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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Sweets From A Stranger
Format: Audio CD|Change
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Squeeze's fifth studio album is one that I've found a little more difficult to love than all of its predecessors, but it's also fair to say that I haven't given it as much time as other Squeeze albums I've enjoyed more since I first bought it back in 2009, so I've had to listen to it quite a few times over the past few days and, when you do give it more attention, it reveals itself to be a very good collection of songs, indeed. "Sweets From A Stranger" is nowhere near as instant as their fourth, "East Side Story", is arguably the weakest Squeeze album to date (at that point) and a little too slick in the production, but many of the songs are much stronger than I first thought and, like many complex albums, repeated listening reveals many rewards.

There is one absolutely massive hit on here, one of Squeeze's best known and loved songs, "Black Coffee In Bed", which I love so much I could probably write an essay on it; it is one of those irresistible combinations of a superb Difford lyric about a freshly single man enjoying his new life with one of Tilbrook's most catchy and commercial white soul scores. When you listen to it, it is difficult to do anything but sing along to Glenn's utterly brilliant vocals, grin with pleasure at the wonderful guitar solo and enjoy the superb Elvis Costello and Paul Young on perfect backing vocals. My copy (the 2008 re-issue) also contains the excellent "Annie Get Your Gun", packed full of energy and melody. The other bonus tracks include the enjoyable "I Can't Get Up Any More" and the brilliant "When Love Goes To Sleep", a classy composition which has Abba-like keyboard touches and sounds, to my ears, like another hit that really should have been. "Last Call For Love", which sounds very much like ELO, is also rather gorgeous, but also sounds slightly unfinished.

My favourite tracks on the original album are the Attractions-like "I Can't Hold On", the excellent, laid-back "Points Of View", the smoky, jazz-influenced "When The Hangover Strikes", "I've Returned", which is surely one of the most overlooked Squeeze songs ever and should have been a single (it was released on 7", but only in The Netherlands), "Elephant Ride" is a dreamy, discordant delight and "Tongue Like A Knife" is a great song with a slightly classical arrangement and an excellent Difford lyric. The less said about the rest of the tracks, the better; they range from the average ("Out Of Touch") to the near-unlistenable ("The Very First Dance"). "His House Her Home", for example, has great words, but is spoilt for me by the underwhelming music and a limp vocal. I prefer the "demo" version which is amongst the bonus tracks. So many of the songs were about break-ups, drinking and general unhappiness, so it isn't difficult to ascertain what frame of mind the band were in at that point.

Squeeze, certainly Glenn and Chris, were slightly burnt out whilst making "Sweets From A Stranger"and, with A&M giving them a demanding release schedule to keep the momentum going, this album wasn't quite as well conceived as it could have been, so it was no surprise that they split, temporarily, after this release. I'm sure the fact that it garnered the most lukewarm critical reviews they had ever received as a band didn't help, either. To surmise, I have to concede that, although it isn't a bad album at all, there are more than a handful of Squeeze albums better than their fifth and that, while there is plenty to like and love here, there are other Squeeze albums much more wholly enjoyable than this one. Still, this is Squeeze we're talking about, so even their lesser albums are only lesser by their standards and any album with "Black Coffee In Bed" on it can't be bad.
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on 1 June 2017
This fifth album from Squeeze bucked the trend up that point in that every album was an improvement on the one before. This was probably due to a combination of an intense touring schedule coupled with an inevitable fall off particularly after the previous classic East Side Story. I believe it is underrated however. If viewed on its own merits rather than by comparison I think it does just fine. Most folk will know Black Coffee in Bed the album's only hit single and the stand out track but dig deeper and the likes of The Elephant Ride, Points of View, I've Returned, When the Hangover Strikes and I Can't Hold On reveal themselves to be great Squeeze songs. It's true that there are some filler tracks and these do lessen the album's overall impact but give it a try or download the tracks I've mentioned and I hope you will agree that this isn't half bad.
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on 14 March 2008
By 1982 Squeeze were one of the biggest of the New Wave bands, in both the UK and America, and had enjoyed consistent critical and commercial success for 4 years. The song writing axis of Difford & Tilbrook was being championed as the new Lennon & McCartney and their last long player, Eastside Story, had received brilliant reviews and spawned a top 5 single.
Their record company, A&M, were keen on releasing a new record as quickly as possible so as to capitalise on their latest US success and to consolidate the bands high profile positon in Britain.
The resulting album, with new keyboardist Don Snow, was a mixed bag of slick pop/rock, poorly realised arrangements and too little preparation. Many of the songs suffered from an over - reliance on modern technology and as such there is dated feel to SFAS that is missing from most of the rest of their back catalogue (see also Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti).
But this being Difford & Tilbrook there are at least four truly great Squeeze songs - 'I've Returned' is a energenic power popper with a stunning Difford lyric and a tight band performance, 'Tongue Like A Knife' is a wonderfully orchestrated and near literal tale of infedelity, 'Elephant Ride' an accoustic strummer with a Beacboysesque melody and a passionate Tilbrook vocal and 'Black Coffee In Bed' a slick Temptations pastiche and massive live favourite.
The rest veers from the sublime - 'When The Hangover Strikes' and 'Points Of View' to the ridiculous - 'Stranger Than The Stranger On the Shore'. It was Squeeze's most polished sounding record to date but the heart and soul so prevalent on previous releases is largely lacking.
Of the extra tracks on this 2008 remastered reissue 'Elaphant Girl' is a spritely and poppy tale of interracial longing (and should have gone on the album propper) and 'Spanish Guitar' a mood piece with a wobbly Difford vocal. The bouncy non album single 'Annie Get Your Gun' also shines in this context - although it's more Monkees than Beatles.
Sweets From A Stranger is by no means a dissaster - it's just not anywhere near as consistent as Argybargy & Eastside Story. The remastering is great though !

