Cradle to the Grave – the album reviews – what do you think?

The Squeeze album Cradle to the Grave was released this month (or next if you’re in the USA! – sore point!). What have the critics had to say about it?

They DO write them like they used to!
By Steve Vanston on 6 Oct. 2015

How often have you heard music on the radio and said “ah, they don’t write them like that anymore”? Well, Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook do – after a such a long break since they last released new material and so many bands of their era doing the retro seen, going through the motions, this is such a positive shock to the system – this album is right up there with their best work. They’ve always been criminally under-rated and not had the commercial success they should have had post 1980, but I hope they get it with this album – stand out tracks are the title track, [[Nirvana]], [[Beautiful Game]], [[Open]]…actually they’re all great! And having seen them live in Plymouth a couple of weeks ago, you can just tell they wrote this stuff for the right reasons and are loving playing again. You never know with these two how long it will last, but hopefully this time it will be for a long time.

who’d have guessed that 33 years later I’d be listening to their latest and thinking that it’s probably their best ever. I say
By KH on 8 Oct. 2015

I vividly remember seeing them on their “final” tour in 1982 at Liverpool Royal Court and thinking at the time that it was just a shame that there would be no more Squeeze albums, who’d have guessed that 33 years later I’d be listening to their latest and thinking that it’s probably their best ever. I say “probably” in case I’m suffering from new album fever, but right now I think it’s right up their with Argy Bargy and East Side Story, other reviewers are right there isn’t a bad track on the album, the download contains four additional tracks, the marvellous Hangin’ Round which in my opinion should have made the 12 for the CD, and is potentially a classic of “Black Coffee” proportions, and a cover of Harper Valley PTA which is so good it sounds like Glenn and Chris wrote it! I previously thought that Dexys’ “One Day I’m Going to Soar” was the best 21st century album by a 20th century artist, but Squeeze have surpassed it. If I last another 33 years I hope Squeeze do to, and they release another couple of masterpieces. Buy it and don’t forget the autorip for the additional tracks.

Squeeze’s very best
By P. G. James on 7 Oct. 2015

How often do bands release their best album during their third incarnation and thirty-five years after their supposed heyday? The answer is never at all, until now that is and Squeeze and their extraordinary new album, ‘Cradle to the Grave’.

I might just have raised an eyebrow when Jools Holland in a recent interview described Glenn Tilbrook as a genius composer comparable to Burt Bacharach. Well, after hearing this album that statement no longer seems remotely absurd. So melodically memorable are all the album’s twelve songs that at any given time I might have no less than three of them whirring around in my head at the same time, only to be replaced by another three and so on. The chord changes are as delicious as we’ve come to expect from Squeeze as is the standard of the musicianship from all concerned. How Glenn Tilbrook’s singing voice has managed to retain its youthful vigour after all these years is I’m sure a mystery even to the man himself and although Chris Difford’s equally distinctive bass-baritone isn’t featured singing lead on this album it’s there on most of the tracks underpinning Tilbrook’s high tenor for their famous and unique octave-apart duets. The use of strings and gospel flavoured choir on a few of the tracks is tastefully done and really help songs like ‘Open’ pack an emotional punch.

I’m trying not to play this album more than once a day on the basis that you can have too much of a good thing, but I can tell you that I’m finding it very difficult!

