TITLE: Sweets From a Stranger
YEAR RELEASED: 1982
CHART ACTION: #32 US, #20 UK
SINGLES: Black Coffee in Bed (#103 US, #26 Mainstream, #51 UK), When the Hangover Strikes, I’ve Returned
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: In Quintessence
LINEUP: Glenn Tillbrook, Chris Difford, John Bentley, Don Snow, Gilson Lavis
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Paul Carrack leaves, Difford and Tillbrook don’t have the songs, and while they have a video on heavy rotation, no one is really happy about the record, much less the band.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Almost every track on Sweets From a Stranger seems like it’s been done before. Maybe not by Squeeze, but there isn’t a lot of originality here. You have new wave sounding tracks, arty rock songs that sound a little Broadway-esque, and classic guitar-oriented pop songs. Only “Black Coffee in Bed” rises above the déjà vu feeling of the songs.
This even extends to lyrics, where Chris Difford mines the familiar themes of drinking and cheating, but without the originality and verve before. Glenn Tillbrook tries hard but gets too fancy by half on some tracks, and on others the tunes just seem a bit flat. The production didn’t help either – it was a bit busy in places and didn’t let the songs breathe.
“Black Coffee in Bed” was a classic, and MTV played the video like crazy in 1982 (even with Gilson Lavis dropping a drumstick). It’s not a bad album, but quite disappointing when measured by the preceding three Squeeze records. After this, they released a ‘final’ single (the brilliant “Annie Get Your Gun”) and split up for a bit. When they came back, their sound had morphed.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Some songs sounded like musical theatre tracks, and yes, Difford and Tillbrook did mount a short-lived musical in London in 1983.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Outtakes, demos, and “Annie Get Your Gun (#40 Mainstream, #43 UK)
GRADE: B- – A disappointment to say the least.