[Review] U.K. Squeeze (1978)

The debut album on which John Cale turns them into a newt wave band. (Don’t worry, they got better.)

Kronomyth 1.0: Pulling muscles from a shell.

A very bumpy ride, or so I always thought, sticking my head out the window to howl a curse at John Cale in the rush of wind. But it’s 3:30 in the morning (again), and I’m amenable to anything, even noisy, precocious and sometimes preposterous punk/pop that might have otherwise fallen from the long-chapped lips of any number of late ‘70s also-rans (Wreckless Eric, The Payola$).

The band’s first proper album comes with a caveat: you’ll need to do some digging to find the little melodic treasures that spilled so easily from Argybargy and its ilk. Obstacles include egregious instances of noisemongering, a few tracks of plain filler and tantalizing bits of melody that serve as the album’s unreachable itch. It’s clear even here that melody is not their enemy, but every English band that was slightly edgy (XTC, The Cure) was initially labelled a punk band (fortunately, the labels fell off after an album or two). Even The Police fell victim to it (while wisely avoiding the inevitable fallout).

U.K. Squeeze (so named because there was another band named Squeeze that no one remembers anymore) has its moments, but latter-day fans may be shocked by songs like Sex Master and Bang Bang. More likely to please this contingent are Out of Control and First Thing Wrong, bits of which evince the prince charmings beneath an otherwise froggy exterior. Also included here is the band’s first single, Take Me I’m Yours, which features a much heavier synth-sound than the surrounding material. While their first album isn’t one I return to as often as, say, Three Imaginary Boys or White Music, my telling you a Squeeze album isn’t tuneful is like telling you that Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky isn’t funny; you’re just going to have to find out for yourself.

Original LP Version

A1. Sex Master (2:20)
A2. Bang Bang (2:03)
A3. Strong In Reason (4:12)
A4. Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil (Chris Difford/Glenn Tilbrook/Gilson Lavis/Harry Kakoulli/Julian Holland) (3:49)
A5. Out of Control (4:43)
A6. Take Me I’m Yours (3:48)
B1. The Call (5:18)
B2. Model (3:02)
B3. Remember What (2:51)
B4. First Thing Wrong (3:51)
B5. Hesitation (Rool Brittania) (3:49)
B6. Get Smart (2:06)

All songs written by Chris Difford/Glenn Tilbrook unless noted.

The Players

Chris Difford (rhythm guitar, vocals), Jools Holland (keyboards), Harry Kakoulli (bass), Gilson Lavis (drums), Glenn Tilbrook (lead guitar, vocals). Produced by John Cale except tracks A2/B1 produced by U.K. Squeeze; engineered by Greg Jackman, John Wood.

The Pictures

Art direction by Michael Ross. Design by Nick Marshall. Photography by George Greenwood.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in March 1978 in the UK (A&M, AMLH 68465) and in May 1978* on red vinyl elpee in the US (A&M, SP/CS 4687). (*First appeared in 5/20/78 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1982 in the US (A&M, SP-3185).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in the US (A&M, CD-3185).
  3. Re-released on remastered cassette in 1995 in the US (A&M, 3185 4).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc on March 18, 2015 in Japan (A&M, UICY 77094).

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