Magazine (USA) on 6th August
(in the 'worth a listen' column): The Incomplete Glenn
Tilbrook - Glenn Tilbrook (Quixotic)
lush, lovely and literate pop, including a confessional about "Interviewing
Randy Newman" from one of the main Squeeze men.
- August 2001 - From the web site popmatters.com
The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook
US release date: 28 August 2001
UK release date: 21 May 2001
by Gary Glauber
PopMatters Music and Books Critic
When you first set this one spinning, you realize how good it is to
hear that most distinctive voice again. It's the unmistakable voice
of Squeeze in his first non-Squeeze effort, a funky solo stint sans
Chris Difford that certainly won't be his last, which is why he chose
to title it Incomplete. He has taken a good year to put this one together,
and the care shows -- it is an enjoyably solid musical effort that
gets better with repeated listenings.
What you get here is a CD that holds its own with any of the better
later Squeeze releases -- think Play or Ridiculous or Some Fantastic
Place. Okay, so you no longer get the easy early-'80s radio hits from
Tilbrook -- but he has grown as a person and as an artist. No longer
content to write easy compositions, Tilbrook now writes challenging
music with complex chord changes, unusual harmonies and unexpected
tempos. Always an accomplished lead guitarist, Tilbrook shows himself
to be even more fully in control of the instrument now, making those
Fender and Taylor guitars sing expressively right alongside those
angelic vocals (check out his work on the tracks "Observatory",
"I Won't See You" and "Morning").
Co-produced by ex-Robyn Hitchcock sideman and former Squeeze member
Andy Metcalfe, Tilbrook and Metcalfe take on the bulk of the instrumentation
here, covering guitars and keyboards and bass (although there are
two guest turns by Squeeze's last bassist Hilaire Penda). Drums/Percussion
are handled quite capably by either Simon Hanson or Jim Kimberley
on most tracks, though some feature mere drum programming. The sound
is full, the little touches and fills lovingly recorded, and it seems
as much a band recording as any Squeeze effort.
At age 43 (nearly 44), he's no spring chicken, a fact not lost on
Tilbrook as revealed in recent interviews as well as in the lyrics
he pens here. On the wry "Up the Creek" he tells an amusing
tale of being out dancing, singing along to everything from Chic to
Abba, knowing he's looking older than he feels, and then suddenly
he hears a familiar name from long ago. "I said what a surprise,
do say Hello / And it put a stop to my dreams / with me and her and
custard creams / Her friends were leaving, they say she should come
/ She said 'I'll remember you to my Mum'". This song contains
some musical winks to disco and the Swedish foursome as well.
The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook tells its own story, which is this:
The world has changed and so has Tilbrook. The song "G.S.O.H.
Essential" writes his own review, giving a sort of mini-history
of his music to date, from his early fascination with The Monkees
right up to his current effort here. In this song, Tilbrook reasons
with his listeners, "Considering the experience there's not much
to regret / Thought I've picked up a few knocks, the game's not over
yet / My heart is intact and here it is for you to see / And I won't
give up at least not yet / so don't give up on me".
The gist of it can be summed up when Tilbrook confesses he's "running
a small shop in the age of the global superstore". He knows the
score, that this little record isn't likely to find global acclaim.
Still, he has had such moments of fame in years past and continues
to move forward. As he continues to make fine music, he keeps it in
perspective, while never forgetting his years on the fast track with
Squeeze (note the reference to their first big hit): "I live
in the real world / What d'ya think I'm laughing for? / I'm ready
and waiting / You can take me now, I'm yours".
Two things come across in abundance here. First, Tilbrook's easy charm
is apparent -- here is a talent who never takes himself too seriously.
Witness his "Interviewing Randy Newman", a catchy musical
story about a radio interview of his fellow songwriter that goes poorly,
but gets fixed in the edit.
Secondly, you get his obvious love of Motown/Stax rhythms. Years ago,
I remember reading that Tilbrook and Difford were considering putting
out an album of disco tunes. While that project never materialized,
you can still hear Tilbrook's tendencies toward that musical style
all these years later. "Tempted" could have been a Motown
hit, as could the later "Loving You Tonight", both songs
benefiting from the soulful vocals of Paul Carrack. Many of the songs
in this collection offer up the same Motown/Stax funk bass lines and
percussion as interpreted through the filter of a white South Londoner.
So what about his songwriting? Without the caustic wry lyrics of a
Difford, does the solo Glenn T. just flail? The answer is no -- though
Tilbrook relates that the solo writing was tough at first. Standard
Squeeze procedure involved working from a set lyric that Difford provided.
Rather than remaining stuck for a decent lyric, Tilbrook brought in
Aimee Mann ("Observatory"), Ron Sexsmith ("You See
Me"), Chris Braide and Kim Stockwood to help out. Once these
collaborations were underway, he began to find his own lyrical muse.
In the end, six of the 12 tunes are solo compositions, perhaps a bit
less acidic lyrically than what Difford offers, but good songs about
love lost and general reflection all the same. On the whole, this
is a far better record than Squeeze's last release, the disappointing
The Aimee Mann collaboration, "Observatory" sounds like
it could fit right in on Sweets from a Stranger, as could the next
track and UK-single "Parallel World". The only non-Tilbrook
composition here, the Ben Jones song "Other World", is a
lovely ballad that sounds like it could be right at home on Some Fantastic
Place. "We Went Thataway" plays with harmonies in a funk/pop
way that makes this listener think of David Yazbek's music. Overall,
I think pop fans in general and Squeeze fans in particular will find
this mature solo effort from "that voice" to be a happy
Squeeze fans would hope for from Tilbrook's solo debut, proving
that he can do it without Chris Difford.
to know how to write a 'story song'? Imagine the novel then sum
up the first 50 pages in two lines: "She was married to somebody
else/I was lonely and lived by myself" (Observatory, a co-write
with Aimee Mann). Despite his predilection for sweet tunes and,
post Squeeze, for bubblesome white funk, Tilbrook's lyrical world
is always characterised by scruffy reality. "The dishes pile
up in the sink" he notes on Parallel World and his protagonists
know that eventually, someone will have to do the hoovering. Plenty
of sad, stranded romance, but Tilbrook adds charm and chuckles with
more personal yarns including Up The Creek, wherein the middle-aged
likely lad, chunky yet funky, goes down the disco and thinks he's
scored, only to be kissed off with: "I'll remember you to my
a quarter of a century in the music business, The Incomplete Glenn
Tilbrook is astonishingly the first solo LP from the prolific Squeeze
man. It finds him co-writing with the likes of Aimee Mann and Ron
Sexsmith, but 'We Went Thataway' is a solo composition, with a typically
clever lyric, a pleasingly McCartneyesque vocal and an unexpectedly
funky New Orleans-style workout at the end. The Incomplete Glenn
Tilbrook is released next month on Quixotic.
Magazine - 21 May 2001
The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook
one half of the writing team in Squeeze, the only band who could
write songs like Up The Junction and Cool For Cats
while also keeping Jools Holland quiet in the background, Glenn
Tilbrook has already proved himself to be a man of rare talent.
shows no sign of letting slip some two decades on with this, his
first solo album.
there have been many great artists who have found themselves slipping
down the slippery slopes of pop only a few years into their career,
Tilbrook has always been able to supply the sweetest of musical
sensations. In fact most of the songs on here are of the type to
stop Paul McCartney writing poetry and releasing books of his paintings
of this comes down - at least on here - to him teaming up with some
other great pop song writers - Aimee Mann for the cut and thrust
of Observatory and Ron Sexsmith for the elegant swoonsome, You See
plenty of topnotch efforts where the man flies truly solo such as
We Went Thataway, One Dark Moment, G.S.O.H. Essential and Interviewing
Randy, which allow him plenty of room to move in a field which showcases
his wry understated observations,
layers and layers of meticulous harmony and topnotch playing from
a bunch of musos who play tighter than an earwig's arse.
