Song 247: Squeeze, “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” (1980)


We all need bands that we forget we love. Bands that, when they come on the radio, are a satisfying, pleasant reminder of music we don’t listen to very often. For me, that band is Squeeze.

Why do I forget I love them? It’s certainly not because of any lack of musical talent or songwriting skills. I think it’s because there was something humble about Squeeze, something unassuming and deceptively simple. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford wrote songs that go down easy but take unexpected paths.

Take, for example, “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)”, a song from the band’s third record. Musically, the song is an airtight pop song, all leaping basslines and choppy electric guitars. But who would have expected a (fantastic) bluesy piano solo? A guitar solo consisting only of octaves? Mixing the stories of William Tell and Robin Hood?

That’s just Squeeze for you. They’re big in the U.K., but they’re best known here for “Tempted,” a booooooring ballad that pales in comparison to their best work. Maybe they’re everybody’s forgotten favorite band.


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