PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Squeeze: Spot the Difference

Spot the Difference is a 14-song collection of Squeeze's best-known hits, which have been re-recorded, by the current line-up, as faithfully as possible to the original versions.


Spot the Difference

Label: XOXO
US Release Date: 2010-08-03
UK Release Date: 2010-08-03
Artist website

Nearly 35 years ago, Squeeze released its first record. Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook were promptly compared to another spectacularly talented songwriting team. Musicians dream about being called the next John Lennon or Paul McCartney, but it might not be the best thing for a group's career. Though the band had a string of hits that are clearly the pinnacle of pop classics, Squeeze didn't really achieve the kind of prosperity and recognition it deserved. Now, a little more than two years after Difford and Tilbrook reunited for a series of shows, Squeeze has released Spot the Difference.

The revitalized Squeeze line-up, which has been enjoying a very well-received tour this summer, includes drummer Simon Hanson and keyboardist Stephen Large—from Tilbrook's recent project the Fluffers—and veteran Squeeze bassist John Bentley, in addition to Tilbrook and Difford. Spot the Difference is a 14-song collection of Squeeze's best-known old hits, which have been re-recorded as faithfully as possible to the original versions. Hence the album's title. This isn't just some quick grab for cash, however. See, Difford and Tilbrook discovered that they don't control any of the rights to the Squeeze back catalog. So they not only aren't paid when those songs are used, they also have no authority over how, when and by whom the songs are used. It doesn't seem fair that songwriters of that caliber have no say in their own songs, does it? They cannot reclaim the old recordings, but they do control the new versions. Pretty clever.

As are the new recordings. Favorites like "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)", "Black Coffee in Bed" "Another Nail in My Heart", "Hourglass" and "Tempted" sound brilliant because they're magnificent compositions. They sound nearly indistinguishable from the earlier tracks because they were painstakingly recreated using a lot of the same equipment and similar recording techniques used on the originals. Former member Paul Carrack came in to supply his keyboard parts on "Loving You Tonight" and "Tempted", and he repeated his vocals on "Tempted" as well.

Not everything is an exact replica, though. I won't give them all away, but there are a few differences for listeners to spot. For instance, Tilbrook's voice is stronger, and it just sounds more consistent throughout, but especially on tracks like "Black Coffee in Bed" and "Up the Junction". In fact, it's fair to say all the vocals are more powerful. (Although, "Hourglass", really seems to me to be precisely as it was when I used to see the video on MTV, but perhaps that's partly the echoes of the excitement it engendered.) Some of the arrangements, through identical, do sound somehow more muscular; specifically "Black Coffee in Bed", "Pulling Mussels" and "Slap and Tickle" (which features the same Minimoog used in 1979). Tilbrook has mentioned that "Some Fantastic Place" is a bit more gospel than the original, but that was apparently how it was intended to be in the first place.

Tilbrook has also said he was inspired by seeing Brian Wilson and his band play meticulously accurate, but undeniably joyful versions of Beach Boys songs. Everything here sounds joyful and energetic, especially, in my opinion, "Another Nail in My Heart". That passionate energy is what makes each song sound so fresh and exciting, even though it's intentionally not new. Difford and Tilbrook are writing for the next Squeeze album, but for now fans can play Spot the Difference.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.