Glauber: The Glenn Tilbrook Interview: November, 2001
Recently, I was fortunate to talk with Glenn Tilbrook,
singer, guitarist, and half of the extraordinary songwriting team
behind Squeeze. Tilbrook took some time out from his current acoustic
tour promoting his first solo CD The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook on
Quixotic Records (www.glenntilbrook.com) to answer some questions.
Hes taken the better part of a year to craft this new CD, and
the care shows. Writing lyrics for the first time, and also finding
new collaborators, Tilbrook continues to grow as a musician.
One of the songs on the new CD Interviewing Randy Newman,
relates the true-life tale of when Glenn conducted a radio interview
with Randy Newman, and how things did not go all that smoothly. I
explained that my interviewing him might be much the same type of
deal, but again, everything can be fixed in the edit.
Surprisingly, Tilbrook was relaxed, honest and a delight to interview.
There is no pretense to him whatsoever and he is willing to take on
any and all questions. Knowing he was a big fan of both the fab four
and the fabricated four, I jumped right into the thick of my interrogation.
GG: So who is your Favorite Beatle and why?
GT: Paul McCartney, because most people pick John and no one seems
to single out Paul. He did quite a bit there and deserves the credit.
GG: Fair enough. Who is your favorite Monkee and why?
GT: Micky Dolenz, because he was funny and he looked like he really
could play the drums. Also, I really like that song he wrote, whats
it called Randy Scouse Git?
GG: While four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor?
GT: Yeah, thats the one.
GG: Youve had a number of hits over the years and I suppose
you still have to play many of them, even now. Are there any songs
you hate to play?
GT: Its simple. If I hate a song, I dont play it. But
if youre asking me if Im duty bound to play certain songs,
then Id have to say itd be foolish not to give people
what they want. Luckily, I like most of the songs in my history.
GG: Can you estimate the approximate amount of times youve played
some of the more popular songs, say a Pulling Mussels from A
Shell or If I Didnt Love You?
GT: I really dont know, couldnt even put an accurate number
on that. In the thousands, Id imagine, sure.
GG: Lets talk songwriting. I know that for your solo album youve
written songs with others and also alone. How do you go about writing
the songs - music first, lyrics first, or does it matter?
GT: In all honesty, it varies. Coming out of working with Chris (Difford),
it always was a case where I wrote the music and he did the lyrics.
That was just the way we worked. So lyrics are a whole new world for
me. I often try to write the lyrics first and work from that, but
Ive found that sometimes its best to work through both
at the same time. On the new CD, Ron Sexsmith & Aimee Mann did
lyrics on those collaborations. But with Chris Braide it was a mix
of music and lyrics; same really with Kim Stockwood. Its been
a fun challenge.
GG: How many songs would you say you have written in your life, including
GT: Id say the number runs into probably 2,000 or so. See, when
Chris and I met we really did nothing but write songs. We had nothing
else to do, no real gainful employment and really nothing else of
interest to us. Songwriting was what we did.
GG: To my thinking, you were and always shall be the readily recognized
distinctive voice of Squeeze. Yet, with the song Tempted,
Paul Carrack sang lead vocals. Was it difficult to have a hit with
someone else singing lead vocals?
GT: First off, having a hit never is difficult. And Paul just has
a really fantastic voice. We originally had recorded a version of
this with me singing it (which is on the compilation Excess Moderation)
and it was sort of a sub-ELO arrangement, good for laugh value now,
and not much more. Pauls version was so much better - I really
learned that sometimes a producer can bring more to a song than you
thought was there (Interviewers note: Elvis Costello produced
that more Motown-version of Tempted.).
GG: Having attended many a Squeeze concert back in the day, I always
was impressed with your lead guitar skills, particularly since not
many lead singers can handle both at the same time. I know youve
contributed to many other artists records - Aimee Manns
Im With Stupid > and Kimberley Rews Tunnel Into Summer,
just to name a few. Ideally, if you could have your choice to work
with any artist, who would it be?
GT: I do like playing on other artists albums, which Ive
done a lot. I suppose the most recent work Ive done for someone
else would be on Nick Harpers CD. And I guess the artist Id
most like to work with is Willie Nelson, actually. I love his emotive
voice. But thats the way I am. Im not terribly into strictly
technical singers. For me, I need the emotion and the believability.
I suppose its just a continuation of the kind of music I like
to listen to myself.
GG: And what sort of music might that be? Any new and upcoming bands
we should know about?
GT: My current favorite is a group called The Avalanches, who use
a lot of sampling and also play along as well. They remind me a little
bit of Faces, back in the early days. I saw them live and there were
what looked like these two deejay guys up on stage, just doing this
incredibly good modern pop music. I also liked the danger factor -
the feeling that at any second it could all fall apart.
GG: Okay, I shall have to track them down and check it out for myself.
So thats your new music recommendation - what about the classics?
Whats your most favorite older album?
GT: I know its sort of a musicians cliché, but
I really have to say that Pet Sounds is to me the perfect album. Its
GG: Its not unusual for me to come across press releases and
music reviews that describe a sound as very Squeeze-like.
Your sounds are oft imitated, particularly what was the very unique
octave-apart style of shared vocals between yourself and Chris. Just
curious, how did that style develop?
GT: It was just one of those stupid things, we sang and it sort of
came out that way. There wasnt really any grand plan to it.
In so far as the way we are cited and imitated, I do hear some of
it and I think its a bit of a compliment, a tip o the
hat. Its nice that way.
GG: Recently, you spent an afternoon and evening busking in New York
Citys Grand Central Station, just you and an acoustic guitar,
playing requests while trying to raise charity funds for the families
of those lost in the Trade Tower incident. At one point you asked
the crowd if theyd join you in singing and trying to raise peoples
spirits in this time of tragedy. Like a Pied Piper, you unplugged
and led a crowd of about 50 people on a walk throughout the train
station while singing Goodbye Girl along with you. It
was tremendously fun. What are your impressions of how these recent
tragic events have affected people and music in general?
GT: Well obviously, the people in NYC still are a bit shell-shocked,
quite understandably. Aside from the tragedy itself, Id have
to say the worst part of it all is the fear. People have this real
fear now as a result of what has happened. But I do think that, over
time, people can rebound and return to getting on with their lives.
GG: You were in town as part of the UK in NYC festival.
It was a great experience catching you live. All these commuters were
standing around, surprised - dialing their cell phones and holding
them out above their heads to let their loved ones in on your impromptu
GT: So you were there?
GG: Yes. You didnt hear me singing harmonies?
GT: Did you go the next day when I was cooking?
GG: No, sorry, I missed that.
GT: I cooked up my specialty Welsh Rarebit. Wonderful
GG: Cheese on toast?
GT: No - its much more than that. Its grated cheese, for
one thing, with this mustard-based sauce on bread with an egg and
covered with the right mix of salt and pepper, then grilled right
up. Bet youre sorry you missed it now.
GG: I am. Truly. That same busking day, I noticed you did a number
of covers (Hendrixs Voodoo Child, Chuck Berrys
Sea Cruise - as well as some Elvis). When someone walking
by asked Is that really Paul McCartney you proceeded to
launch into a great cover of All My Loving. Would you
ever consider doing a CD of covers?
GT: Yeah, Id quite like to do that someday. Unfortunately, Im
too wrapped up in my own projects to get around to that right now.
GG: Okay, heres something different. Give me three adjectives
to describe yourself.
GT: Caring, Sharing and Lovely. (He laughs.)
Even with your very distinctive voice, some say that you and Neil
Finn have much the same sound. What is your take on that?
GT: Oh, weve met, actually. I think hes more of a singer
than I am, really. He has a really lovely voice. And there was that
one song on Woodface that was quite a musical tribute to Squeeze.
