Squeeze Album Was A Highlight From The Desert That Was Rock Music Exactly Thirty Years Ago
Squeeze's Frank Album Was Released on August 24,1989
New Wave Band Revived Its Musical Magic After Its Mid Decade Breakup
They formed over a decade before, saw their fame peak in the early heyday of MTV, and they broke up in the mid Eighties. The group led by the pair of songwriters who had once been dubbed the new Lennon-McCartney, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, had been virtually forgotten as the Nineties approached.
Difford and Tilbrook reunited Squeeze for Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti, an album that absolutely flopped. A follow up called Babylon and On charted several singles, but it caused an even deeper crevice that no one expected Squeeze to survive.
As the recognized musical force behind the group, Tilbrook for the first time took production credit for Babylon and On. This tactic, however it may have been justified, had certainly marked Squeeze's final demise.
Or so everyone thought. Then, just as the decade was closing, the band turned out its most solid record since the end of the Seventies. That album, simply titled Frank, turns thirty this year.
Opening track "If It's Love" as well as album closer "Is It Too Late" serve as sweet reminders of the quintet's knack for creating catchy pop songs, while in between lies laudable evidence of welcome maturity. This growth is most evident in Difford's lyrics, which take us to themes heretofore unaddressed in rock tunes.
There is the murder of a prostitute in a place called the Melody Motel, and in "Can of Worms" there is the awkward situation endured by every man who gets involved with a woman housing the small children of her ex. It gets especially uncomfortable when he takes the kids to the playground, where they happen to encounter their father.
Perhaps the most daring topic on Frank occurs on the track "She Doesn't Have To Shave", sung by a man who is trying to sympathize with his girlfriend during her period. In Jim Drury's book Squeeze Song By Song, Difford admitted that the tune worked like a charm when female fans wanted to show their appreciation for his piece on their once a month plight.
Difford does,thankfully, return to issues that have been prevalent in songs from as far back as their self-titled debut, topics such as inebriation, infidelity, and intercourse grown stale. While te latter does not reach the quality of earlier hits "It Gets So Hard" or "Take Me I'm Yours", fans still have to get a guilty chuckle out of "Love Circles."
Adding to its strength is the fact that Difford himself does the lead vocals, just as he did in the aforementioned tracks from the debut and Cool For Cats respectively. His deep baritone also leads "Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken" on track five, making Frank the first album since Argybargy that Difford is thrust into the lead role on multiple songs.
The late Eighties have been considered a rock waste land compared to the Sixties and Seventies, most of music attention getting hijacked by rap and new country. As Squeeze's Frank album proves, however, music fans can still find good quality albums from thirty years ago.