Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Squeeze - Sweets From A Stranger (1982)

Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by a CD.  The CD I listened to was released in 1995 so doesn't contain any of the bonus tracks of the 1997 or 2008 reissues.

Even though I'd eventually own them all, this was the first Squeeze album I ever purchased. It got a lot of playing time back in 1982 and on into '83.  This release didn't earn the same amount of critical respect as its predecessor, East Side Story.  That didn't matter to me, as I considered it an underrated collection of fantastic New Wave/power pop songs.  At age 16, I didn't fully understand all the lyrical metaphors, but now I think I understand them better and smile as I remember how confused I was by lyrics such as "She likes love/by luck or labour/she likes love/but not for favour" which I assumed was about a girl simply playing hard to get, not realizing it was a song about prostitution (from I Can't Hold On).  Critics couldn't agree about this release, which received decent reviews from Rolling Stone and Robert Christgau, but only 2½ out of 5 stars from Stephen Thomas Erlewine.  I listened to this so much when it was released, it doesn't get as much playing time as it should these days.  Do you have albums like that?

After this release, the group split, tried to put on a musical (Labelled With Love), released a sub-par duo album, and then came back to life in 1985 with Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #32

Tracks:  I love them all with the exception of the featured single, Black Coffee In Bed, an obvious attempt to capitalize on the minor success of their previous single, Tempted. To me, Black Coffee In Bed is a poor imitation, containing none of the soulfulness of Tempted, while rambling on for far too long.  Just when you think the song is ending, it goes back for a second attempt at the bridge about 4 minutes in. (Also, the video was horrible and, in 1982, that counted for something).  The other 11 tracks are worth checking out, but my bias should be obvious to you by now.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD:  Even though this was released in the spring of '82, my memories of the album are tied to fall of that year.  That fall must have been unusually cold and wet, because I have images in mind of driving to and from school in that sort of weather, listening to a tape of this album in the Markmobile and forcing my friends to listen to it.  One time after listening to this album, I actually thought about starting a cover band that would play mostly Squeeze tunes.  I laugh now imagining how well a New Wave cover band would have been received in the early '80s amid the rice fields and cattle ranches of the South Texas Plains.

My LP copy had a perforated tear-off flap that had critic's praises for the band printed on it, but you could remove to see the full album cover (which wasn't that great to begin with).

I've never seen the band live. They're still touring. I need to take care of that.

Previously revisited for the blog:
The Complete BBC Sessions (2008)
Domino (1998)
Ridiculous (1995)
Some Fantastic Place (1993)
Babylon and On (1987)
Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985)
Difford & Tilbrook (1984)
East Side Story (1981)
Argybargy (1980) - 1987 reissue and 2008 Deluxe Edition
Cool For Cats (1979)
U.K. Squeeze (1978)

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