Squeeze, East Side Story 1981, A&M
Someone Else’s Heart
There’s No Tomorrow
Is That Love
Labelled With Love
Someone Else’s Bell
New wavers Squeeze formed in 1974 and were initially part of a small local scene in south east London with king of news years eve Jools Holland being one of the original members, he left in 1980, returning again for a few years in
1985. This album, which was produced by Elvis Costello was their first without him. Paul McCartney had also planned to produce, but scheduling conflicts meant that this did not happen. East Side Story was the fourth Squeeze album, but the first with a lineup of Glenn Tilbrook- vocals and guitar, Chris Difford - rhythm guitar, Paul Carrack - keyboards, John Bentley- bass and Gilson Lavis - drums.
It was a definite step away from the musical style of their previous albums with a lot of blues and rockabilly influences. It was critically well received and reached number 19 in the chart.
In Quintessence sounds like classic ‘50s rock and roll, it feels like it came straight off the Grease movie soundtrack. It’s a total bop though and a great start. Someone Else’s Heart is quire melancholy but has lovely harmonies. Fan favourite Tempted is a very smooth, easy listening style love song, but it’s not my thing at all. Piccadilly is about two people getting ready to go on a date, it has a fun tune with some nice piano. The sleazy Heaven has an interesting ska flavour and I feel like it would grow on me with a few listens. Woman’s World has a nice keyboard start, it’s another sad one about a woman living an unfulfilled life. Is That Love is probably the highlight of the album, it’s a fun
song with a great beat, although by no means a traditional love song since it’s the opposite of romantic. F-Hole has a great psychedelic sounding start and it could stand up next to some late 2000’s indie very easily. Successful single Labelled with Love has a definite country flavour both in sound and lyrical content. Someone Else’s Bell about a couple who both have affairs due to the lack of fulfilment in their relationship has a nice mix of synth and rock stylings. Vanity Fair is slow and sad with orchestra and vocals rather than guitars. Messed Around is a rockabilly track, it’s not that strong an ending, but does have some good piano.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag of an album. There are an equal number of enjoyable and forgettable songs. It’s widely considered to be Squeeze’s best work combing great beats with dark subject matter about suburban life. It’s important as an example of how the ‘80s would give bands a chance to experiment and try out new ways of making music that would give them more longevity, but for me it just doesn’t have quite as many great songs as their early new wave albums. Still, for us it heralds the brave new world of the electronic decade and slick production - the ‘80s are certainly going to be interesting!