BANG BANG SQUEEZE
Is Canada Cool Enough For These Cats?
by Peter Noble, The New Music Magazine, Sept 1979
"Pop music has acquired a dirty reputation over the past ten years. It began with the emergence of psychedelic music, putting less emphasis on singles in favour of album-oriented compositions ... that's where FM rock radio comes into full perspective. Disco and formula pop music flooded the charts in England with the likes of Gary Glitter, Mud, and Sweet. These groups tried to create a certain niche for themselves, but they weren't that convincing, which is where Squeeze comes in," suggests writer/guitarist Glenn Tilbrook.
Originally entitled U.K. Squeeze, this outrageous quintet gained recognition when they recorded Packet of Three, an extended play on their independent label, Deptford Fun City, produced by ex-Velvets mainman John Cale. Over a period of six months the E.P. sold 25,000 copies, thus Squeeze was contracted to A&M records with Cale at the control boards.
Glenn recalls, "After recording our debut album we weren't satisfied with two of the tracks which Cale produced. Inevitably, we took them off and replaced them with two filler tracks, 'Take Me I'm Yours' and 'Bang Bang', which we produced ourselves. Surprisingly enough, those particular songs turned out to be the single releases from the album."
Squeeze experienced the ultimate in success with the release of their second and most recent platter, Cool For Cats. Three singles, 'Goodbye Girl', 'Cool For Cats' and 'Up The Junction', received rave reviews on the charts, while two of them reached the number two position.
"I don't know if you're familiar with the phrase 'Cool For Cats' in Canada, but it was the first rock 'n' roll television show in England during 1959. That's where the album and single title originated ... I just worked it into some personal experiences within the lyrical content," explained lyricist/rhythm guitarist Chris Difford.
"One of the nice things about Squeeze is that we're not particularly snobbish in our approach to live performances," said Glenn. "There've been several British groups who have played smaller venues on their North American visits and really loathe the idea of going down several levels. Playing a club like The Edge in Toronto is enjoyable for me because it's easier to communicate with people within such an intimate atmosphere."
Recently, original bassist Harry Kakoulli left the group to pursue the realm of disco. In his place is newcomer John Bentley, who, as Glenn admits, "is much more rock 'n' roll inclined."
Drummer Gilson Lavis created a colourful history for himself as an extensive session musician. Drumming for such notables as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash, Gilson has the experience and credibility which make him an irreplaceable constituent within Squeeze.
Keyboardist Jools Holland has the reputation of being one of England's highly acclaimed 'boogie woogie' pianists. With glasses, hat, bow tie and cigar between his lips, Jools radiates one of the most charismatic stage presences in rock 'n' roll today. An extended play entitled Boogie Woogie '78 was produced and performed by Jools on the Deptford Fun City label. Among the five tunes, 'Buick '48', 'Mess Around' and 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl' display impressive piano-flavoured rock 'n' roll boogie rhythms.
Says Glenn, "The next album will be more of an extension of Cool For Cats. It'll be much more polished, yet we'll try to maintain the same kind of emotion because, as of late, we have familiarized ourselves with the studio and the facilities that are available.
"The next disc will be self-produced by Squeeze with the assistance of our soundman John Wood. We'll still live up to our slightly mischievous, irresistible schoolboy humour because, let's face it ... that's what Squeeze is all about.