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When I first heard Squeeze doing Goodbye Girl, back around 1980 or so, I thought for a moment that it must be McCartney, returning to form at last, and I couldn’t have been alone in that; comparisons of the group’s ace songwriting duo of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford to Lennon and McCartney were being made all over the pop music press, and not without reason. Beginning in the late Seventies, Squeeze was at the very apex of a new set of performers emerging out of the U.K., along with accomplished peers like the English Beat, XTC, Madness, The Jam, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, and the Specials, that seemed to herald a new golden age in pop songwriting, and nobody, not even Costello, was writing them with quite the consummate skill of Difford and Tilbrook. It was one superlative, tightly-constructed little gem after another, Is That Love, Up The Junction, Another Nail For My Heart, Pulling Mussels From the Shell, Black Coffee in Bed, Annie Get Your Gun, Take Me I’m Yours, Tempted – the last surely the essential radio hit of the eraand today’s selection, all of them singable, danceable, and stuffed full of clever melodies, nifty time signatures, and wry, often witty lyrics, in the best tradition of the Sixties masters in whose company they surely belonged. For a couple of years there, what with the concurrent rise of other legendary acts like the Talking Heads, the Clash, the Split Enz, and U2, I felt like man, the Eighties were going to be great. Even the Kinks had a massive comeback hit, with the wonderful Come Dancing. Surely, pop/rock was once again emerging on to broad, sunlit uplands!

Then – poof! – it was all bloody Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Bananarama, Wham, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Culture Club, and all those frigging New Romantics, and darkness descended once more.

Their star faded, but the lads stayed sharp. Here’s a couple of lesser-known gems from after their peak:

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