[Review] Squeeze: Frank (1989)

Not as commercially successful as Babylon and On, but arguably the better album.

Kronomyth 10.0: From argybargy to loggerheads.

Frank is furter along the curve than Babylon and On, nearly aligning with the arc one might have extrapolated from Sweets from a Stranger some seven years on, which is a long-winded way of saying this is what I expected a Squeeze album from 1989 might sound like before I could have imagined that frutti post-sweets hiccup. It’s a subtle difference from their last album: same line-up, same producers, but it doesn’t try so hard to charm you with songs like “853-5937” and “Hourglass.” In fact, it aligns with the classic East Side Story in more than a few ways, from the swingin’ throwbacks (“Dr. Jazz,” “Is It Too Late”) and sympathetic portraits of real-world relationships (“She Doesn’t Have To Shave,” “Can of Worms”) to an opener (“If It’s Love”) that clearly invites comparison to the classic “Is That Love.”

I see this album as a slight inching forward from Babylon that arguably culminated with Play. The synthesizers are replaced with accordion, the quick wit rolls a bit more naturally, Difford gets another neat cameo (“Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken”) and this time so does Jools (“Dr. Jazz”). A few tracks on here belong with my favorites from Squeeze, including “Melody Motel,” a country-styled tune that ranks alongside “Labelled With Love.” If it’s not a complete return to form, at least it’s nice not to have to explain away the synthesizers and awkwardly in-the-way horns. Of course it’s not the breathtaking accomplishment of East Side Story, and nothing could be again, but Squeeze fans had been holding their breath for a while waiting for an album like Frank and could now reasonably exhale without worrying where their next gulpful of goodness would come from.

Original elpee version

A1. Frank (public domain) (0:15)
A2. If It’s Love (4:02)
A3. Peyton Place (4:08)
A4. Rose I Said (3:36)
A5. Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken (4:37)
A6. (This Could Be) The Last Time (3:49)
A7. She Doesn’t Have to Shave (3:27)
B1. Love Circles (5:34)
B2. Melody Motel (3:51)
B3. Can of Worms (4:47)
B4. Dr. Jazz (Julian Holland) (4:04)
B5. Is It Too Late (3:12)

All songs written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook unless noted. All songs arranged by Squeeze.

Japanese CD reissue bonus track
13. Frank’s Bag

CD reissue bonus tracks
13. Red Light
14. Frank’s Bag
15. Good Times Bring Me Down
16. Any Other Day
17. Who’s That
18. If I’m Dead
19. She Doesn’t Have to Shave (acoustic version)
20. Melody Motel (acoustic version)

The Players

Chris Difford (guitar and vocals), Julian Holland (piano, organ and vocals), Gilson Lavis (drums), Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar and keyboards), Keith Wilkinson (basses and vocals) with Karen Beany (backing vocals on A2), Monique Dyan (backing vocals on A2), Matt Irving (accordion on A3/B2), Barrie St. John (backing vocals on A2). Produced by Eric “E.T.” Thorngren and Glenn Tilbrook; engineered and mixed by Eric “E.T.” Thorngren.

The Pictures

Design by Stylorouge. Photography by Trevor Rogers.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and compact disc on August 24, 1989 in the UK (A&M, AMA/AMC 5278), the US and Canada (SP/CS/CD 5268), Germany (A&M, 395278) and Japan (A&M, PCCY-10016) with lyrics innersleeve; reached #58 on the UK charts and #113 on the US charts.

  1. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2007 in Japan (Strange Days, POCE-1136) with one bonus track.
  2. Re-released on expanded compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Universal, 9832840) with 8 bonus tracks.

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