Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Deptford City Five

One of the things that I love about the internet is that there is so much (useless?) information out there just waiting for someone like me to stumble upon it while researching my posts. This was how I came across the great Squeeze site Packet Of Three and was more than pleased to discover that someone has gone to the effort of listing all of the bands concerts, this helped me to find the date of when I saw the band (through the years I have lost all my old ticket stubs) as being either 16 or 17 March 1978 at London's Lyceum Ballroom. At the time I was just 17 and spending more and more of my time following up on what I had read about in NME and listened to with John Peel or Nicky Horne. When I saw the three band bill was going to be zig zagging its way across the British Isles for two months at the beginning of '78, I was as they say up for it. The headliners were Eddie And The Hot Rods who were at this point at the height of their popularity, 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' had been a massive hit the previous summer and the tour was to promote their second album 'Life On The Line'. Second place on the line up went to Radio Stars who were also popular at the time due to their explosive live shows and their recent UK hit 'Dirty Pictures'. The opening slot was occupied by the relatively unknown Squeeze. I already knew them as I was the proud owner of their vinyl debut the 'Packet of Three EP' that had been released on Deptford Fun City Records in July '77, the band had since signed to A&M and by the time the tour was to begin their first single for a major 'Take Me I'm Yours' was in the shops complete with it's picture sleeve boasting Arnold Schwarzenegger! The month of March saw the release of their self titled debut album, produced by a drug crazed John Cale who truth be told did not do justice to their compositions. I would be lying if I were to give you a detailed account of the gig, it was after all nearly 30 years ago, what I can remember is Andy Ellison, Radio Stars vocalist spending half of his bands set climbing up and down the P.A. stacks, rather like Iggy Pop and also that I was blown away by Squeeze, I'm sure that on that tour I was not the only friend that they made. The south London quintet were built around the songwriting partnership of Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford, who for me are rather like a punk generation Lennon and McCartney but with their roots and influences firmly London based, maybe this local preferences was what stopped them from becoming really big as if we are to be honest they did deserve greater success.
Despite continuing well into the '90's it was obvious that the relationship between the two figureheads was at straining point and they finally called it a day, whether they can put behind them their differences remains to be seen. Both men have embarked on solo careers and quite justifiably their live sets are liberally sprinkled with old Squeeze favorites. Chris Difford's latest album 'South Eastside Story' is a live run through of the bands back catalog in acoustic mode recorded on home turf at the Albany Deptford, a venue that has been staging gigs for as long as I can remember. The renditions are pleasant though add little to the originals except in the case of his reworking of 'Take Me I'm Yours' which successfully manages to loose the originals wonderful teutonic stomp as he turns it into a delicate ballad complete with flute. The Squeeze versions of the songs can be found an the original albums or on one of the many compilations that grace your local record store.

1. Squeeze 'Take Me I'm Yours' originally released on 'Squeeze'
2. Chris Difford 'Take Me I'm Yours'
3. Squeeze 'Up The Junction' originally released on 'Eastside Story'
4. Chris Difford 'Up The Junction'

Thanks for reminding how great Squeeze were - and what an utterly brilliant, and heartbreaking, song Up the Junction is.
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