GG: Speaking of Squeeze, I know the later Squeeze albums had all
sorts of distribution problems. In fact, I had to go to London to
purchase a copy of Domino, which hadnt been released yet here
in the states.
GT: That seems a bit extreme.
GG: Okay, well I was with my family in London - its not like
I made the trip entirely for that purchase. But while I was there,
I did manage to hunt it down. I know that labels were a big problem
with those past few Squeeze records. I also note that your new CD
The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook is out on Quixotic, your own label.
Are all record companies horrible?
I wouldnt say that. I think major labels can do a good job
providing that all goes right. But it rarely works that way. With
Squeeze, we were dropped from a label shortly after our most successful
record. For a time, we were on a different label with each new album.
Which was very discouraging, particularly as two of my favorite
albums were among these: Play and Some Fantastic Place. For Play
we even did a lot of recording out in LA, to be closer to the Warner
GG: Right, I remember a lot of actor/celebrity types contributed
to that CD. Christopher Guest was one of them, right?
GT: Yeah, didnt realize that we were the inspiration for Spinal
Tap, did you? But what kept happening was that we were getting dropped.
Major labels realize theres no point in spending for big production
budgets with small sales. That never really worked, even at the
height of Squeezes popularity. So at age 44, Im really
more interested in selling records and getting my music out to people.
GG: Are there any favorite producers youd like to work with?
GT: I know the best producers are able to bring something out of
you that you didnt know you had. However, for the moment,
Im content to produce myself.
GG: How many guitars do you currently own - and which are your favorites?
GT: I own 19 guitars and my favorites are the two Ive taken
on the road with me, both of them Taylors, one six- and one twelve-string.
My favorite electric guitar is a 1967 Jet Black Telecaster with
a V-Bender. I love that kind of retro sound I can get with that.
Im not precious with my guitars, mind you. I dont go
crazy if other people pick them up and play them. But I do love
GG: What sort of formal music training did you have, and is guitar
your only instrument?
GT: I started playing piano and guitar at 7. I didnt really
want to sound too good too fast, and it was a nice way to learn,
gradually. With piano, I only got so far and then stopped at about
age 14. Still, the piano knowledge helped me a lot with songwriting.
GG: Thank you so much for this interview. I wish you the best of
luck with the acoustic tour (currently underway) and with sales
of the fine new CD.
GT: Thank you and cheers.
NOTE: For those of you wishing they could have been there, Ive
included a recipe for Welsh Rarebit
2 to 4 slices of bread
11û2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons of milk or beer
30 grams / 1 oz of butter
1 teaspoon of mustard
Pepper & Salt
1 Egg, beaten
Toast the slices of bread and grate 11û2 cups of cheese. Arrange
the cooked toast on a baking tray ready for grilling and spread
with butter. Slowly melt the cheese and milk in a small saucepan.
Then add the mustard and pepper. Stir continuously. Combine the
egg mixture with the hot mixture and continue cooking until the
mixture thickens. When smooth and hot pour over each piece of toast
and grill until golden brown.
cover of Glenn Tilbrook's first-ever solo album features a vintage
illustration of a man who's trying to fly using strap-on wings and
a seemingly endless supply of optimism. He's like Wile E. Coyote
from the Roadrunner cartoons hovering over the mouth of a canyon;
as long as he doesn't look down, you feel like he just might make
the man who since 1974 has made up one-half of the songwriting team
responsible for the gem-encrusted treasure trove that is the Squeeze
songbook -- a melodic cache of such should-have-been-hits as Another
Nail In My Heart, Up The Junction and Pulling Mussels (From the
Shell) -- the implications are obvious.
is the 'flying solo' thing, yeah," says Tilbrook in a pronounced
south London dialect that is half Michael Caine and half Artful
Dodger. "There is that."
this August evening, Tilbrook is hunched over a heat-wave-inspired
bottle of water in a dive bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Being
a dive bar, it is without air conditioning, and throughout the interview,
Tilbrook dabs at his sweat-drenched brow with a napkin. Outside
it's 37C; inside, it's gotta be way more than that.
like the funny implications of it," Tilbrook continues, smiling
down at his CD, a copy of which lies in front of him on the bar.
"Everyone knows what must have happened to this guy. I love
that he's up there, he's optimistic, and he's going for it. I'm
not saying I'll have the same fate as this poor chap. Nonetheless,
I entertain that that's a possibility, and I laugh in the face of
new album, called The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook ("because it's
the first of many," he explains) will be released on Tuesday.
It's a generous collection, carried aloft by Tilbrook's creamy pop
voice and his self-deprecating, London-town wit. And although it's
without his main Squeeze, lyricist Chris Difford, Tilbrook has recruited
some able backup in that department: Aimee Mann and Ron Sexsmith
contribute lyrics to one song each. And for the first time, Tilbrook
himself has actually written lyrics on six tracks.
hadn't written lyrics since I was about 15," he admits. "Nor
have I had any real desire to. I tried about three times, and was
very discouraged by what I'd done. There was the overwhelming thing
of, 'Why do that? I'm perfectly happy writing tunes, and Chris's
lyrics are great, so there's no problem.' "
for the current Squeeze hiatus (no one's using the word "breakup"
yet), Tilbrook says, "the decision was sort of made for me.
Chris didn't want to tour. He felt it was the end of that road,
and that I understand. Squeeze's career path wasn't going in the
right direction. We hadn't really sold albums for a long time. In
purely business terms, business was not good."
There was a time, however, in the early '80s when Squeeze was poised
to invade North America, British style. Rolling Stone magazine was
touting Difford, whose eye for kitchen-sink dramatic detail rivaled
Elvis Costello's, and Tilbrook, whose ear for soaring melodies rivalled,
well, Elvis Costello's, as the new Lennon and McCartney. Their superb
(Costello-produced) 1981 release East Side Story was attracting
well-deserved critical kudos, and it even managed to turn a hit
single, the band's first in America, the low-key blue-eyed soul
had about five years where Squeeze slotted into a radio format that
allowed us," says Tilbrook, "and then from 1989 [the year
the band was dropped from A&M, their original label], we were
forever in search of whatever format it would be that would have
the fact that Squeeze continued to release albums throughout the
'90s -- 1993's Play ranks among their best -- this colourful, catchy
band is mostly remembered as an '80s band. This is in part because
Tempted has fared surprisingly well over time, having become a favourite
benchmark for '80s nostalgia buffs. It's also because Singles --
45's and Under, the band's frothy and representative 1983 best-of
compilation, went platinum in the United States.
for the fallow '90s, what Tilbrook calls "second-period Squeeze,"
he says, "I can sum it up by pointing out that we were signed
and were dropped four times with four albums. And that whole experience
said to me very loudly and very clearly, 'You don't want to do it
this way any more.' "
around 1993, Tilbrook built his own studio to help minimize recording
costs. The studio led to his eventual decision to start his own
label, the aptly named Quixotic Records. And although the current
radio environment isn't exactly clamouring for the melodic, Beatlesque
pop music (unless, of course you're a Beatle) that is Tilbrook's
stock in trade, he is cautiously optimistic.
grateful for the opportunities that time [at the major labels] has
given me," he says, "but I now want to leave that behind.
I want to actually carry on making records and to be able to sustain
myself under a much, much smaller umbrella. If that means I'm playing
small clubs, then that's what it means. I don't feel bad about that.
I enjoy playing."
hours later, around the corner from a certain a/c-deprived dive
bar, Glen Tilbrook leads an ecstatic Mercury Lounge crowd on a two-hour
bender through the best of his new album and the best of his former
band (there, it's said).
the 43-year-old Tilbrook, whose old mate Difford is probably back
in England sleeping soundly, just being in this small Manhattan
club and playing these songs, old and new, must feel a little like
tilting at windmills, flying with strap-on wings.
as this snake oil salesman rips through one last chorus of Pulling
Mussels ("and I feel like William Tell...") none of that
seems to matter. This small but mighty crowd of local villagers
has gathered around his cart to hear his pitch, and they seem to
be buying what he's selling. Hell, they're even singing along.
