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4.6 out of 5 stars
East Side Story
Format: Audio CD|Change
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Squeeze's fourth studio album was planned to be their most ambitious, a double album with each side of the vinyl LP produced by a different person. The four people were Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and Paul McCartney. What eventually happened was a single album, mostly produced by Elvis Costello and Roger Bechirian, with one song, the cheerful album opener "In Quintessence" produced by Dave Edmunds. In retrospect, "East Side Story" was probably a much better finished product than the double album originally planned, as the single disc just about has enough top-notch material to ensure this is an almost entirely brilliant album. Had they stretched it out, perhaps it would be regarded as less of a success than it was. "East Side Story" is further notable for being their first album without Jools Holland and, instead, had Paul Carrack on keyboards and, famously, on vocals for the magnificent "Tempted".

The major highlights of "East Side Story" are the superb singles. "Tempted" is one of the finest songs Difford and Tilbrook have ever written, four minutes of absolute genius where the protagonist gets used to his newly found option after becoming single. Everything about this song is perfect, Carrack's vocals, Elvis Costello's two line cameo, the gorgeous organ, bass line and the fantastic Chris Difford lyrics where he, as always, makes the ordinary extraordinary. "Is That Love" is a supremely catchy track where the romantic notion of love is cynically dissected. The line "My assets froze while yours have dropped" always raises a smile. "Labelled With Love", delivered like an plodding old country and western song, is the superb tale of the back-story behind an eccentric woman and the poor existence she is barely living. It's beautifully human.

It's not just about the singles, though. "In Quintessence" is full of Difford double entendres, "Piccadilly" is a cracking song with humorous lyrics focusing around a date, a curry and a bit of stealth sex with Mum sleeping next door. "Someone Else's Bell" is a depressing tale of a couple having meaningless affairs because of the sorry state of their own relationship, but it makes for a fine song. The classical leanings of "Vanity Fair" make this story of a woman with nothing to offer other than looks underline the sad tone of the subject matter and "Messed Around", which was released as a single in the USA, is a pleasant piece of gentle rockabilly and ends the album with a whimper rather than a bang. The majority of the album is really very good indeed, the only track which falls a little short is "F-Hole", where the dreary music lets it down a little. One of the songs from the Nick Lowe sessions, "Looking For A Love", is a bonus track on the edition of "East Side Story" I own and it's a great song, but it's also a cover of a 1962 single by The Valentinos (featuring a young Bobby Womack). The other bonus track, "The Axe Has Now Fallen" is a Difford/Tilbrook original, is absolutely excellent and should definitely have made it onto the album, in my opinion.

One of Glenn Tilbrook's major songwriting strengths is that his music seldom goes in the direction the listener expects it to. His unconventional melodies, chord changes and major/minor shifts make his musical compositions compelling and always interesting to a musical mind tired of formulaic songs. It does, however, mean that listening to Squeeze albums can be hard work sometimes and can often take a good few listens before all of the tracks can be fully appreciated and enjoyed. I have personally found this true of "East Side Story" and it has taken me a good half a dozen listens to really "get" all of the songs. It'd be difficult to say that this was their singularly greatest piece of work, because much of their early work is superb and very accessible, however this is certainly amongst the best albums of their career and I'd recommend this one highly for anybody wanting to carefully venture beyond owning just a greatest hits collection.
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on 11 August 2017
I was gutted a few years back when I lost all my vinyl records in a house move. Squeeze's East Side Story was one of the first vinyl records I bought myself rather than having to squirrel away my mothers records when she wasn't looking. Having never got around to replacing it on CD I downloaded it recently and it definitely brought back memories of all those years ago when it was first released. Glen Tilbrook's voice is so instantly recognisable and I think this album demonstrates his flexibility with the type of songs he sings perfectly.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 October 2012
...and labelled with love.
It sure has. At least four of Squeeze`s greatest songs are here: Tempted, and the afore-quoted Labelled With Love, along with one of their most beautiful, Vanity Fair, its gorgeous orchestral arrangement by Del Newman, and the superb Is That Love?
With its two bonus tracks, this is yet another stunning set of songs from the finest post-60s pop/rock band. (In hindsight, I honestly think there`s never been a more consistently brilliant group in British rock history. They are our Steely Dan or Crowded House.)
Tempted is sung by occasional Squeeze member Paul Carrack, with his tremendous voice like a smoother Paul Rodgers - and there can be no higher praise. It`s a number to die for, and Carrack sings this gift of a song with all the taste and soulfulness at his considerable command (with Tilbrook singing a few lines too). You`ll want to play it again immediately, then again just to be sure you`re not dreaming. Yep, it is that good.
Labelled With Love is similarly beyond praise, their `country` song. It`s sung by the utterly wonderful Glenn Tilbrook, the best British singer since Lennon in his mid-sixties heyday, in my opinion. How to sufficiently praise or adequately describe this man`s wanton, expressive, joyous voice? That`ll have to do.
Someone Else`s Bell is another tremendous song on an album packed with `em. As another reviewer has pointed out, this is a little like a Greatest Hits, such is its overall excellence. Chris Difford`s always scintillating, invariably surprising lyrics are a marvel, and the band play these glorious songs with pitch-perfect wit and aplomb.
I love Squeeze - had you noticed? - and I love this album. If you haven`t heard this remarkable band yet, also look out for the albums Some Fantastic Place, Play, Ridiculous, Frank, Cool For Cats...and all the rest. An excellent 1-CD compilation is Essential Squeeze.
It`s all essential, though - labelled with love...
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on 1 March 2010
The epithet "perfect pop" is often overused, but in this case it fits exactly.

