I haven’t been up here in ages, but recent developments force my reappearance. During the last week, I did nothing but scrape and paint the baseboards in my house. It was pleasing work because it was the first time I really listened to music for quite some time. For the most part, I listened to nothing but a tape I made in high school that paired Squeeze‘s East Side Story with Costello‘s Trust. Talk about a one-two punch! I forgot how great both of those slabs of wax were! I definitely see the two records as companion pieces. Costello’s production gives Squeeze more of an edge, and Squeeze’s influence, I’d like to believe, put a bit of a fire under Costello’s hiney. Both LPs are loaded with winners. On the Squeeze LP, I find no stinkers, and the Costello LP only has one: “Shot with His Own Gun”.
Don’t know about you, but I’d take Trust over Imperial Bedroom any day of the week. How about you? And pushing that further, which record, in your estimation, is better, Trust or East Side Story?
(Maybe you were lucky enough to catch Costello and Squeeze on their double-header tour when both were promoting the above records. If so, I envy you. I had to settle for a Squeeze performance at Gettysburg College. Costello couldn’t make the show. Flock of Seagulls took his place. Whatever. I was in high school, it was my first concert, and the whole thing was entertaining as hell. Squeeze was dynamite. They played nearly every song from East Side Story, and all of it sounded exactly like the record! I prefer that take over doing a “Jazz Odyssey” workout on well-known numbers. Those who appreciated what Costello did to his gems during his “Goodbye Cruel World” tour definitely have more adventurous appetities than myself.)
After I finished the baseboards, I scrambled over to my brother-in-law’s house to borrow some more Squeeze LPs: Argybargy and Sweets from a Stranger. Both had a gem or two, but for the most part, they were pretty bad. Too much nonsense about tea, biscuits, and the bath swaddled in rhythms and melodies that went nowhere. What happened? No Costello! No wonderboy who also produced the first Specials LP. No whizz kid who had that “everything I touch turns to gold Beatles Magic” that lasted until he started working on Imperial Bedroom.
Having a producer who’s brave enough to kick ass when egos get out of control is vitally important. There’s an endless list of artists who began to suck immediately when their egos decided their producer wasn’t necessary anymore. Why Squeeze ditched Costello and Costello ditched Nick Lowe will continue to be two of the greatest mysteries of life.
Anyway, get back to me ASAP with your thoughts on all this nonsense. And by the way, thanks for that Three O’Clock download.
E. Pluribus Gergeley
PS. If you have MP3s of “Real World” by the Buzzcocks and “Tell Me When My Light Turns Green” by Dexy’s send ’em my way. I’m dying to hear those tracks again!