Review of Spot The Difference Album by Squeeze

It's got to the point now that I almost feel obliged to provide a bio when talking about Squeeze, the South London band who provided much of the new wave's most palatable moments. Formed in 1974 at the height of the pub rock era, childhood friends Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford had alongside them in their first incarnation one Jools Holland, and undoubtedly it was the period before his eventual departure in 1980 which saw most of their finest moments.

Squeeze Spot The Difference Album

Difford and Tilbrook are still recording and touring under the Squeeze name today after several splits and reformations, as well as having solo careers. For the band's fans there have also been a stream of pseudo Greatest Hits to empty their wallets to; depending on how you define these things, Spot The Difference will in fact be the thirteenth iteration of this premise since 1982's Singles - 45's & Under, a staggering fact when you consider that the band have only produced twelve original studio albums.

Spot The Difference's slightly barefaced twist is that the modern day line up came together and faithfully re-recorded 14 early classics, thus challenging their presumably shell shocked fans to well, spot the difference and fork out yet again.

If the premise is one directly from the school of flogging a dead horse, it's still worth reminding everybody at this point that the pony in question has some real breeding. Difford and Tilbrook in their heyday were mentioned in the same breath as Lennon and McCartney, and whilst the comparison might raise a smile now, at their best the duo were alongside Elvis Costello as songwriters of a generation.

You've heard all the songs here before - although Is That Love and Some Fantastic Place could quite easily have been replaced with the superior Annie, Get Your Gun and I've Returned - and by and large they stay true to the originals as promised. In many ways their fidelity wasn't the question though, and even the welcome return of Paul Carrack to reprise his wonderfully soulful vocals on Tempted can't wash the feeling away of having your pocket picked. A braver move would've been to follow up 1998's last studio outing Domino, but despite the undeniable pleasure of hearing Up The Junction, Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) and Labelled With Love again, Spot The Difference simply feels like the ultimate pointless exercise.

Andy Peterson

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