Mission accomplished Mr Tilbrook
By Mr. Stuart Wishart on 2 Oct. 2015

In interviews before they began making this album, Glenn made the observation that he didn’t see the point of making a new Squeeze album unless it was the best thing they had ever done. My heart sank at the time as I read that as code for “We’ll see but maybe nothing will ever be released”. If you do purchase this album you will be getting what is in my opinion quite simply the best album they have ever made. As Madness did a few years back with “Norton Folgate” they’ve shown that they can still surprise us by raising the bar another notch. Song for song it is up there with the best of their 90s work such as Play but with an energy and a cohesive group feel that that fine album cannot match. It’s hard to compare with early classics such as Eastside Story because of the unfair advantage that nostalgia lends but it’s pretty darned close. When I heard that backing singers and orchestra were being employed I worried that the essential “Squeeze sound” might be diluted (I really am a pessimist, aren’t I) but again they are tastefully employed and enhance the great writing at the heart of this album. Whilst some may bemoan the lack of a Difford vocal, he is far from hiding in the shadows. He duets with Glenn on several tracks, including the outstanding “[[Honeytrap]]” and “[[Only 15]]” the latter of which has been in my head on a permanent loop for days. And unless my ears are deceiving me, isn’t that a counter melody that he sings on the chorus of “Beautiful Game”? Inspired. I’d love to go through the album track by track but I really would get boring with trying to find new superlatives. All I’ll say is the T-shirts being sold on their tour bearing the words ” I’d Forgotten How Much I Like Squeeze” are unjust. I hadn’t forgotten at all, but with this album they’ve just made me love them even more.

Squeeze – Cradle To The Grave
(Virgin EMI) UK release date: 2 October 2015
by Rob Mesure | first published: 29 Sep 2015 in albums

Danny Baker makes little apology for the lack of authentic grit and misery in Going To Sea In A Sieve, his memoir of growing up in 1970s Bermondsey: “What was our life like in the noisy, dangerous and polluted industrial pock mark [in] one of the capital’s toughest neighbourhoods?” asks the ever-affable broadcaster. “Utterly magnificent, and I’d give anything to climb inside it again.” Now that the book is being brought to vivid brown-and-orange life in the BBC series Cradle To Grave, who better to provide original songs for the soundtrack than Baker’s old schoolmate Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook?

Since their most recent reunion in 2007, Squeeze have released Spot The Difference – a 2010 album of classic songs re-recorded – and an EP of new songs, but Cradle To The Grave is the first full album of (mostly) new material to emerge in 17 years. Tilbrook initially contacted Baker after reading his book with a view to working on a musical; what has emerged instead is an album that complements a television series, but works just as well without it.

Difford and Tilbrook, both clearly back on something approaching the top of their respective games, write in a variety of styles here, echoing the grab-bag approach that worked so well on East Side Story. The excellent title track has vamping ukulele and piano and gospel backing vocals, while [[Nirvana]] is a middle-aged disco shuffle; Top Of The Form tips a hat to former producer Elvis Costello and the stand-out [[Sunny]] – a re-write of Tommy from 2012’s Packet Of Four EP – marries an Eleanor Rigby string arrangement to schools programming analogue synthesiser.

But above all, these sound like Squeeze songs: back together but still an octave apart, Difford’s gruff and conversational brogue is, as always, perfectly complemented by Tilbrook’s breezy and boyish tones, almost untarnished by the intervening years. A rather underrated guitarist – bands of their era not necessarily being looked to for technical chops – Tilbrook’s playing is also undimmed by the passage of time: his solo on Happy Days in particular is all jazzy chromatic runs and country twang, like the offspring of Larry Carlton and Carl Perkins.

Taking situations encountered by the young Baker and his family as starting points, Difford tackles these teenage reminiscences with characteristic wit and feeling. There’s awkward fumbling at a party in [[Only 15]] and the agony of schooldays in Top Of The Form (“the teachers all loathed me”), while [[Sunny]] basks in the liberation that music seemed to offer; only [[Haywire]], detailing the protagonist’s pubescent (ahem) ‘private time’ borders on too much information. Meanwhile, [[Nirvana]] is an affecting look at the parents left behind when the children leave the nest, unsure how to spend their new found freedom: “He quibbled with ambition, she fell into a rut.”

As implied by Baker’s fond recollection, this is mostly nostalgia without the ache, the madeleine dunked in a steaming mug of Bovril. While the penultimate [[Everywhere]] hints at dissatisfaction with where life has led (“The debris of my life will never let me sleep”), the closing [[Snap Crackle and Pop]] is optimistic (“I’ve been giving my past away … Now I’m living with the best of me”). Warm, melodic and acutely observed, Cradle To The Grave is a convincing return from two of our very finest songwriters.