City Times - 25 July 2001
In complete agreement: an Interview with Glenn Tilbrook
Glenn Tilbrook performs @ Park West on July 28.
by Gregg Shapiro
You might remember hearing Glenn Tilbrook's easily
recognizable singing voice during the years he was in the British
band Squeeze. He co-wrote and sang the songs "Pulling Mussels
(From The Shell)" and "Black Coffee In Bed," as well
as many, many others.
his long-awaited solo disc, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook (W.A.R./Quixotic
London), Mr. Tilbrook performs songs he co-wrote with Aimee Mann
("Observatory") and Ron Sexsmith ("You See Me"),
as well as several originals, including the retro pop "This
Is Where You Ain't," "Morning" (co-written with Chris
Braide), the music industry commentary of "G.S.O.H. Essential,"
the dance-friendly "Up The Creek," and the wacky, but
accessible "Interviewing Randy Newman."
if you aren't familiar with Squeeze, Tilbrook's solo effort stands
out as one of the great singer/ songwriter albums of the year, and
holds of the promise of many more fine albums to come.
Shapiro: The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook is being released on
Quixotic London Records, your own label. Can you please say something
about having your own record label?
Glenn Tilbrook: It's something that I've done over here in
Britain for the last five years that we've had the label. It is,
for me, a way of releasing not only my own music. (Presently) we
have only one other person making records for us and that is Nick
Harper. It's music that I believe in, firstly. Secondly, it's also
wonderful to have the chance to determine the whole package, the
whole thing about the record, from day one to when it comes out.
I very much like that.
GS: I'm glad that you mentioned releasing your own album.
Why did you wait so long to release a solo disc?
GT: Because I was perfectly happy with Squeeze, actually.
I never felt the urge to leave Squeeze. Squeeze was built around
the songwriting partnership that I had with Chris Difford. When
Chris reached a point, three years ago, when he felt that he could
no longer tour, I toured with Squeeze as a four-piece without Chris.
He pulled out of the tour the day before we were due to go. We decided
to do the tour anyway and, in fact, we had a great tour. I felt
that was really the end of Squeeze. I felt, also, that it was an
opportunity for me to record a solo album, which I am very happy
The title of the album, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, is a little
on the ironic side, would you agree?
(Laughs) It was the first title that I felt summed up the record.
The title works on many levels, for me, not the least of which is
that I see the record as the first in a series of many. It's a whole
So, we'll soon be hearing from the "complete Glennn Tilbrook,"
Great. "G.S.O.H. Essential" sounds like a comment from
you on the music industry...can you comment on that?
"G.S.O.H. Essential" is more of a comment on my own position
within the music industry. I've been very fortunate in that I've
been making records since I was 19. I've been involved in major-label
deals for years. I've gone through all sorts of periods of success
and nonsuccess throughout that time. The music industry is a constantly
changing place, and I certainly don't have the opinion that it was
better 20 years ago than it is now. It's constantly changing, as
it should do, and it's interesting for someone like me to try and
find where I fit in. I think the place I fit in, at the moment,
is by determining how I make my records and trying to determine
where they'll appear. I think that major labels work extremely well
for some people. I think they worked, with varying degrees of success
with Squeeze. It certainly enabled me to be where I am now, the
fact that I was on major labels for that amount of time. But, I
think that unless I was able to write my own contract, I wouldn't
like to be on a major label now. I'm happy with the situation being
where I am. I'm happy with that because I've thought, over many
years, about why I do what I do, what my motivation is, and what
I want from it...and all that is quite clear in my mind. I'd love
to sell millions of records. But the fact that I'm not selling millions
of records...at least Squeeze hasn't...doesn't deter me from loving
what I do, from loving touring and loving playing. I'm extremely
lucky to be able to do that. I'm a very small shop operating in
a global economy (laughs).
That's a great description of it. You worked with Aimee Mann, who
also had her own negative experiences with major labels, on her
I'm With Stupid album and you co-wrote the song "Observatory"
with her on your album. Can please say a few words about what it's
like working with Aimee?
Aimee is a very talented and very determined person. I admire her.
She's used her anger with the business to her own ends, I believe,
very successfully. I have nothing but praise for her personally
and professionally. I love the way she writes. We toured with her
in 1994. When I found myself writing (songs) for this record, it
was a very natural step to ask Aimee to work with me. I'm very pleased
with the song. I think it's a unique hybrid.
It's a wonderful song. "You See Me," also from The Incomplete
Glennn Tilbrook, was co-written with Ron Sexsmith.
Again, working with Ron Sexsmith on "You See Me," was
a lovely thing. We had toured together in the U.K., I think, about
five years ago. He's a fantastic bloke. He's got a wonderful way
with the audience. The interesting thing about working with Ron
and Aimee is that those two collaborations worked in the same why
that I worked with Chris Difford. Both Ron and Aimee provided lyrics
for me and I worked on them at home. They were not "same room"
collaborations. We exchanged e-mails, faxes and tapes (laughs).
We didn't sit together until they were done.
Is the story-song "Interviewing Randy Newman" based on
a real experience that you had?
Yes, it was entirely true (laughs). I did an hour-long show for
Radio Two about Newman and his career. I'm a big fan and felt very
confident about doing it. I can only describe what happened when
I interviewed him as a massive panic attack. I had no clue of any
nerves until 30 seconds before the interview. He was in L.A. and
I was in London, in the studio, sitting on the other side of the
glass from the producer. Because I'd felt so comfortable before,
I thought, "Okay, I won't write any questions. We'll just talk
for an hour." We can talk about his career and his writing.
Then I just started coming out with the most inane and stupid questions.
It was just awful. (Exaggerated voice) "I'm a big fan of yours.
So, how do you write?" All the questions I'd sworn I'd never
ask anyone, I was asking. It was just the most excruciating hour.
He, of course, was the model of politeness and charm. Really sweet
and very, very kind to me. But I blew it in a big way (laughs).
I think that the song redeems it.
It was a hard way to get a good song, but I guess that it's about
the only redeeming thing.
There are three bonus tracks on the domestic release. Why didn't
the song "Sunday Breakfast Treat" make it onto the original
Because at some point, we had to decide for the singles here, what
we thought were in excess of what we wanted for the record when
we were sequencing it for over here (the U.K.). I thought that "Sunday
Breakfast Treat" was a bit too flippant at the time we decided
that it wasn't going on the record, although I like it a lot more
now than I did at the time. There's another song that we left off,
another collaboration with Ron Sexsmith that I really wish that
I'd put on the disc.
Do you think it might show up as the B-side of a single?
Yes. That's why we had to make those choices, because I've had a
couple of singles out here and we had to decide what was going on
the album. There was too much for the album and I wanted all the
best stuff to go on.
Some of the songs have a bit of an electronic feel to them. One
of the bonus tracks, the dance mix of "This Is Where You Ain't,"
which you call the "now that's what I call now mate version,"
could potentially go over well in the gay dance clubs. Can you please
say something about why you included a dance-club type of remix?
Because I love that sort of music. You don't hear a lot of that
in what I do, because that's just not what comes out. But what I
really love, and what I'm really open to, is the whole concept of
remix. That's exactly what that is. It's taking the song, as thought
of and recorded, then we thought, "What happens if you take
away all that stuff?" There's that one slide guitar bit and
breakdown section in the original version that actually became the
motif for the whole song in the remixed version. I think it works
fantastically. I had a very hard time deciding which version to
make the album version and the single over here. I am very proud
of the remixed version.
It's the kind of thing that could expose you to a different audience.
Yeah, it could do that. I don't know if people will really take
that from me. All I can is that I can only do that sort of thing
if I'm fully enthused. It seems to me that the purest forms of dance
music are moving away from song construction and I'm not about to
give up on that because that's where my inspiration comes from.
