My second favorite 1981 album is East Side Story, the fourth (and best) album by the UK band Squeeze. Produced almost entirely by Elvis Costello, this ia a New Wave classic that weaves in elements of country, rockabilly and psychedelia. Best known for the single ‘Tempted,’ East Side Story is stellar from start to finish.
Through some cosmic coincidence, that debut episode aired exactly 28 years ago today, on Halloween of 1989. I’d love to say I planned it this way, but alas, it was fate.
David Bowie made his Round One appearance and, at least by my vote, bested his first Montauk Madness opponent. Now it’s time for another musical legend who died in 2016 to try his luck, as Prince faces off against the British New Wave band Squeeze.
This is a more difficult decision than it might seem. While I acknowledge Prince’s unique genius and his contribution to rock and R&B music, I don’t own many of his albums. But neither do I own many Squeeze albums.
So many of the albums I write about in these year-by-year series elicit in me the same response: I really need to listen to this one. Such is the case yet again with today’s selection, Squeeze’s third album, Argybargy.
Considering how much I love Squeeze’s 1981 classic East Side Story, along with the greatest hits collection I wore out in college, it’s a mystery why I haven’t listened to any of the dozen or so other albums they’ve released. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford are one of the great pop songwriting duos, a pair dubbed the next Lennon and McCartney by some of their English countrymen.
Surprisingly, this is only my third Squeeze song since I started the Song of the Day series more than six years ago. I would have expected better representation from a band for which I hold a great deal of affection.
The reason, I’m sure, is that I have only one Squeeze album in my iTunes library — 1981’s excellent East Side Story. I have enjoyed other Squeeze albums over the years, including the underrated Play and a greatest hits collection that my principles prevented me from purchasing, but East Side Story has always provided my Squeeze fix.
East Side Story – Squeeze (1981)
By now you know that I can’t resist a list. So after spending a month counting down my favorite 90s albums, I’m turning my attention to the preceding decade.
First, a disclaimer: My record collection narrows as I go back in time. The 80s spanned my life from age 8 to 18, not exactly prime territory as far as disposable income goes. So I don’t have the breadth of material to choose from that I do for the 90s and beyond. Many of my 80s albums were bought much later, as I sought to fill in the catalogs of artists I discovered mid-career.
I’ve owned three of their albums (East Side Story, Play and a greatest hits collection). I have a strong bias against hits albums, so I sold that one back (even though I liked all the songs). But I’ve never rushed out to pick up their other albums.