TITLE: East Side Story
YEAR RELEASED: 1981
CHART ACTION: #44 US, #19 UK
SINGLES: Is That Love (#35 UK), Tempted (#49 US, #8 Mainstream Rock, #41 UK), Labelled With Love (#4 UK), Messed Around
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: In Quintessence
LINEUP: Glenn Tillbrook, Chris Difford, John Bentley, Paul Carrack, Gilson Lavis
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Squeeze recruits Paul Carrack to replace Jools Holland and comes out with a fantastic chameleon of an album, full of witticisms, hooks, and changing motifs.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Going into 1981, Squeeze was on a roll in crafting new-wavish pop tunes, charting in the UK and getting a cult following in the US. Though keyboardist and funnyman Jools Holland left to go solo, the band recruited ormer Ace leader Paul Carrack and didn’t miss a beat.
For this album, Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook came up with a group of songs that all had different motifs and structures, with most of lyrics focusing on love, cheating, drinking, and other combinations thereof. It shouldn’t have worked, really, with all of the disparate styles on one record. But it does work – it’s brilliant. The production (by Elvis Costello with engineer Roger Bechirian) is probably the clearest and brightest Squeeze had ever sounded.
Only a couple of tracks have the classic Squeeze sound. Some are more rooted in R&B (“Tempted” of course), and then there’s songs that are country, art and chamber pop, vocal pop, rockabilly, and whatever you call “Heaven” (a drinking song with bouzoukis?). Difford is on top of his game with his lyrics, and Tillbrook somehow weaves them all into melodies and songs that aren’t just run of the mill pop or new wave. It’s fabulous.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yes, you saw that right. “Tempted” didn’t hit the Top 40, and in the UK was the lowest charting released single. (“Messed Around” was a US single only – and that was an odd choice, really).
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple with B-sides and outtakes.
GRADE: A+ – Argybargy and East Side Story are a brilliant one-two of early 80s UK music.