Squeeze are an English band that came to prominence in the United Kingdom during the New Wave period of the late 1970s, and continued recording successfully in the 1980s and 1990s. They are known in the UK for their hit songs "Cool for Cats", "Up the Junction", "Tempted", "Labelled With Love", "Black Coffee In Bed", "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)", and "Hourglass". Though not quite as commercially successful in the U.S., "Tempted", "Hourglass" and "853-5937" were all American chart hits for Squeeze, and the band have a dedicated following there and continue to attract new fans. All of Squeeze's hits were written by band members Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford.
The group formed in Deptford, London in 1974, and first broke up in 1982. Squeeze then reformed in 1985, and broke up again in 1999. The band reunited for tours through the United States and United Kingdom in 2007, and this touring version of Squeeze has continued into 2010.
Difford and Tilbrook confirmed during an interview at the V Festival in 2008 that they planned to produce a record of new Squeeze material. However, as of yet, no new Squeeze material has been played live in concert.
Squeeze did release Spot The Difference, an album of newly recorded versions of older material, in August 2010. The album contained classic Squeeze songs painstakingly reproduced in such a fashion that fans are invited to 'spot the difference' from the original versions.
The band's founding members in March 1974 were Chris Difford (guitar, vocals, lyrics), Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar, music), Jools Holland (keyboards), and Paul Gunn (drums). The group played under several names, most frequently "Captain Trundlow's Sky Company" or "Skyco", before selecting the band name "Squeeze" as a facetious tribute to The Velvet Underground's oft-derided 1973 album of the same name.
Squeeze's early career was spent around Deptford in SE London, where they were part of a lively local music scene which included Alternative TV and Dire Straits. The group's early singles and debut EP, 1977's Packet of Three, were released on the Deptford Fun City Label.
Squeeze's first EP and most of its self-titled debut album (1978) were produced by John Cale for A&M Records. Cale had been a member of Velvet Underground from whose album Squeeze took their name. However, the debut album's two hit singles ("Take Me I'm Yours" and "Bang Bang") were produced by the band themselves, as the label found Cale's recordings uncommercial.
In the United States and Canada, the band and album were dubbed U.K. Squeeze due to legal conflicts arising from a contemporary American band called "Tight Squeeze". The "U.K." was dropped for all subsequent releases. In Australia, the same name change was used due to legal conflicts arising from an existing Sydney-based band also called "Squeeze". Albums in Australia were credited to U.K. Squeeze up to and including Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.
The band's second album, Cool for Cats (1979), contained the band's two highest charting UK singles in "Cool For Cats" and "Up The Junction", both of which peaked at #2. John Bentley replaced Harry Kakoulli on bass in 1979 following the release of the LP.
Argybargy (1980), the band's third album, was also a UK hit. It was additionally a mild breakthrough in North America, as the single "Another Nail In My Heart" was a #56 hit in Canada, and second single "Pulling Mussels From The Shell" received airplay on U.S. rock radio stations.
Keyboardist Jools Holland left the band for a solo career in 1980. Keyboard duties were taken over by highly-rated singer-keyboardist Paul Carrack, a former member of British soul-pop band Ace, who scored a major international hit with the song "How Long." Carrack had also been a member of Roxy Music.
In 1981 the band cut perhaps their best-known album, East Side Story. It was produced by Elvis Costello and Roger Bechirian, and featured Carrack's lead vocals on the radio hit "Tempted". Carrack himself left after the release of East Side Story, and was replaced by Don Snow. This line-up recorded the Sweets From A Stranger LP in 1982. Negative reviews, the stresses of touring, and conflict between band members led Difford and Tilbrook to break up the band later that year, after releasing a final single, "Annie Get Your Gun".
Difford and Tilbrook continued to work together, and released one self-titled album as the duo Difford & Tilbrook in 1984. Although it is not officially a Squeeze album, to many fans Difford & Tilbrook is considered a "lost" Squeeze LP because Difford and Tilbrook were themselves the only constant members of Squeeze. Several Difford & Tilbrook tracks have been featured on officially-sanctioned Squeeze compilations.
The duo also contributed to a musical written and staged in Deptford during this period, entitled Labelled with Love and based in large part on the music of Squeeze.
