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Squeeze rue ruthless labels

Cool For Cats and Up The Junction may not have been possible today, they say

  • 23/03/2010
  • Ian Youngs
Squeeze. Photo: Will Strange

Pop group Squeeze have said hits like Cool For Cats and Up The Junction would not have happened if the band were starting out in today's music industry.

Singer Glenn Tilbrook said they would have been dropped before finding success if their record label had been under current financial pressures.

He said: "If we'd been placed under the same commercial criteria, I think we'd have been gone after our first album."

Their second album, which came out in 1979, contained their biggest hits.

He was speaking as the group were honoured with a plaque at the site of one of their first gigs in south east London.

Tilbrook and Chris Difford returned to the Greenwich Borough Hall - where they played in 1975 - for the unveiling.

Asked whether they would like to be starting out today, Tilbrook told BBC 6 Music: "I don't think there's the same freedom and I feel really sorry for people who are up and coming now."

Squeeze did not experience record label interference until their "sixth or seventh" album," he added. "Which is pretty amazing, to just be left alone to make records and grow and develop as a band."

"There aren't record companies that will stick by you if your single doesn't do well."

Chris Difford

Their self-titled debut album did not reach the UK top 40 and Tilbrook said they may not have survived if that had happened today.

"We had barely a top 20 hit with Take Me I'm Yours and I don't know if that would have been good enough."

Difford added: "There aren't record companies that will stick by you if your single doesn't do well.

"If you don't do well, you're out the door. Whereas our record company, A&M, in those days, would stick behind you."

The pair performed acoustic versions of Up the Junction and Take Me I'm Yours when they returned to Greenwich Borough Hall on Tuesday, 35 years after their debut at the venue.

The plaque was erected as part of a new heritage scheme by songwriters' body PRS For Music.

It says Squeeze "first gigged here". But Tilbrook admitted: "If truth be told, this was our third gig, here. But the previous two had taken place in places that have been knocked down since, so this is the first place we could really commemorate."

Difford recalled that they had some indirect help from David Bowie for the original concert.

"I've got a cassette of it actually. We had a much larger sound system than we anticipated because the guy who was looking after us was working for a company run by David Bowie. We'd managed to borrow some of David Bowie's PA, so we went over the top."

The band are heading back out on tour in November and December. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

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