This is a great, neglected album, beautifully paced with not a dull moment. Unlike anything else that he did before or after it, Squeezing has none of the Van Morrison-style pastiche R&B effects of GP's previous lps. Nor does it sound like the Springsteen-style affairs that immediately follow it. Instead, it has a hard new wave sheen, not too far away from The Only Ones or even Television, strewn with spiky guitars and great drumming. The man who does the singing wears an angry smile, and there are lyrics to match - words that capture a moment when hedonism and protest collided, joyous and cynical at the same time. The funny, angry rush of a song like Protection has the kind of frenzied attack that only the Clash could really match. You Can't Be Too Strong, on the other hand, draws you in with its gentleness and empathy, into a situation that becomes more real with every line.
This is GP's greatest strength - the ability to make it sound as if he is talking, almost, about something that happened yesterday. On Squeezing, he combines his slightly gawky warmth with a headlong approach; we hurtle through song after song, anticipating the moment when the brilliance must come to an end but never reaching it. Alongside GP's tireless singing, Brinsley Schwartz's fantastic guitar playing is perhaps the key. No longer backed by horns, fully exposed, he snaps and crackles.
There are only classics on Squeezing Out Sparks, and this release won't change that. It includes two excellent bonus tracks, a great Motown cover in I Want You Back and the hilarious Mercury Poisoning, a dismissal of a record company on a par with the Sex Pistols' EMI. On the day of this album's release, GP really was, as the song says, the best kept secret in the west.