Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This Is Your Song For...November 20th, 2013: Labeled With Love by Squeeze

"Yep...put one over on all of them...except that
Deja fella..."
I know what you’re thinking--Tom’s about to go raving about another of his songwriting heroes.

You would be wrong.

This is, of course, the single every one forgets from Squeeze’s East Side Story, and one of a number of songs done by British artists about WWII war brides (Sure, it’s great, but I still prefer Elvis Costello’s ‘American Without Tears’).  The thing that makes this song remarkable is that it, like the rest of that album, reflects Difford and Tilbrook’s experimentation with American pop music styles; this is at its core a country song with a slow twangy shuffle.

I would go on, but this is not the version from East Side Story, but the version from Spot The Difference, from the latest version of Squeeze that is basically Difford, Tilbrook and whoever happens to be on tour with them at the time....and that’s why I’m pissed off by it.

Maybe it’s me, but the nostalgia-grabs that seem to pass for new albums from vintage artists--you know, where they re-record their old material either by themselves or with flavor of the month artists to give them a patina of hipness--bug the crap out of me.  They’re the inverse of creativity.  They represent the artist being too lazy, or too disinterested in his craft, to create new material.  Every time an artist ‘revisits’ his old material, he or she is counting on our nostalgia to line their pockets because, let’s face it, we’re going to eat it up so we can relive our own glory days--and it’s a surer sales juggernaut than putting a collection of new pieces out into the aether.

And while there are a number of people who bother me with their taking this route, Squeeze is amongst the worst offenders.  Since Difford and Tilbrook brought this version of the band back into existence in 2007, the only new material they’ve produced has been available only at their concerts or as bonus discs to concert DVDs available only at concerts.  And what they’ve released commercially is...Spot The Difference.  This is a whole record of re-recordings that are such slavish recreations of the orginal tracks it’s impossible to tell the difference.  This isn’t like Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut, where she transformed the originals into new configurations; this is a K-Tel-like soundalike act that made me wonder why I needed these versions when I still have the originals.

I love Difford and Tilbrook, who are amongst the greatest songwriting duos in the history of pop music.  I love their solo efforts--I frequently wonder if they’ve revived Squeeze solely as a nostalgia act to generate funds so they can pursue their solo work without interference.  But this version of Squeeze, and all the tracks from Spot The Difference, can go dangle from a rope for all I care.  If you want a great version of this song, find the original.

Here's a video of them performing the song.

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