Chris Difford

Today is the birthday of Squeeze songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Chris

Difford, who was born 44 years ago in London. In 1974, Difford and

songwriting partner Glenn Tilbrook formed Squeeze, one of the most

pop-oriented bands of the late '70s new-wave scene. Their engaging lyrics and

great hooks earned them comparisons to John Lennon and Paul McCartney

early on, but theirs was a true collaboration, with Difford writing

music and Tilbrook writing lyrics. Finding similarities between Squeeze

and their beloved Beatles and Kinks, the U.K. embraced Squeeze and moved

singles such as 1977's

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Squeeze/Take_Me_I'm_Yours.ram">"Take

Me I'm Yours" (RealAudio excerpt) into the top 20. Squeeze's first

full-length album, 1978's Cool for Cats, spawned four U.K. singles,

including the #2 hits "Cool For Cats" and "Up The Junction." 1980's

Argybargy brought them attention in America, where songs such as

"Pulling Mussels From the Shell," "If I Didn't Love You" and "Another

Nail In My Heart" received a great deal of FM-radio airplay. After the

album, keyboardist Jools Holland left the band and was replaced by Paul

Carrack (ex-Ace), whose singing on

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Squeeze/Tempted.ram">"Tempted"

(RealAudio excerpt), the single from 1981's

critically acclaimed East Side Story, earned the band its first

chart hit in America. Carrack left by the time of 1982's Sweets from

a Stranger. Though the album produced the hit "Black Coffee In

Bed," bandmembers became tired of relentless touring, so they split up at

the end of the year.

Difford and Tilbrook continued to work together, and in 1983, they staged a

musical, "Labelled With Love," at the Albany Empire in Deptford, England.

That

same year, they began recording the first Difford and Tilbrook album.

After Holland returned to the fold, Squeeze re-formed in 1985, releasing

Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. They had their biggest U.S. hit in 1987

with "Hourglass" from Babylon and On, and their steady fanbase

only grew, as their well-attended shows proved. But after a less

successful album, Frank, A&M Records dropped the band and Squeeze

didn't resurface again until 1991's Play on Reprise Records.

Squeeze continued on in the '90s and returned to A&M with more mature

songs built upon their traditional hook-laden melodies. Their most

recent release of new material was 1995's Ridiculous, and in 1996,

they issued The Piccadilly Collection, a compilation of singles

and B-sides.

Other birthdays: Neville Staples (Specials), 42; Stuart

Adamson (Big Country), 40; Nigel Pulsford (Bush), 33; and Lisa Stansfield, 32.