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.


In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.