The thought behind a lot of dance music...the production, the sound...is
a completely different approach to making records and it's something
that fills me with enthusiasm.
Wonderful. Earlier in the interview you were talking about touring,
and now you are about to come to the States on what is essentially
your first solo tour.
I can't wait. I'm really looking forward to it. I love communication
with people, and I've gotten good at that. I've been doing solo
shows, as well as stuff with Squeeze, for ten years. In that time
I've come to relish the difference between playing with a band and
playing by myself.
In some cities you are sharing the bill with Warren Zevon and with
Marshall Crenshaw in others. Is there any chance that you will join
each other on stage for some songs or will they be two solo sets?
(Laughs) I don't know. All I can say is that anything is possible.
... I like spontaneous things.
Francisco Arts Magazine
Tilbrook , The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook
and Live Performance at Slim's, July 24, 2001
review and interview by J. Brendan Williams
What could be further from the witty pop songs of
Glenn Tilbrook, former principal of Squeeze, than the proto heavy
metal of Deep Purple? I ask the question not simply because Glenn
Tilbrook has just released a brilliant debut solo CD entitled The
Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook on Quixotic London records, while embarking
on a one man acoustic tour which graced the stage of Slim's on July
24th, but to illustrate an oft overlooked fact of life in the rock
'n' roll cosmos. Strange connections exist between socio-musical
styles and personalities, and no bands are quite as far apart as
they may seem.
Consider this: Glenn Tilbrook formed Squeeze with Chris Difford
in the mid-1970's and took the band's name from the last Velvet
Underground album. No original members of the V.U. played on that
record. Doug Yule, who had replaced John Cale on bass, assembled
a new Velvet Underground that featured former Deep Purple Drummer
Ian Paice. The erstwhile John Cale subsequently produced Squeeze's
early demos. And today Glenn Tilbrook pals around with Deep Purple
bassist Roger Glover and the oft imitated, never duplicated, Robert
Plant. Weird huh? Weirder still, Slim's print advertisement for
performances from Wednesday, July 18 - Saturday, August 4, 2001
featured a wide range of acts but only two of them commanded the
top ticket price of $20: Glenn Tilbrook and . . . Slash's Snakepit!
Strange connections indeed.
should admit that it took me a while to enjoy Tilbrook's old band
when I first heard them back in high school, and I figured it might
take me a few listens to come around to a reasonable appreciation
of his new solo album. I remember thinking those twentyish years
ago that Squeeze was okay, had catchy melodic hooks and nice suits.
But that N word made me uncomfortable: Nice.
Those clever chord changes utterly lacked aggression, the band made
no pretense toward testosterone infused posturing. So I wrote them
off, decided to forget about Squeeze, concentrated on the punk thing
. . . until I met that girl. You know her, boys. The one who sat
on the lip of the stage at the hardcore shows and rocked with the
guys but always remained somehow above the scene, mystically feminine,
alluring, magical. And when I picked her up at her parents
house, Singles, 45s and Under gently wafted from her bedroom
window. From that vantage point, Squeeze finally made sense. Squeeze
was part of that British Pop tradition that included the Beatles,
Kinks, and Cliff Richard, and led to The Jam and Elvis Costello.
And whats wrong with that, especially when the rocker-chix
still dig it? Its part of that greater yin-yang of rock-roll
that enabled Elvis to sing Teddy Bear and Hound Dog in the same
set (praises, brethren, amen).
songwriting team of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook really was
threatening in a sublime and disarming way. And likewise, Tilbrooks
latest efforts continue along the same path. Earnest, happy, toe-tapping
sounds leavened with wistful and poignant lyrics, a healthy dash
of self-mockery, and a devil-may-care attitude.
The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook is less an attempt to revive former
glory than it is a bold statement of identity and purpose. Tilbrook
may be crazy for going out on his own at the age of forty-three,
but music really is his life, and he is still able to earn a decent
living at it. At Slim's he acknowledged that most blokes put out
a solo record after two or three albums, rather than thirteen with
their former bandmates.
why go solo now? The title of the new album suggests a melancholic
separation from his longtime songwriting partner, but also speaks
optimistically of many more good songs yet to be released. "It's
quite a fact that I really miss Chris," says Tilbrook, but
Difford's reluctance to tour in support of Squeeze's 1998 album
Domino contributed to Glenn's decision to go it alone. Despite modest
self-doubt, the man is confident of his musical talent and figured
"What the hell?"
cover art sums up his attitude. A colored pencil and watercolor
image of an early twentieth century scene set in the English countryside
depicts a brave and loony man with wood and linen wings strapped
to his back, soaring over a crowd of onlookers. It just might work!
So too does this logic propel Tilbrook's D-I-Y record label, appropriately
named Quixotic London. Inside The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook's jewel
case, black and white photos show Glenn hanging out in the damp,
cold alley behind his recording studio, wearing a schoolboys
grin, and a twinkly gaze, a couple stones extra weight, and
just wispier hair than we might remember: a cross between the guy
in the Black Coffee in Bed video and Bob Mould. Glenns doing
alright, still kicking, still singing in that pure tenor, charming
the young girls and the guys who date them.
example of this would be Up the Creek, a tune nestled midway through
the new album. He sings about awkwardly dancing to ABBA with lasses
who were not yet born when the Swedish schlock first oozed from
the airwaves. In person, Glenn confessed that he had been out drinking
with his buddies when they all stumbled into the after hours dance
club that inspired the song. Here he was, twenty years after singing
Up the Junction, a sad nursery rhyme about young lovers who wind
up impoverished young parents and break up in desperation and misery.
But in Up the Creek we infer that the infant of that earlier Squeeze
song has at last grown up and gone off like her mother, leaving
dad to happily chase skirts once more. Growing older brings redemption
at times like this.
highlight from the disc is Interviewing Randy Newman, a song resplendent
in electronic bloops and bleeps that would make Britney Spears blush.
He sings about walking into an internet cafe to prepare for an upcoming
BBC Radio interview with his songwriting hero. It is a tune as much
about technology as it is a true account of a subsequently botched
interview made good through the wonders of non-linear editing. Interestingly,
Tilbrook says that for him Randy Newman is reminiscent of some of
Squeeze's earlier material, like Goodbye Girl and Take Me I'm Yours,
in the sense that these tunes were conceived in a fun-loving spirit
of blind experimentation, rather than tried and true formula.
a similar vein, the CDs first track This is Where You Aint
(a deceptively upbeat song outfitted with strings, glockenspiel,
and a stinging Hammond B-3 break played by Robyn Hitchcock and the
Egyptians alumnus Andy Metcalfe) reappears at the end, remixed with
a techno rhythm track for the belly chain kids. The parenthetical
title of the remixed version, (now thats what I call
now mate version), shows Tilbrooks pluck.
is very upbeat about the digital revolution. He notes that new technology
has enabled him to operate his personal recording studio, establish
Quixotic London, co-write songs with partners on opposite sides
of the planet, and free himself to tour widely. Observatory is a
good example of such global collaboration. Aimee Mann was in Los
Angeles when she worked on this tune with the London dwelling Tilbrook.
The song describes a lonely single guy who takes up with a married
woman, against his better judgment. Its theme segues effortlessly
from the lovelorn This is Where You Ain't.
new songs are not all fun and games. One Dark Moment is a pleading,
driving number that also appears twice: once early on with full
band accompaniment, and again toward the end as a solitary rendition
for voice and acoustic guitar. At times the horn sectioned full
band version sounds like the complaint of a frustrated aging performer
ready to throw in the towel and opt out for a straight 9-to-5er.
Yet the starkness of the acoustic performance, and the weary rasp
in the singers voice reveals a raw emotional gravity. At Slim's,
Tilbrook remained reticent about this painful, and obviously personal
song, saying only that it was written about a friend who took his
own life. Names need not be mentioned. Motives seem irrelevant.