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on 4 February 2009
Difford and Tilbrook have mixed feelings about this album, mainly because they were exhausted and had almost pulled the plug on Squeeze by the time it was conceived. Sure there is some filler in there, and the production shows the first signs of the dated 80's production excesses of the two subsequent albums, but the average songwriting quality remains excellent(When The Hangover Strikes is my absolute favourite). The remastering job is very good, not too loud / too compressed like all other reissues out there. But the usual flaws with expanded editions are there, mainly the missing track: of all the non-album songs released at the time, all are there (and it's great having the ultra-rare I'm At Home Tonight on CD for the first time) except The Hunt, the excellent atmospheric b-side of Black Coffe In Bed. So you'll still have to look for the original 7". Instead you get a sub-par demo of His House Her Home and the available everywhere else Annie Get Your Gun, so it's not like there was no time left on the CD.
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on 19 October 2010
Ok, so is it Squeeze's best album, no. But it is probably my fourth favourite Squeeze album {after 'East Side Story' and 'ArgyBargy' and 'Some Fantastic Place'}, the songs definitely deal with darker subjects than their first four albums, and a lot of the songs are about drinking and relationships breaking up, and I think this is reflected in the dark cover, with the bands faces in shadow.
The amazing 'Black coffee in bed' is a true masterpiece, and contains an opening 10-note organ riff that is heard at pretty much every Squeeze gig! I also love the funny 'I've Returned' and the marvellous curiosity that is 'Stranger than the stranger on the shore'. One thing is for sure, Squeeze never fail to surprise!
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on 13 July 2009
Although mysteriously under-rated by some, Sweets From A tranger remains one of my favourite Squeeze albums. Sure, it's slightly darker in tone and more experimental than some other Squeeze releases - but to my ears it's all the better for it! Don't despair - there are some wonderful moments of pure classic Squeeze to be found here: from the rollicking "I've Returned", the up-tempo "I Can't Hold On", the wistful reggae shuffle of "Points Of View", the slightly bonkers "Stranger Than The Stranger.." to the sublime (and oddly touching) "The Elephant Ride" (possibly my favourite Squeeze song ever..).

And with the inclusion of some Squeeze's best B-sides (Spanish Guitar & The Elephant Girl are a must in any Squeeze fans collection)and the classic singles "Annie Get Your Gun" and "Black Coffee In Bed", this CD really is a must. And all for a knockdown price...!!

Buy with confidence. You won't be disappointed.
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on 13 March 2012
squeeze's classic album Sweets From A Stranger, is an album I had on vinyal when I was a little boy. Back in 1982 I used to play this album a lot. Several years later I have rediscuovered it after many years had pasted, it brought back so many happy memories for me thank you. ed

album review by Eddie Wadsworth.
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on 22 May 2013
One of my favourite Squeeze albums. Absolutely love it. Some great tracks. Brings me back to my late teens. Memories!
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