Squeeze – Cool For Cats (1979)
“Cool For Cats” is Squeeze’s second studio album and finds Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford really getting into their songwriting stride, with no less than four absolutely fantastic hits on it, although this release is certainly a lot more than just the chart successes. After thoroughly playing Squeeze’s “Greatest Hits” to death, I deemed them too good to simply stick with a best of and so I, about five years ago, set about buying their studio albums and “Cool For Cats” is certainly one worth investing in. Although most fans would agree that they would go on to make better albums than this one, any album that has “Cool For Cats” and “Up The Junction” on it has to be recognised as something a little bit special. It’s a great place to start if you want to hear more great Squeeze songs than just the tracks which (occasionally) get played on music TV shows and the radio.
I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the version of the brilliant “Slap and Tickle” which opens this album, as it is markedly different to the one on the “Greatest Hits” compilation I owned and is slightly more light and breezy. The beautifully melodic, toe-tapping “Revue” is excellent, “Touching Me Touching You” is a brilliantly furious, catchy track (is it really about self pleasure?), “It’s Not Cricket” bounces along superbly with some hilarious “Carry On”-style lyrics and “It’s So Dirty” has a superb new wave Elvis Costello & The Attractions feel to it, featuring some rather seedy lyrics about pulling older, married women. Another excellent album track is “Slightly Drunk”, which is a lovely Beatlesque composition that could easily have come from “Beatles For Sale” or “Help!”, if it was around three-quarters of the tempo Squeeze performed it in and, well, had a slightly different subject matter.
The hits, mainly tucked away at the end of the album, are excellent. “Goodbye Girl” (slightly reminiscent of the theme from The Muppet Show) has a delightful, near-Calypso aura to it, masking the sadness of the lyrics perfectly. The undeniable classic “Cool For Cats” is almost impossible to dislike, with Chris’ amusing lyrics delivered in a very geezer-ish manner, against an irresistible up-tempo beat and Jools’ superb electric piano licks. “Up The Junction”, in my opinion, is simply one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s up there with the best compositions by Lennon & McCartney, a perfect marriage of some of Difford’s greatest “ordinary life” lyrics and the most sublime melody backed by some of the most truly inspired and innovative chord & key changes Tilbrook has ever written, all nicely bundled up in a brilliant Jools Holland keyboard riff. From a whirlwind romance to a birth and a ruined relationship, all in the space of just over three minutes and delivered with passion by Glenn’s gorgeous voice. It’s strange how a song that sounds so joyous can easily bring tears to my eyes… a work of absolute genius.
All-in-all, this album is the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, a tight, energetic musical outfit who have just progressed from writing good songs to writing truly great songs. It’s a brilliant piece of work from one of the best bands this country has ever produced and comes highly recommended.