CD: Squeeze – Cradle to the Grave
Wise old south London rockers wander fruitfully down memory lane
by Jasper Rees
Saturday, 26 September 2015

Steeped in nostalgia: ‘Cradle to the Grave’, Squeeze’s first studio album in 17 years

The album of the sitcom. You don’t get a lot of those, and technically – beyond the title song – you don’t get one here either. “Cradle to the Grave” is the theme tune for Danny Baker’s autobiographical comedy currently on BBC Two, based on his memoir of growing up in south London in the same vicinity as Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. In fact, the song came first. Squeeze’s 14th studio album, their first since 1998, has been several years in the brewing: they resumed touring in 2007 and pondered writing new material four years ago. The result is that rock’n’roll collectors’ item, an album not only steeped in nostalgia but also honest about the day-to-day realities of middle age.

“[[Nirvana]]” is a classic Squeeze narrative song, as rich in observed detail as “[[Cool for Cats]]”, about a couple falling apart after the kids have left home (“He quivered with ambition/She fell into a rut”). The cheerful antidote is “[[Happy Days]]” about hopping off for a weekend in the country. “[[Open]]”, complete with backing vocals, is a heart-warming snapshot of a wedding in a church. “[[Only 15]]” finds a parent setting a curfew for his daughter. Other songs take the form of mini-memoirs: “[[Beautiful Game]]” pays homage to the days when football had local roots; “[[Sunny]]” and “[[Top of the Form]]” both visit the musical influences of youth.

They’re older and plumper, but this is a band that still sounds very much like itself thanks to the ageless vocal pairing of Tilbrook’s yearning tenor and Difford’s bass growls. After all these years Tilbrook hasn’t lost the knack for imaginative melodies, while Difford’s lyrics are still an enthusiastic verbal pile-up (sometimes causing a stress to land jarringly on the wrong syllable). And while there are new instrumental backdrops, all along there are echoes of yesteryear – a bit of Boomtown Rats piano, the Style Council’s noodly major sevenths, even a string quartet reminiscent of “Eleanor Rigby”.

Forget the sitcom. Cradle to the Grave feels more like the promising first step on the road to a stage musical.

CD Review: Squeeze, Cradle to the Grave (Virgin EMI)
Keith Bruce / Wednesday 30 September 2015 / Arts & Ents

It is, apparently, almost two decades since we have heard new songs from the collaborative pen of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, which seems hardly credible. But the dozen new numbers on this disc, composed to soundtrack the upcoming television version of journalist Danny Baker’s memoirs, in which Peter Kay and Lucy Speed will play his mother and father, are apparently the first since 1998’s Domino album.

Neither man has been exactly idle since then, however, and even the band has been a going concern again since 2007, so what is fresh and vital about this new collection? Let’s just say that is probably the wrong question. Challenged to provide some new Squeeze material to accompany a narrative that is essentially an exercise in comic nostalgia set in the Deptford barrio where all the protagonists grew up, these seasoned pros have done just that. It is unmistakably a Squeeze album, filled with the sort of characteristic plangent chord progressions and ear-catching turns of phrase the band was famed for, and Tilbrook’s high tenor voice, sometimes underscored by Difford’s unison Octaver pedal echo, is undiminished by the passing of the years.

The single, [[Happy Days]], is probably the equal of anything the pair wrote in their chart heyday and the album’s singular sonic distinction is a nice line and gospel and soul vocal choruses and backing vocals, but if you what you have been waiting for is a Squeeze album to expand your collection, this will certainly not be a disappointment.

Keith Bruce

Powerpop CD Review: Squeeze’s From the Cradle to the Grave

Squeeze is back with their first new material in 17 years. Written for the BBC comedy series From the Cradle to the Grave, the album by the same name consists of a dozen new songs set for release on October 2.

Written for a show with a nostalgic bend, the songs on From the Cradle to the Grave are mellower than earlier Squeeze efforts for the most part. The title track is the only song that isn’t brand new as it was recorded when the series was still in pilot stage. But it’s a bit up tempo and Glenn Tilbrook’s voice is always pleasing, if not pitch perfect.

“[[Nirvana]]”, the albums second song, opens up with the same piano bit that opens The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” before lapsing into a faux-disco vibe. It and the next song, “[[Beautiful Game]]” (revolving around soccer as you probably guessed) are more in the storytelling vein of Difford’s lyrics from back in the day.

