Sunday, March 9, 2014

Squeeze - Cool for Cats

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Sunday.

Today (March 9th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Cool for Cats, the second studio album from Squeeze. This 1979 release went to number 45 on the UK charts and achieved Gold sales status in that country.

The line-up of the band featured Glenn Tilbrook (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Chris Difford (guitar and vocals), Jools Holland (keyboards), Harri Kakoulli (bass) and Gilson Lavis (drums).

Side one starts with the swirling synths of “Slap & Tickle”, the trials and tribulations of the love life of a guy named Michael. The title refers to both the British slang for sexual activity and a funky style of bass guitar playing, the later of which is employed by Kakoulli on the track. As the fourth single, it got to number 24 on the UK charts.

“Revue” features an intense rhythm that pounds at the listener.

With a rollicking rock guitar riff, “Touching Me, Touching You” is a song about self-gratification.

“It’s Not Cricket” features a quirky synth line and an uneven rhythm that keeps the listener on the edge. The song tells of the seedy sides of life with strip clubs and prostitution.

“It’s So Dirty” got my toes tapping right out of the gate. It barrels in and does not stop for three minutes.

“The Knack” is not about the US band of that name which had a big debut in 1979. It is actually about a guy who does not have what it takes to run with the big boys. I particularly like the percussion on this one.

Side two begins with be-bopping beat of “Hop Skip and Jump”.

The third single “Up the Junction” climbed to number 3 in Ireland and number 2 in the UK. The song gets its title from a 1963 novel by Nell Dunn, and there are a number of references in the lyrics to things and places from the book. The framework of the song is interesting in that it does not have a chorus per se; everything is told via a narrative verse.

“Hard to Find” is up next. This is the first of the deep cuts that did not stir much a response with me. It could be that it is a fairly straight-forward rock track or just the attitude of the lyrics. It does not feel like a Squeeze song to me for some reason.

“Slightly Drunk” is a fond look back at the pre-digital days, when an intoxicated person hopelessly in love had to take pen to paper rather than rip off a quick barrage of texts. The beautiful thing about that was you had a chance to stop yourself from sending it until you were sober, unless of course you happened to have some postage handy to stamp it.

“Goodbye Girl”, the first single, went to number 63 in the UK. The rhythm to the album version of the song is different, giving it a unique sound when stacked up against the others on the record.

The album closes with the title track “Cool for Cats”. As the second single, it reached number 11 in New Zealand, number 8 in Ireland and the Netherlands, number 5 in Australia and number 2 in the UK. The song gets its title from one of the first British TV series to feature rock ‘n roll acts; it ran from 1956 to 1961. This one is a fun for me to sing when my son and I play Rock Band 2; I like taking on the Cockney accent when doing it. By the time the instrumental breaks come, I am ready for a respite from the rapid-fire lyrics.

I was very familiar to the four singles from Cool for Cats thanks to an early 80's Squeeze compilation album Singles - 45's and Under that my older brother owned. However, this review was my first run through of the full album. I found that I connected to quite a number of the deep tracks instantly; those will quickly be going into my digital music library to fill in more of the record.

For 1982’s Sweets From a Stranger, click here.

1 comment:

Mark said...

That's good stuff right there. I like most of the tracks, save The Knack and Slightly Drunk. I'd be hard to pick a favorite; all four singles are first rate.

When I saw Glenn Tilbrook last fall, he performed Goodbye Girl and Up The Junction. They sound as good today as they did when I first heard them.

I'm afraid you've started a Squeeze listening marathon here at the house this evening.