My favorite 100 albums of all time: #89 ("Singles – 45's and Under")
This isn't exactly in the "going uphill to school both ways, in the snow!" territory, but here's something kids today can't relate to: buying an album, cassette, or CD in its entirety without hearing more than one or two cuts.
But that's exactly how I built most of my music collection in the 80s: scraping up enough money for one album at a time, and taking a chance on whether I'd like the entire thing, or just one or two singles. So when a band released an album that was all singles, that was the obvious choice.
And that's exactly what Squeeze's Singles – 45's and Under is, an album of the band's singles from 1978 to 1982. Twelve radio-perfect slices of new wavy goodness.
Yes, I'll admit that 45's is a bit dated. Like a fly trapped in amber, 45's is a beautifully preserved specimen of slickly produced Britpop.
"Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Black Coffee in Bed" are the songs that just about everybody in the Karaoke bar will belt out along with you after a few beers. "Mussels" is a a rip-roaring pop/rock piece with more than a little Beatles influence.
"Black Coffee in Bed" starts off with a faux-soul keyboard intro, and winds into an impassioned song of "loss and regret" according to Squeeze's Chris Difford. You might just catch that Elvis Costello is in the background. At a bit more than six minutes, "Coffee" is the longest track on 45's by nearly two minutes.
Most of the songs on 45's are short, to-the-point, and engineered for radio. It's a great pick-me-up album, or to sing along with on a long car drive.
"Tempted," a song about being caught out cheating, is probably my favorite cut on the album. Great harmonies, perfect tempo, and it effortlessly captures the regret of realizing the loss of a relationship through your own stupidity.
"Is That Love?" is a snarky, short little gem with a lovely and economical guitar solo. It moves along at fever pitch until winding down softly.
From start to finish, 45s is bright, easily accessible, unapologetic pop music meant to attack the charts. Bundled together in one easy collection, it's a go-to album when I want something fun and comfortable.