Squeeze's 10 greatest songs, ranked

27 June 2024, 13:13

Squeeze. Picture: Getty Images

By Mayer Nissim

Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford can't stop writing hits.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Squeeze are enjoying their third run of success at the moment, with Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford the ever-presents behind their endlessly catchy pop classics.

They've released around 50 singles and 15 albums in that time, so rounding up their very best songs is a tricky but immensely enjoyable task.

We've squeezed (ahem) down their stunning back catalogue to just ten tracks.

It's probably no surprise that we've focused on that initial burst of success, when they released five albums in as many years between 1978 and 1982.

And here we go.

  1. Is That Love

    Squeeze - Is That Love? (Official Music Video)

    Squeeze really started pushing the boundaries of what a Squeeze song could be on their excellently titled fourth album East Side Story, which was co-produced by Elvis Costello.

    Its lead single was 'Is That Love?', which was given a tempo boost after early versions were missing that certain something.

    The lyrics are about the nature of love in the ups and downs of relationships, sparked by Chris Difford's then-recent wedding ("You've left my ring by the soap / Now is that love?").

  2. Goodbye Girl

    Squeeze - Goodbye Girl (Live at Liverpool Philharmonic, 2019)

    The lead single from Cool For Cats was, like all of Squeeze's hits, powered by a catchy tune from Tilbrook and Gifford, but it also had something quirky going on.

    The band's then-drummer Gilson Lavis offered a unique percussion track with a load of household items like bottles and tins.

    "Gilson constructed a washing line of bottles and bits of metal and tin and played them instead of a drum kit," Difford said.

    "It was a very inventive thing to do, slightly surreal, but it worked a treat."

    The band also recorded three slightly different versions of the track with ever-so-slightly different lyrics on the album, a UK single and a US single.

  3. Black Coffee in Bed

    Squeeze - Black Coffee In Bed (Official Music Video)

    'Black Coffee In Bed' was the lead single from Sweets from a Stranger, the last album before Squeeze's first split.

    It was a break-up song initially inspired by Difford spotting a coffee stain on his lyric notebook.

    "It was a very vivid image for me and inspired this song of loss and regret," he said.

    Despite not appearing in the video directed by Steve 'Billie Jean' Barron, the backing vocals on the recorded version of the song actually came from Paul Young and Elvis Costello.

  4. Labelled with Love

    Squeeze - Labelled With Love • TopPop

    We've already noted how the Squeeze sound was expanded on East Side Story and there was perhaps no better example than this country-inspired third single 'Labelled With Love'.

    This bitter tale of drinking, heartbreak, decline and memory, went all the way to number four in the UK singles chart.

  5. Take Me I'm Yours

    Squeeze - Take Me I'm Yours (Official Music Video)

    Where it all began.

    Squeeze's debut single 'Take Me I'm Yours' was one of the first songs Difford and Tilbrook wrote and it became something of a template of the first few years of their career, with its irresistible melody, sharp, snappy lyrics and delivery.

    "I was staying at my manager's house and his mother was or is an archaeologist. And she'd worked a lot in Egypt where Miles went to school," said Difford.

    "She had pictures and matching ornaments from that part of the world, and it inspired that kind of lyric. But it changed into a very different song over the years."

    Among the many covers over the years was a surprising take by Andrea Corr on her debut album Ten Feet High.

  6. Another Nail In My Heart

    Squeeze - Another Nail In My Heart (Official Music Video)

    Argybargy was the last Squeeze album to feature pianist Jools Holland before the group's first split.

    Apparently, Jools was tired of being somewhat sidelined in the group's sound, a state of affairs comedically summed up in the witty video for the excellent 'Another Nail in My Heart'.

    The clip features poor Jools lugging his piano across town to make it to the rest of the band, mid-performance, just in time to add that final flourish.

    On the rest of the song you've got those classic Squeeze Beatles-esque melodies, some marimba, and a fine Tilbrook solo.

  7. Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)

    Squeeze - Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)

    'Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)' was another single from Argybargy and look, well, we're not going to tell you what 'Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)' is Chris Difford's homemade slang for.

    We'll just say that it's a tale of holiday camp naughtiness elevated by fine solos from Tilbrook and Holland that, while it didn't set the charts alight, quickly became acknowledged as one of the band's power-pop masterpieces.

  8. Cool for Cats

    Squeeze - Cool For Cats (Official Music Video)

    Maybe Squeeze's most widely-known song, and it's easy to see why. Another irrepressible melody and too-fast-to-keep-up lyrics, it's one of the band's biggest hits, peaking at number two on the UK charts.

    The second single from the album of the same name, it also featured a rare lead vocal from Chris Difford. He usually passed his lyrics over to Glenn Tilbrook, but we simply cannot imagine this song without Difford's classic cockney sprechgesang.

    Of that title, Difford explained: "It was the first rock 'n' roll television show in England during 1959.

    "That's where the album and single title originated - I just worked it into some personal experiences within the lyrical content."

  9. Tempted

    Squeeze - Tempted (Official Music Video)

    Another rare Squeeze single that isn't sung by Glenn Tilbrook, 'Tempted' was – on the suggestion of co-producer Elvis Costello – sung by Jools Holland's shortlived keyboard replacement Paul Carrack.

    "They’d actually recorded a version of that song before I was on board. Dave Edmunds produced it, and it was completely different," Carrack later revealed.

    "The song was in the can, and we were recording the other songs from East Side Story when we had some downtime and played 'Tempted' but in that slow, soulful, Motown groove.

    "Elvis Costello, who was producing, ran in and said, 'Let's put this down on tape!' So, we did, and Elvis said 'Paul, you should sing it'."

    As the second single from East Side Story it stalled at number 41 in the charts, but despite that disappointment and Carrack leaving the band in 1982, it's become a classic Squeeze song, with Tilbrook taking lead vocal duties in concert.

  10. Up the Junction

    Squeeze - Up The Junction

    Squeeze were always proud of their British origins or worried about scaring off UK record-buyers... they called an album Argybargy and sang about getting up to naughtiness behind the chalets at Camber Sands.

    But maybe their most British song was 'Up The Junction', which was inspired by Neil Dunn's collection of short stories about the down-and-outs of Battersea and Clapham Junction ("I never thought it would happen/ With me and the girl from Clapham), and also the Ken Loach TV adaptation and Peter Collinson's later movie version.

    The third single from Cool For Cats, it matched the number two chart position of the title track that preceded it... and all that without a chorus, too.