“[[Happy Days]]” picks up the pace a bit and finishes with a neat gospel bit – a really nice touch. The gospel theme carries into the next song, “[[Open]]”, leading into “[[Only 15]]”, a story about trying to find ones way through the awkward teen social scene.

Other favorites include “[[Sunny]]”, a violin led tale about adolescence and the series character’s life choices, “[[Haywire]]”, (which I presume is about adolescent hormones) with its country twang, and “[[Snap Crackle and Pop]]”, with its uplifting retrospective.

Squeeze’s From the Cradle to the Grave will be released as a limited edition on CD and on vinyl, release date is set for October 2.

Album review: SQUEEZE – Cradle To The Grave
Posted on September 30, 2015 by jason
SQUEEZE – Cradle To The Grave
[Release date 02.10.15]

Squeeze return with their first album of new songs since 1998. The impetus for this has come from radio and TV veteran Danny Baker’s memoir being made into a TV series. Squeeze have provided a soundtrack of songs to go with the period the series is set, namely the mid-late 1970′s and taking the book as their cue for most of the song’s themes.

Squeeze mainstays Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, are joined by drummer Simon Hanson, keyboards player Stephen Large and relative newcomer Lucy Shaw sharing bass duties with John Bentley, who has now left the band. There are a few guests including a couple of Nine Below Zero band members in Mark Feltham and Dennis Greaves.

Being a Squeeze album there is plenty of jaunty, upbeat pop from the title track through to the 70′s disco beat with strings on ‘[[Nirvana]]’ (which has a piano intro lifted straight from a Boomtown Rats classic!). ‘[[Happy Days]]’ has been released as the single and it is the most instant song on here, although to be fair Difford and Tilbrook don’t pen songs that lack appeal.

‘[[Beautiful Game]]’ is a misty eyed look at the football from the 50′s and 60′s. As Danny Baker is a Millwall fan, so unlikely they ever had any glory days and only got misty eyed when running from away fans.

‘[[Sunny]]’ is a lovely mix of ELO-approved strings and some 70′s musical sounds, on a song that recalls the sunnier side of living through the 1970′s. ‘[[Honeytrap]]’ deserves to be another single with an ice cream van riff, okay it is most probably a keyboard but it does sound like an ice cream van! The harmonica playing of Mark Feltham gives the song a real kick midway through.

The good thing about this album is that although the majority of the songs form a soundtrack to a TV series, the songs stand fine on their own. Yes there is a heavy nostalgia and love-in with the 1970′s; however this is where Squeeze come into their own detailing the small parts of everyday life and creating perfect pearls of pop. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Album Review: Squeeze, Cradle To The Grave

By Graham Clark, Gig Correspondent

This new album from Squeeze is their first album of new songs since 1998. If you saw them recently on Later… With Jools on BBC2 you will know that they still have plenty to offer.

The album starts off with [[Cradle To The Grave]], the song features in the TV comedy series of the same name, based on Danny Baker’s autobiography and also strafing Peter Kay, the song is vintage Squeeze, with its skiffle type beat and observational lyric the track is one of the best on the album.

Elsewhere the track [[Nirvana]] starts off with a keyboard riff that sounds like The Boomtown Rats hit I Don’t Like Mondays before moving on to another track that sounds like vintage Squeeze.

The first single taken off the album is [[Happy Days]] and again it’s another jaunty track that could only be Squeeze with Glen Tilbrook’s vocals being underpinned by the deep backing vocals of Chris Difford. It is interesting to note that on the album Glenn Tilbrook performs lead vocals on the tracks and Chris Difford can’t be heard singing lead on any of the tracks. We will just have to suffice with the old hit [[Cool For Cats]]!

On [[Top of the Form]], a track about old school days recalls the 1970’s with references to Starsky and Hutch! The Beatles influences are present on the track [[Sunny]]: this could be the 21st relation of She’s Leaving Home. Squeeze always come up with a great lyric and here it’s like a storyline about the process of growing up, going to festivals, having children, getting older and how time passes by.

Great album, don’t leave it so long next time please!

3 out of 5

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