Suicide is still suicide.
also plenty of guitar pop on the new record. We Went Thataway has
a spunky back beat groove, strangely reminiscent of Robert Crays
homage to the Stax/Volt sound, Take Your Shoes Off. Very danceable,
as is the tentative but cheery G.S.O.H. Essential, whose title references
the personals ads and features the telling line "I'm running
a small shop in the age of the global superstore." The song
embodies a coming to terms with a world much larger and unwieldy
than the singer.
THE LIVE SHOW:
After a brief appearance for a duet with opening performer Syd Straw,
Glenn Tilbrook returned to the stage in earnest. His solo acoustic
tour now frames him as a modern English Troubadour. Strange coincidence
that both performers had just come up from a performance at Doug
Weston's Troubadour in West Hollywood the previous evening, amid
the grassroots hoopla of L.A's annual International Pop Overthrow
Festival. Clad in a red tee shirt and drab army pants, the singer
presented himself and his two worn guitars, six and twelve-string
respectively, without pretense. He had come a long way from his
days as the nattily dressed new waver we remember from those distant
1980's, but this absence of flash worked strongly in his favor,
focusing all attention on his songcraft and fluent fretwork. And
that clear, note-perfect tenor of his has not suffered through the
ages. No studio gimmickry needed, the gentleman can sing with power
was surprised to learn that much of Tilbrook's repertoire sprung
from his imagination fully arranged. That is, worked out on piano
and guitar with the intent of performing the material with a full
band. Only after the songs had been completely written did he go
back and hone the tunes for a solo acoustic performance.
broad survey of Squeeze songs plus samplings from The Incomplete
Glenn Tilbrook comprised the majority of the live set, with much
audience participation. On more than one occasion, Tilbrook left
the stage and wandered among the tables, strumming and crooning
without the benefit of a microphone, much to everyone's delight.
Somewhat less successful was his tribute to Willie Nelson with a
cover of Always on my Mind. Although Glenn went out of his way to
distance himself from The Pet Shop Boys' maudlin synth version before
launching into the tune, audience response was tepid. Undaunted,
Tilbrook responded with his most amazing feat of the evening, a
twelve-stringed, Reverend Gary Davis inspired rendition of Drinkin'
Wine Spo-dee-o-dee , whose old-timey boogie-woogie cadences brought
the crowd back to life and sent the schoolchildren in attendance
into paroxysms, much to their parents amusement. Smiles all around.
By the final encore of Pulling Mussels from a Shell, the crowd of
grown-ups had risen to their feet in wild enthusiasm, proud to be
part of what Tilbrook referred to fondly as his niche audience.
though his star may not burn as brightly as some other points of
light, Glenn Tilbrook and his audience are very much a part of that
larger musical constellation: that grand design which reflects and
refracts from Reverend Gary Davis to Reverend Horton Heat to Canned
Heat to Can. Its all good. The more you listen, the more you
see. Buy The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook, see the pub tour, and join
Post - December 26, 2001
2001: Missing The Snap, Crackle In Pop
You Had to Listen Intently For Rock, Rap & Soul's Best
By David Segal
It wasn't exactly the creative boomlet of '68. Finding
the best of rock, rap and soul took some rummaging. But it was out
there, on lesser-known labels, hiding in the back bins, ignored for
the most part by radio. Guitar rock -- especially indie guitar rock
-- had an extraordinary year. So did a couple of R&B artists and
a handful of mostly unheralded rappers. Here's some of the best, and
worst, of the year.... (click on link above for full article)
Glenn Tilbrook at Iota, Aug. 3
For an encore, the former Squeeze vocalist and songwriter led the
crowd of 100 out the door and into Iota's parking lot, where he
serenaded everyone under the moonlight with unplugged versions of
"Goodbye Girl" and "Pulling Mussels From a Shell."
He briefly made Wilson Boulevard feel like the center of the universe.
- East Yorkshire - 9 December 2001.
Review by Gareth Watkins
The "Completely Acoustic Glenn Tilbrook,"
or "Glenn Tilbrook Experience" as I shall call it, touched
down in Beverley, East Yorkshire, to a packed house full of fans young
and old, all no doubt anxious to find out if the co-founder of Squeeze
could still pack a punch.
Tilbrook formed a powerful writing duo with Chris Difford that was
the backbone of Squeeze's thirteen-album journey through the late
70s, 80s and 90s. This year saw the release of his debut solo album
'The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook' and a string of tour dates on both
sides of the Atlantic. Tonight he made the journey to this quiet corner
of East Yorkshire to share with us his impressive arsenal of musical
gems both new and old.
appointed hour arrived, the house was packed out, but there was
no sign of our host. Thick fog had delayed his arrival but "thirty
minutes later" he was on stage armed with his two favourite
guitars, one six-string and one twelve, launching his first salvo
across our bow: 'The Truth,' from Squeeze's 1991 album Play, followed
swiftly by 'Vanity Fair'. A strong couplet to get us off to a flyer,
Tilbrook did well to be on stage not five minutes after arriving
at the venue. He told me later that he usually likes to have an
hour or so to relax before a gig, so it was weird having to rush
ninety minute set included songs spanning the length of his career,
from seminal Squeeze classics like 'Piccadilly,' 'Take Me I'm Yours'
and 'Up The Junction' through to tracks off his new solo album.
Among his new songs are collaborations with other strong writers
and the audience lapped up the likes of 'Observatory' written with
Aimee Mann, 'Parallel World,' a personal highlight for this reviewer,
written with Chris Braid (recently writing for S-Club 7) and 'You
See Me,' which Tilbrook wrote with Canadian tunemeister Ron Sexsmith.
There was even room in this busy repertoire for covers of 'Voodoo
Chile' and 'Always on My Mind'. He finished the night with the well-loved
'Goodbye Girl' (a song he recently led a crowd round New York's
Grand Central Station singing to raise money for the families of
victims of the September 11th tragedy) and an encore featuring 'Annie
Get Your Gun' and 'Hourglass' - complete with audience participation!
took opportunity to pay tribute to his long-time writing partner
Chris Difford and the late George Harrison. He also frequently had
the audience laughing with him as he shared stories and thoughts.
The small venue, acoustic and often spontaneous nature of the night
made the whole experience feel quite personal and if you can catch
him on the rest of this tour, you will not go away disappointed.
His professionalism (not put off by a broken string midway through
Voodoo Chile), a real passion for music and a genuine, quite obvious,
love of performing, make the Glenn Tilbrook Experience one you won't
want to miss. ****
House of Blues Cambridge, Massachusetts -15 November
by Jason Damas
Somewhere in the annals of rock music is a graveyard
for bands that have had the misfortune to be compared to the Beatles.
That comparison is one of the most overused clichés in the
history of pop music, and has probably buried far more acts than it
has helped. For each act that's had a noted songwriting similarity
to Lennon and McCartney, there has inevitably been a pile of reasons
why they simply weren't as good.
Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the main songwriting duo of Squeeze
who for 25 years and 13 albums churned out distinctly well-written,
British, and - surprise-- Beatles-esque pop music-weathered this storm
better than most. It's true that good reviews and a rabid fan base
never translated into commercial success for Squeeze, especially in
the United States, but it's also true that their legacy is capable
of standing alone, making the Beatles comparison unnecessary.
And perhaps that's why a couple years after the end of the Difford/Tilbrook
partnership, Glenn Tilbrook -- Squeeze's main lead vocalist -- is
a notable concert draw in his own right. According to Tilbrook, Squeeze's
demise was attributed primarily to a disagreement between Chris Difford
and Tilbrook about touring; Difford didn't want to, and Tilbrook did.
