SQUEEZE SONGWRITERS STILL HAVE JUICE
by Jennie Punter, Toronto Star, Oct 28 1993
At the height of Squeeze's popularity in the early '80s, the band's songwriting team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook was hailed as the new Leiber and Stoller or Lennon and McCartney.
They also broke up the band.
But the creative dynamic of Difford (lyrics) and Tilbrook (music), who started writing songs together in the early '70s, remained intact. The pair recorded an album in 1984 under their own names and collaborated on a stage show.
When push came to shove, Squeeze ended up reforming in 1985, with four of the original members - Difford, Tilbrook, keyboardist Jools Holland and drummer Gilson Lavis - and again started churning out albums of witty, melodic pop.
The band's latest release, Some Fantastic Place, marks another lineup change that welcomes back an old associate, Paul Carrack, who was with Squeeze for less than a year, sand the lead vocal on the band's hit single 'Tempted' and played keyboards on its 1981 East Side Story album.
His inimitable vocal style also graces 'Loving You Tonight,' the first single from the new album.
"He just happened to be in town, in London, when we were doing an acoustic show," explains Difford.
"We thought it was a bit of a long shot, but we asked him to open for us and he did.
"The next thing we knew, we were rehearsing for the album, and I put the motion forward that we should use Paul. So we put it to the test, and it's worked out marvellously."
While Squeeze has at times been a revolving door, the version that plays on Some Fantastic Place is the same that will deliver new material alongside Squeeze chestnuts at RPM on Tuesday night.
Rounding out the lineup will be bassist Keith Wilkinson, who joined in 1985, and brand new drummer Pete Thomas, formerly of Elvis Costello's Attractions.
Recorded early this year, Some Fantastic Place marks a slight change in methods for Difford and Tilbrook, who usually work separately.
"We went for the simple approach," says Difford.
"Glenn has built a recording studio near home in London, and we all went there every day, so we rehearsed in the same space we recorded.
"The writing took about two months. And for two or three of the songs we sat in the same room with each other. Glenn created an environment, and to leave our homes and go and work together was something new.
"It was good to sit in the same room and be inventive. It makes things simpler; you don't have to wait for the results. It's quite inspirational."
Difford also was inspired by a recent collaboration with one of his early songwriting heroes, Elton John.
"We've known each other for over a year," Difford says. "And we were talking to each other over the phone, he was talking about one particular subject. I had coincidentally written lyrics about that subject.
"I faxed it to him in a letter. I said, 'It's just something I'd like you to see.'
"And the next thing I knew I was being invited over to a studio where he was writing the song. He wrote the song there and then, it took an hour and a half."
The experience, Difford says, was extremely moving as well as a little unsettling,
"I suppose I watched him in the way - I know it's a strange analogy - but if you can imagine looking in on mom and dad in the bedroom, if you know what I mean."
Over the years, Difford has written occasionally with other people, including a song for Elvis Costello's 1982 Imperial Bedroom album.
"Lyrics are a strange commodity that a lot of people are interested in," he says. But will he continue to produce that "commodity" for Squeeze after this album?
"To be honest I can't tell," he answers. "We're in the middle of this one.
"It's like climbing mountains. You can only climb the mountain to find out if there's another one on the other side. And we're only half the way up."