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Difford and Tilbrook - Difford and Tilbrook

  by Julie Cruickshank

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

Difford and Tilbrook - Difford and Tilbrook
Label: Select Label
Format: N/A


Julie Cruickshank finds that the only album released by ex-Squeeze songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, this self-titled 1984 album stands as a bridge between the end of the band and the solo careers of the two members.

Post-punk South London band Squeeze found chart success in the late 1970s and early 1980s with a string of pop hits, their sound a diverse mixture of pop, punk, soul and country. Songs such as the storming ‘Take Me I’m Yours’, the quirky ‘Cool For Cats’ and others such as ‘Up the Junction’ and ‘Labelled With Love’ established guitarists and singers Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford as respected songwriters. Chris Difford penned clever, stark lyrics, playing with words that were often humorous, sometimes melancholy, but always unforgettable. Glenn Tilbrook added music to those words, experimenting with many styles according to his mood; sometimes almost a punky sound, or pure pop, or a ballad. Squeeze split in 1982. In 1984 Difford and Tilbrook released a self-titled album of a collection of songs perhaps originally intended for a later incarnation of Squeeze. It is very much a product of its time; the early 1980s saw experimentation with new computer-generated sounds and this is evident throughout the album. ‘Difford & Tilbrook’ opens with ‘Action Speaks Faster’, bass-heavy and almost funky, quite a departure from the Squeeze of old. ‘Love’s Crashing Waves’ released as a single, has a feel of the Philadelphia Sound of the late 1960s - early 1970s, and Difford’s dextrous lyrics are a delight: “Malicious gossip will never profit/When hearsay is its foundation/There are subscribers whose appetizers/Are pieces of conversation”. ‘On My Mind Tonight’ has a moody, reflective, late-night feel: “The small hand’s on the five/I’ve got you on my mind tonight”. ‘Hope Fell Down’, the second single from the album, employs a gloriously sweeping vocal chorus; here, too, Difford’s low deadpan register is in evidence as a counterpoint to Tilbrook’s higher, sweeter voice. ‘Wagon Train’ sounds like an early Squeeze song, while ‘Tears For Attention’ has a pulsing, anticipatory feel. Final track ‘The Apple Tree’ brings the album to an eerie close, an imagining of the after-effects of a nuclear holocaust: “And the wind will spread the fire/And the rain will ever fall/If no-one reads the writing/ That’s been written on the wall”. Produced by Tony Visconti and remixed by E.T. Thorngren, Difford and Tilbrook are joined by Andy Duncan on drums and percussion, Keith Wilkinson on bass, Guy Fletcher on keyboards and Debbie Bishop on backing vocals. Larry Tollfree also supplies further percussion. A slice of Squeeze humour also appears in the credits: “Atlas - Barnet arrangements”, Barnet being London slang for hair. ‘Difford & Tilbrook’ has stood the test of time as a showcase for Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook’s songwriting abilities, and will direct a new generation of listeners towards the wonderful songs of Squeeze.

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Difford and Tilbrook - Difford and Tilbrook

Difford and Tilbrook - Difford and Tilbrook

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