Squeeze re-formed to play a one night charity gig in 1985, with all five members from the 1980 Argybargy period—Difford, Tilbrook, Holland, Lavis, and Bentley. The performance was such a success that the band unanimously agreed to resume recording and touring as Squeeze. Searching for a different sound, the band replaced Bentley with bassist Keith Wilkinson from the Difford & Tilbrook sessions. This line-up released the 1985 LP Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.
The new LP featured complex double-tracked keyboard parts which could not be duplicated by a single keyboard player in a live setting, so Jools' brother Chris Holland played a few gigs as a second keyboardist in 1985. However, Chris Holland was quickly replaced by an official new member Andy Metcalfe of the Soft Boys and The Egyptians. A bassist in those groups, Metcalfe would play keyboards with Squeeze. His tenure as the band's sixth member would last until 1988.
In 1987, the sextet recorded the album Babylon And On. A successful release on both sides of the Atlantic, this album contained the band's only US top 40 hits in "Hourglass" and "853-5937"
Metcalfe left the band in 1988, leaving the Difford/Tilbrook/Holland/Wilkinson/Lavis line-up to record 1989's Frank. The LP was a commercial disappointment that spun off no charting singles in the UK, and the band was dropped from their long-time A&M label.
Adding a new second keyboard player in the person of Matt Irving, the band issued the live album A Round And A Bout on I.R.S. Records in March 1990. Jools Holland left Squeeze again in early 1990, and was not immediately replaced. In his stead, the band used session musicians such as Irving (who was no longer an official band member), Snow, Steve Nieve, Bruce Hornsby and Carol Isaacs for the 1991 release Play, which came out on the Reprise label. This release again spawned no UK hits, although in the US the singles "Satisfied" and "Crying In Your Sleep" received significant airplay on modern rock stations, and in Canada "Satisfied" was a top 50 hit. However, Reprise dropped the band after this one album. Then drummer Gilson Lavis was let go in 1992, and replaced by Nieve's fellow Attractions band mate Pete Thomas. Paul Carrack also returned to the band in 1993, although by this point Squeeze was not so much a band as it was a trade name for Difford and Tilbrook plus sidemen.
Squeeze re-signed to A&M in time for 1993's Some Fantastic Place. After a period of commercial decline in the UK, lead single "Third Rail" hit #39, becoming Squeeze's first UK Top 40 hit in six years.
Squeeze's lineup during the mid-1990s changed constantly. Though not an official Squeeze member, Aimee Mann was featured on vocals and guitar at many Squeeze shows during 1994. Thomas also exited the band that year, and Carrack doubled on snare and keyboards for a few gigs before session drummer Andy Newmark was brought in. Then – still in 1994 – Carrack left, which allowed keyboardist Andy Metcalfe to return to the band for a short spell, playing on some live dates. Drummer Kevin Wilkinson (no relation to bassist Keith), formerly of The Waterboys, was also added around this time, replacing Newmark. He lasted through the 1995 album Ridiculous, which was recorded by the quartet of Difford, Tilbrook, Wilkinson and Wilkinson. The album spun off three minor hits in the UK: "This Summer", "Electric Trains" and "Heaven Knows". ("Heaven Knows" was used as the closing song in the 1995 film Hackers starring Angelina Jolie.) As well, a minimally remixed version of "This Summer" became a #32 UK hit in 1996, a year after the original version peaked at #36. Despite this, A&M once again dropped Squeeze from their roster in late 1996.
Following the release of Ridiculous, Don Snow (now known as Jonn Savannah) returned to Squeeze yet again as their touring keyboard player, but by 1997, the Squeeze line-up had officially dwindled down to just Difford and Tilbrook. That year the duo, billed as Squeeze, released the non-album single "Down In The Valley" as a fundraising single for Charlton Athletic F.C. Tilbrook formed the Quixotic label for this and future Squeeze-related releases, as well as releases by other artists.
For the 1998 album Domino, the band was again a quintet consisting of Difford, Tilbrook, bassist Hilaire Penda, ex-Del Amitri drummer Ashley Soan, and yet another returning keyboardist in the person of Chris Holland. Nick Harper often performed with this version of Squeeze, providing additional guitar and vocals. In January 1999, just days before a planned tour, Chris Difford suddenly announced that he was taking a 'hiatus' from Squeeze. The last venue for Squeeze with Chris was The Charlotte, Leicester, England. The band subsequently continued as a quartet led by Tilbrook, with Jim Kimberley replacing Soan on some tour dates, and Chris Holland exiting in the autumn to be replaced by Tilbrook's other frequent writing partner Chris Braide.