Difford & Tilbrook brought us, in their fourth studio album, a record of such lyrical and musical accomplishment that it's difficult to see how it didn't spawn half a dozen top-ten singles, instead of the one it unbelievably only did manage.

Of the three singles contained, only one made any significant impact on the charts at all - the lovely, rolling, melodic "Labelled With Love". Stuffed with poignant, witty lyrics, teasing us with rhymes that don't arrive (you'd think that after using the word "mittens", followed by the word "cat", we were all set for the mention of "kittens", but no!), its country-ballad sound echoed earlier classics such as "Goodbye Girl" and "Up The Junction" in that it was simple enough and tuneful enough to hit exactly the right spot. But the other two were woefully overlooked by the public at the time: the superb rocking, up-beat foot-stomper "Is That Love?" hardly tickled the top-40; while the classic "Tempted", their best-known number in America, didn't even make it that far.

But this is a surprise in a record packed with numbers that most bands would kill to include in their own back-catalogue. Why on earth the beautiful "Woman's World" wasn't chosen as a single, for instance, I have no idea; and "Piccadilly" sounds just as fresh and bouncy now as it did then - it brings a huge smile to my face every time I even think about it. In fact, I'm going to be bold and make the claim that there wasn't one single song on "East Side Story" that wasn't brilliant. A couple of reviewers have criticised "F-Hole" for letting the side down, but while I didn't like it when I first bought the album (years ago), I find these days that it's actually quite interesting, hypnotic even, and fits with the whole idea of experimentation that the band were obviously exploring at the time.

My only criticism of this edition of "ESS" is that the bonus tracks don't add anything. They're not really on a par with the original playlist, and you'd want your extras to add "something extra" to the package. But this is hardly a reason not to love the album. In fact, I can't think of any reason not to love the album.

You'd be mad not to buy it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
The singer-songwriting team of Difford and Tilbrook are in fine form here with superb compositions including 'In Quintessence' and 'Is That Love? being joined by classics such as the soulful 'Tempted' (great vocals from new keyboardist Paul Carrack) and the country-tinged 'Labelled With Love'. A splendid affair encompassing a wide range of styles - this is an album which is well worth investing in.
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on 1 February 2017
brought mainly as my favourite song from Squeeze on it [full length] Labelled with Love. few others I like too but had never heard.
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on 18 May 2016
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on 27 June 2015
Without the inevitable vinyl scratches it's even better than in the 80s :)
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on 10 December 2012
Another "classic Squeeze album to add to my almost complete Squeeze collection. Such a fantastic live band that translates very well to recording. You get what it says on the song list!
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on 12 July 2015
Great album
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