Tilbrook has said that he still loves touring, and judging by his
November 15 solo acoustic show at the House of Blues in Cambridge,
he means it.
the releasing his solo debut "The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook",
he has returned, fashioned with the dual images of a seasoned, accomplished
singer/songwriter and as a showman. Tilbrook was always a talented
songwriter, and few questioned his impressive (for a pop musician)
lead guitar abilities, but now he's putting on shows worth talking
about. And with a rigorous tour schedule (he noted after the show
that his plan is to return every three months), he's aggressively
trying to build a post-Squeeze name for himself.
time: A series of very unfortunate incidents caused me to miss the
beginning of Glenn Tilbrook's show. No fear, however, as Tilbrook
himself was also a tad tardy, preventing me from missing much of
the excitement. The House of Blues show began inauspiciously enough
(despite Tilbrook's tardiness), as he rattled through a mixture
of Squeeze originals, songs from his new album, and covers (Jimi
Hendrix's "Hey Joe" was one of them on this night). Because
he plays largely from audience requests and because these shows
are tailored for fans, a mid-period album track like "Tough
Love" is just as likely to be played as a hit like "Another
Nail For My Heart."
cozy nature of the House of Blues lent itself to a show with a high
level of audience participation. Tilbrook didn't just welcome requests
and sing-alongs, he invited the audience to play along any way they
could -- once passing a drum to an audience member to bang on through
"Another Nail for My Heart". When he launched into "Hourglass",
the cheery (if slightly goofball) hit from 1987 that was Squeeze's
highest U.S. singles chart entry, the audience tried their best
to imitate the bongo break in the middle of the song. He couldn't
resist, however, stopping in the middle of the song to critique
the audience, urging them to try it again when he cues them by "raising
[his] brows in the James Bond of the Roger Moore variety".
"Hourglass," Tilbrook informed the crowd that because
of time constraints he wouldn't have enough time to play everything
he wanted to. But because of this, he stated his intention to stage
the end of the show outside. The crowd was of course a bit puzzled
as he launched into his final pre-encore numbers, rousing versions
of classics "Another Nail For My Heart" and "Take
Me, I'm Yours".
hurrying back onstage for the encore, he served up a country-rock
reworking of "Annie Get Your Gun" before closing with
a stunning B-side called "By the Light of the Cash Machine,"
co-penned by Ron Sexsmith.
show was interspersed with as much witty banter as it was music,
but while such things may seem annoying and detract from certain
acts, Tilbrook manages to pull it off with ease. He's more than
just a songwriter now -- he's an entertainer, and a real crowd pleaser
too. And that leads into what happened next.
crowd filtered out onto Winthrop Street, excitably discussing Tilbrook's
plan to come out and play in a few minutes. During the fifteen minute
wait, excited audience members could be seen calling friends --urging
them to hurry to Harvard Square right away, because that guy from
Squeeze was going to play for free. Another fan was overheard saying
that the show was the "strangest concert [she'd] ever been
Glenn Tilbrook finally emerged, the crowd swarmed around him, effectively
blocking the street to traffic. Quickly moving to a nearby park,
the true magic of the evening began. Tilbrook hopped on top of a
bench and picked right up with a sing-along of "Piccadilly",
much to the delight of the remaining audience members.
another one of his unscripted moments, he decided to stage an experiment
that admittedly confused quite a few of the audience members. Before
playing "Is That Love", he asked for four volunteers with
cell phones; he had two act as broadcasters -- one holding the phone
up to his guitar, the other holding it up for his vocals -- and
they each called one of the other two volunteers, who acted as receivers.
The idea was to create a "stereo experience," so the two
receiving phones could be passed to audience members who could listen
to the vocal and guitar split between each ear. I'm not sure if
it worked since the phones never reached me, and the experiment
did take too long to set up (Tilbrook himself apologized for the
delay and urged members of the audience to "have a meal, see
a gallery, take in a film, and then try back"), but most of
the fans didn't mind. Some of the curious onlookers who had not
been inside at the House of Blues show did however seem to be extremely
the labored cell phone experiment, Tilbrook began one of his now-famous
"walkabouts", where he continued to play while leading
the audience through the neighborhood. At this time, he launched
into "Goodbye Girl" and was off on foot, up to Mt. Auburn
Street and over to Eliot Street. The crowd -- at this point a mixture
of die hard fans, passersby, and even a few of the neighborhood's
homeless who sleep in the aforementioned park -- flocked down the
street behind him, merrily singing along. He encircled the block
twice -- speeding up as he went.
The finale, the Squeeze staple "Pulling Mussels (From A Shell)"
came next, as Tilbrook continued to lead his ragtag band of followers
around the streets of Harvard Square. He continued to speed up --
darting in and out of traffic and crossing streets-before shocking
the entire audience by knocking on the window of a minivan stopped
at a red light, and then hopping inside, all the while continuing
to play. The van's passengers seemed more amused than scared (they
did, after all, let him into the car), even as the crowd moved into
the street and encircled the van. When the light turned green, the
van drove off -- though it went less than a block before Tilbrook
got out again. After running around the block one more time -- this
time finishing the song partway through the trip -- Tilbrook finally
stopped running at his "vintage" touring RV, signing autographs
and meeting the faithful few fans who had managed to keep up with
him through the last few songs.
Tilbrook, 44, is still recording music that's every bit as enjoyable
-- even if less groundbreaking -- than Squeeze's new wave-era output
is fairly remarkable. But his live show, half composed of charming
acoustic renditions of Squeeze songs and half of lively interactive
comedy, could be what ultimately wins him new fans and woos back
old ones who had long forgotten about Squeeze. But most importantly,
he's proving that he's plenty comfortable with his output, with
his fans, and with the fact that he never became the next Paul McCartney,
because even after 25 years he's still on the top of his game.
BUZZ: Musician: Have show, will travel
Richard L. Eldredge - Staff
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
On Monday, local Squeeze fans were still talking about
what they witnessed Sunday night at Variety Playhouse in Little Five
Points. When the United Kingdom pop group's co-founder Glenn Tilbrook
turned up for his debut solo acoustic date at the venue, he quickly
discovered the gig "wasn't particularly well-attended."
Instead of throwing a rock-star snit and barricading himself in his
dressing room with a case of beer, Tilbrook took the show to the Variety's
more intimate lobby where he performed new songs from his solo debut
CD, "The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook," along with some Squeeze
classics. The singer-songwriter then opted to take the double-digit
audience out the door and down the street for a few numbers. When
the crowd got to McClendon Street, a fan told Tilbrook, "That's
my house!" As luck would have it, she had an electric guitar
and amp inside.
"I ended up doing some songs in her sitting room and her kitchen,"
Tilbrook told Buzz via cellphone Monday. "People were outside
peering in the windows. I looked round the place and saw people's
faces. There was something very special happening with all of us.
It was a fantastic evening." Tilbrook and audience then returned
to the Variety for a few more songs, ending the free-form show around
On his new album, Tilbrook addresses the fleeting visibility awarded
to pop stars on the song "G.S.O.H. Essential."
Said Tilbrook: "The show in Atlanta is a lot like that song.
I came to a place where I had to be realistic about where I am these
days in the genre of pop music. It's no longer about having a lot
of hit records. Now I'm just happy to play for people who enjoy what
I do. If it turns out to be their sitting room, so much the better!"
Squeezes Big Apple - October 29, 2001
New York City--At 8 a.m. on October 18, New York
City commuters arrived in Grand Central Station like they do any
other day; they were groggy and grumpy, thinking about the day ahead
as they fumbled for change to buy coffee. There was no question
that they'd rather be back in bed. As if on ironic cue, some maniac
with an acoustic guitar started dancing around, belting the old
Squeeze hit, "Black Coffee In Bed," at the top of his
lungs. As the song began to penetrate through the fog of commuters'
minds, one passerby commented, "He sounds just like the guy
who sang that." Within a few more stanzas, it became apparent--the
maniac with the choirboy voice was the guy who sang that.
