College radio classics: Squeeze, “Hourglass” (1987)

squeeze1

(Above: Another 45 that college radio made me buy. It was a very expensive extra-curricular.)

As a part of my month-long celebration of college radio (lining up with the fact that I started in it 30 years ago, which is surreal), I’ve been going through surviving recordings of shows from my freshman year in radio. I’m not posting airchecks for all of them (and thank goodness, because progress from “lousy beginner” to “acceptably lousy beginner” was slow), but I am finding some records that I hadn’t thought about in years.

Squeeze was a band that I didn’t realize I knew. My introduction to the band would have come from hearing “Tempted” on the radio, probably on WXRT or WLUP.  It would have had to have been a rock station, now that I think about it, because the single failed to dent the Top 40, but that 1981 track stayed on rock radio’s radar for some time. The album it comes from, East Side Story, is one that I ended up acquiring later in college.  It’s not the “typical” sound as Paul Carrack did the lead singing on that track.  Carrack, who did a lot of singing for a lot of acts (Ace, Mike and the Mechanics), put out his own solo LP in the fall of 1987.  From that album, “Don’t Shed a Tear” got a lot of airplay on WLRA and remains a great song. (The copy that I own is still cue-burned from a crummy stylus in the WLRA studio.) It was probably that single that brought me back to East Side Story later on.  I have no recollection of hearing anything from Argybargy, the band’s first LP, until much later, when I was hip to the band’s back catalog and seeking out “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” which is a damned catchy record.

But at the same time I was spinning the Carrack single, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook got Squeeze back in the business of putting records out again.  Their 1987 LP, Babylon and On, yielded the only two other singles the band charted (and only Top 40 hits): “Hourglass” and “853-5937.”  “Hourglass” was one of the songs that I recall being on a cartridge tape in the studio; as I mentioned in talking about The Cure, the songs on cart got a lot of extra airplay due to panicked or lazy DJs. Needless to say, we heard it a lot that fall.

It’s a great song.  It’s got all the hallmarks of a big hit: it’s immediately recognizable in seconds, it’s got a catchy hook (even if you can’t figure out what they are saying), and it had a memorable video. Without question it’s one of those records that, any time I hear it, I picture myself hanging around Fitzpatrick Hall on a fall Saturday afternoon, getting ready to get on the air, put on a bit of a character, and transform myself into the radio personality I dreamed of one day becoming.

Take it to the bridge. Throw it overboard.  See if it can swim.  Hear the record here.

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