1974 in London, England
Key '80s Band Members:
- Glenn Tilbrook (born Glenn Martin Tilbrook on August 31, 1957 in Woolwich, London, England) - Lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, primary songwriter
- Chris Difford (born Christopher Henry Difford on November 4, 1954 in Greenwich, London, England) - Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, harmony vocals, lead vocals, primary songwriter
- Jools Holland (born Julian Miles Holland on January 24, 1958 in Blackheath, London, England) - Keyboards, backing vocals (1974-1981, 1985-1990)
- Gilson Lavis (born David Leslie Gilson Lavis on June 27, 1951 in Bedford, England) - Drums (1976-1992)
- John Bentley (born April 16, 1951 in Deptford, South East London, England) - Bass guitar, backing vocals (1980-1982)
- Keith Wilkinson - Bass guitar, backing vocals (1985-1997)
- Paul Carrack (born Paul Melvyn Carrack on April 22, 1951 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England) - Keyboards, lead vocals, backing vocals (1981)
Defined by the songwriting partnership of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the U.K.'s Squeeze combined Beatles-inspired melody and complexity to create a fresh take on new wave and early alternative rock. Though primarily guitar-based, the band employed keyboards and synthesizers to great effect in communicating highly literate, quirky pop songs. More successful in its homeland than in the U.S., the band nevertheless built a deserved cult following that has remained stable and thriving through the decades. Here's a look at the always fascinating career of Squeeze.
Squeeze came together prior to the punk rock explosion in England, inspired instead by proto-punk influences including The Velvet Underground, from whose 1973 album the group ultimately took its name. The original quartet played on the pre-punk London scene for a few years, eventually hooking up with former Velvet John Cale to produce a debut album in 1978 that drew very little sonically from the punk movement. The self-titled LP was credited to U.K. Squeeze in North America and Australia to avoid conflicts with similarly named bands. Even so, "Take Me I'm Yours" became an instant hit.
Early New Wave Success:
Squeeze's follow-up release, 1979's Cool for Cats, continued to employ synthesizer and keyboard textures along with a straightforward guitar pop approach. The title track and the excellent single "Up the Junction," respectively, explored both soundscapes, helping to set the eclectic stage for the development of new wave. The band then greeted the new decade with another solid record, 1980's Argybargy. Holland would leave the band following the record's release, but not before "Another Nail in My Heart" and "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" made inroads in North America.
More '80s Classics - Then Hiatus:
The loss of Holland was significant, but Squeeze pressed on without missing a beat by hiring journeyman singer-songwriter Paul Carrack on keyboards for 1981's well-received East Side Story. The Elvis Costello-produced record featured the band at its best, including the early MTV favorite "Tempted" with Carrack on the majority of lead vocals. Other standout tracks like "Is That Love?" further distinguished the album, but the quick departure of Carrack and other internal tensions led to a temporary break-up following 1982's generally disappointing Sweets from a Stranger. "Black Coffee in Bed" stands as a highly worthy exception.
Squeeze Returns Post-New Wave:
Difford and Tilbrook continued their songwriting partnership during the band's inactive years, releasing one self-titled album as a duo in 1984. The pair officially reconvened the group for 1985's Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, with key early members Holland and Lavis back in the fold. Bentley was replaced with Wilkinson, but the new record suffered perhaps from the time lost during the hiatus. As a result, the hits dried up in the U.K. and certainly in the U.S., even though the music remained relatively strong. Squeeze bounced back a bit with 1987's Babylon and On but ended the decade with a commercial whimper with 1989's Frank.
Shifting Lineup to Current Reunion:
Squeeze continued to release albums throughout the '90s, but for close to a decade the group's membership changed constantly and effectively reduced the band to the duo of Difford and Tilbrook. Some quality music appeared during this period, but by the new millennium the pair elected to go solo and explore music projects separately. The band unsuccessfully flirted with reformation in 2004 but has been relatively stable touring under the name Squeeze since 2007, still anchored firmly by Difford and Tilbrook. In fact, an album of new material is expected for 2013.