Glenn Tilbrook was jumping up and down, having a blast as he howled
through the Squeeze songbook, playing for spare change in Grand
Central. Rather than having fallen on hard times, the songwriter
behind "Tempted," "Pulling Mussels From The Shell,"
"Another Nail In My Heart," and other Eighties classics
was busking to raise money for the WTC relief effort. In addition,
he was also bringing attention to both his new solo debut, The Incomplete
Glenn Tilbrook (W.A.R./Quixotic), and the U.K. With NY arts festival.
Starting out on a small stage set up in 12,000-square-foot Vanderbilt
Hall, Tilbrook used a single JBL Eon loudspeaker as a monitor wedge;
given the hard Tennessee Pink marble floors and stone walls of the
room, the wedge easily doubled as the PA. The stage and AKG microphone
on hand were quickly abandoned, however, as Tilbrook took to the
floor to get closer to passing commuters. While the Eon box continued
to supplement the acoustic guitar, Tilbrook hooted and hollered,
making sure the vocals were heard loud and clear. The concert's
awesome reverb was supplied by the GCS unit, manufactured in 1913.
later played lunchtime and evening sets as well, and returned to
Grand Central the next day for a slightly different performance
tied in to U.K. With NY: a demonstration on how to cook Welsh rarebit.
It Up - Live at The Governor Hindmarsh - Wed Sep 12, 2001
After spending a large part of the previous 24 hours
unable to tear myself away from the sickening, endless, repeat footage
of the New York tragedy, the idea of going to the Governor Hindmarsh
Hotel for a night of acoustic pop music seemed monumentally wrong.
But eventually what drove me out on this most depressing of nights
was partly to see former (UK) Squeeze front man Glenn Tilbrook and
partly just to escape the television.
believe these events are the main reason that there were maybe 50
or so people in this fine 600 capacity venue, to see one of England's
best singer songwriters taking up the unenviable task of having
to 'entertain people' who have been watching hell live in their
lounge all that day.
Under the circumstances support band Fear Of Flying could probably
just've called themselves Scott and Nathan, but their acoustic set
was quite lovely and I look forward to seeing the whole band soon.
Glenn Tilbrook bounded on stage like it was the kind of full house
he's doubtless used to and proceeded to bang out fantastic songs
that took us all far away from the real world for a while.
Mixing songs from his rather splendid solo album, The Incomplete
Glenn Tilbrook, with a cavalcade of Squeeze favourites, Tilbrook's
bouyant humour and likable delivery turned it into a very special
night. Often talking to the 'crowd' without the microphone, Tilbrook
took requests, sang all the hits including Pulling Muscles From
A Shell, Tempted, Annie Get Your Gun, Is That Love and HEAPS more
(apart from Cool For Cats - 'I never actually sang that one') and
enticed us to be his rhythm section and backing vocalists for several
At one point he took the entire audience over to a corner by the
front door and did three songs standing on chairs, or having the
people move the chairs so he could walk around while playing.
New songs like the hysterical Interviewing Randy Newman and the
lovely Observatory, were as enthusiastically recieved as faves such
as Goodbye Girl and Up The Junction.
Afterward he sat around on the stage and chatted with people.
It was a lovely escape. Thanks Glenn.
Words by Ian Bell
- Live review
Mercury Lounge, New York - August 8, 2001
Usually when a big group breaks-up, the main lyricist is the singer,
and he/she goes on to a solo career that is similar in scope and acclaim
to what the band had achieved. What happens when the voice doesn't
write the lyrics? When the singer is the writer/arranger, but not
the lyricist. Such was the case with Squeeze. Can Glenn Tilbrook make
it without his lyricist Chris Difford?
Tilbrook has already answered that question with The Incomplete Glenn
Tilbrook CD which was released by What Are Records. His solo album
features great lyrics (not bad for someone who was chiefly responsible
for Squeeze's music). As hoped Tilbrook's solo CD features Squeezes
patented jangly hooks and first-person love songs. The question on
everybody's lips now would be "can he carry a solo concert?"
The resounding answer is yes!
solo (with only his acoustic guitar) Tilbrook led the crowd through
an overview of his career. As part (with Difford) of what was lauded
as the greatest English songwriting combo since Lennon-McCartney,
Tilbrook sang some of the smartest pop songs of the past 25 years.
During his concert at the Mercury Lounge, Tilbrook played a show
that paid homage to his Squeeze past, and showed us the future by
playing selections from his wonderful solo offering.
Opening with what he called a trio of songs written in decades where
the year ended in 1, Tilbrook played "Letting Go" (1991),
"Messed Around" (1981) and the newly released "This
is Where You Ain't" (2001).
immediately had the crowd eating out of his hands.
humor and fun banter between the songs, Tilbrook played all the
old favorites: "If I didn't Love You," the wonderful and
overlooked "The Truth" from Play, "Hourglass"
(with audience handclap participation), "Take Me I'm Yours,"
"Some Fantastic Place," "Up The Junction," "Pulling
Mussels From A Shell," "Goodbye Girl," "Is that
Love?"and, of course "Tempted."
truly made this show an experience was the new offerings: the hysterical
"Interviewing Randy Newman" which is a true story (hear
it for yourself and try to keep a straight face, "Observatory"
co-written by Aimee Mann, "Parallel World," "Other
World," "You See Me" co-written by Ron Sexsmith,
and "Sunday Breakfast Treat" which he punctuated with
a hysterical bit about preparing Stoffer's Welsh Rabbit (pronounced
-- and how it was his only product endorsement. He said the frozen
entree looked nothing like it does in the packaging, and proceeded
to explain how to prepare it. He then explained how the video would
look. It would be, he said, "...a cooking show that ended like
70's style soft porn movie." In it, his beautiful assistant
would come over to help and they would both stumble, with their
tongues meeting...well you get the idea.
show also featured David Poe as the opening act. In a perfect world
David Poe wouldn't have to support anyone else's tour. He played
an excellent set. His twenty minute set featured what can best be
called a re-write of "If You're Going to San Francisco"
called "California" (it is a fantastic song) as well as
the sweet ballad "Moon," "Apartment" and "Reunion"
which is about his (what else) family reunion.
was a night about joy. The Mercury was packed wall-to-wall with
Squeeze fans hoping to hear their faves. They got them all right.
also got a glimpse of what Glenn Tilbrook has to offer now and in
the future. What a fantastic show! - Mike Perciaccante
Liverpool Echo's web site
- May 2001
Glenn Tilbrook & The Party - Live at The Lomax
Tilbrook took to the stage at The Lomax on Sunday night in
typically unorthodox fashion - he and the band threaded their way
through the audience from the back of the venue, playing the opening
chords to "2001: A Space Odyssey" as they went. The former
Squeeze frontman, now touring with backing band The Party, is promoting
his solo album "The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook", but there
was nothing missing from this performance.
frequently raided the Squeeze back catalogue ("dipping into
Tilbrook gold"), delighting the crowd with rousing renditions
of the hits - but there were also nuanced performances of tracks
from the new album.
The Lomax is the perfect setting for Glenn's material, with the
sound intimate enough to allow his vocals to shine, yet powerful
enough to move the body when The Party rocked.
someone unfamiliar with Glenn's live shows, the surprise highlight
was his electrifying solo cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic Voodoo
Chile. When one wag from the audience asked if Glenn could emulate
Hendrix by playing with his teeth, the guitarist duly obliged for
a few notes before confiding: "Frankly, I can't." A storming
encore brought the show to an end, then the band climbed down from
the stage back into the audience and retraced their steps, playing
as they left.
The city (the Red half, at least) had been in party mood following
their team's treble homecoming, and this show was another triumph,
the perfect way to round off the day.
Week - 14 April 2001
Is Where You Ain't - Glenn Tilbrook
typically upbeat pop offering from the former Squeeze frontman proves
he has not lost his edge. Tilbrook tours the UK in May to promote
his debut solo album, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook.