Friday, 8 March 2013

Desert Island Discs 40 I Didn't Get Where I am by Chris Difford

40 I Didn't Get Where I am by Chris Difford 2008

I'd never been a massive Squeeze fan. they were a typical singles band and I had the greatest hits that was it. I saw Chris Difford by accident having been to a concert to see Boo Hewerdine. Chris Difford was sharing the bill and played a set that basically consisted of the Squeeze greatest hits lp. I really liked his voice and the versions he did that night , but the 3 best tracks I hadn't heard before and he announced they were from his new lp.

I Didn't Get Where I Am is full of great songs , largely acoustic arrangements and some wonderful backing vocals that balance Chris Difford's lead. A kind of reverse of the way that he used to compliment Glen Tilbrook's sweeter lead vocals in Squeeze.

Most of the songs seem to have an autobiographical element and at times you feel you are listening to an exercise in therapy by song writing. Chris hasn't the strongest voice in the world but this is compensated by the fact that the  production is spot on and was a tad surprised to learn produced by an ex member of It Bites!

The opening track , a simple tale of a broken relationship, shows off the what a good job both Francis Dunnery did on production and Dorrie Jacksons great vocals

Tightrope - Chris Difford

A number of the songs deal with his at the time conflicted feelings about Squeeze

The track that gets me every time is Lamas Fayre, all about childhood and the family holidays that Chris Difford took with his parents and brothers. The music sways like the tide of the sea and there is always the sudden realisation that although the location , memories and details are different ,the lyrics and sentiment pull on  my own memories of long car journeys and beach holidays with mum, dad and sister. No matter how many times I hear this song this realisation emotionally hits me afresh every time.

My father my mother my bothers and me
So young and simple in my memory

The version of the lp is a lush affair laden with harmonies, here is a live version - a bit tinny and there is rather too much focus on the slide show but listen to the lyrics and if you have ever sat in a car on a rainy summer's day drinking lemonade and eating crisps then let the song take you back

The lp closes with Parents built around a lovely simple piano refrain and with the killer "Life's too short to mess about with anything but love"

Again for most people probably a nice enough lp but nothing more , however for some reason this one touches me with every track .. a mid life musical crisis

You can buy I didn't get here


  1. This is just a really special album. I am a great Squeeze fan, but was an ok fan of the Difford Tilbrook effort after Squeeze. In recent years I have really grown to realize that it was Chris Difford that was, for me the driving force of Squeeze. Together they are one of the UK's great songwriting teams, but on his own Difford is equally amazing.

  2. I remember you did a piece on Difford quite a long time ago, and being interested by the clips. However didn't follow up, maybe because of the Squeeze connection (never liked Tilbrook's vocals). I've just made use of recently heaven-sent Spotify and given this a listen... I'm shocked. This is superb, sounds nothing at all like Squeeze. It's right up my alley; lush but organic production, reflective lyrics and sweet female BGV's. No Show Jones, Electric Trains, Lamas Fayre, Tightrope, One Day, Cowboys jump out, but not a stinker in the bunch. Easy to see why it's high on your list. I'll be picking this up...

    #40 - MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER - Between Here & Gone (2004)

    - This is one of my favorite records of the last decade. Trev has mentioned MCC a couple of times on his blog. I've barely spoken to him about her work, but I've been secretly hoping he'd spotlight this beautiful album eventually 'coz there's no way my words can do it justice. For me it's her strongest release, a serious introspective record which compares with Gretchen Peters' best work, and mostly avoids her usual detours into uptempo Nashville twang. The title cut is absolutely stunning; 'In My Heaven' is well... heavenly. There's also the haunting 'Grand Central Station' one of the finest 9/11 tributes (along with SunKilMoon's 'Gentle Moon' & Miracle Mile's 'Falling Man'). Again, I can't decide which samples to post. Every one is special, so here's a bunch...

    Between Here & Gone:
    Grand Central Station:
    In My Heaven:
    Goodnight America:
    Shelter Of Storms:

  3. 'The Last Temptation of Chris' is great also; 'My Mothers' Handbag' reinforcing his talent for non mawkish nostalgia.
    Speaking of 'mawkish', that's a stone oft cast (unjustly) in MCC's direction TT; 'The Calling' and 'The Age of Miracles' are excellent (as are the early pleasures of Stones and Come On) but I concur with Between Here & Gone, a moving work of wonder.
    'Yeah I'm just wondering how we know where we belong. Is it in the arc of the moon leaving shadows on the lawn. In the path of fireflies and a single bird at dawn. Singing in between here and gone.'
    Mawkish my arse...

  4. I guess I'm oblivious to her mawkish tag.
    MCC's a poet of the highest order in my book...

  5. I'm rather partial to Squeezes' kitchen sink dramas. The only Chris Difford album I have is 'South East Side Story', where he covers some of Squeezes biggest hits.The songs are slowed down and a weeping slide guitar and female backing vocalst are added to the mix. The songs take on a completely new life. Tim I urge you to listen, you may be converted!
    # 40 The Poems - Young America. Tim had this earlier on his list. I think these are some of the best songs Robert Hodgens has written.

    1. Phil I'm wondering if you know where these POEMS songs come from???

      The Sound Of Young America:
      Goodbye & Good Luck:
      You Better Move On:

    2. A second album was started and I guess these tracks are from that.Maybe RH felt he couldn't continue without co-founder Bobby Paterson.

  6. Good advice Phil... I've just listened to "SE Side Story" and I quite like it. Exactly as you described, with Melvin Duffy's wondrous pedal steel prominent on every track. I would've bet money that 'Pulling Mussels' could never be revamped to appeal to me, but I was wrong. This countrified version is a little delight. The only tune I don't like is 'Cool For Cats.' The Cockney bit is just annoying. Black Coffee, Hourglass and Junction very nice as well.

    I've also been investigating "Cashmere" and "Last Temptation". Last Temptation (w/Boo) in particular has some really fine tunes and deft lyrical reminiscences. 'Reverso' is both humorous & touching! 'Broken Family' & 'The Other Man' brilliantly catchy earworms. 'Eden', 'Handbag' & 'Good Life' wistful gems. And again Melvin's sublime playing. Why am I so reminded of Grant McLennen's solo albums?

    Not likely that I'll ever become a Squeeze fan, but solo Difford... I can hardly wait for my Amazon orders to arrive! I might have to make a late substitution on my list. Thanks for the heads up to all!

  7. Melvin keeps popping up all over the place. No wonder he never answers his phone. I last was him on a live TV Sky Arts thing called 'From the Basement' where bands present themselves and their music in a reduction, though not exactly 'unplugged' that's kind of the vibe. Mel played with First Aid Kit in a double act with Kristina Train who was great too. Best in the series by a mile was Feist who is stunning. If you watch it keep going to the end as the last 'song' is amazing; you will never hear anything like it again...

  8. Another album that always surprises me with the potency of its moving references to childhood is Jimmy Nail's 'Tadpoles in a Jar'.
    No, really, it's great.
    A self financed album, Marcus plays on it.
    He's very protective of his (only) copy but I'll try and sneak it out of the studio and host some tracks...

  9. Just brought it from Amazon for .75p.
    So much for 'rare'...

  10. I still remember the audience gasp in the cinema during evita when the realisation that the slimey lothario in the early part of the film was jimmy nail - I did wonder at the time if Madonna was a secret Spender fan

  11. Still haven't seen that film. Even though she is Joe Henry's sister in law I loathe Madonna with a vengeance; she put the music industry back years.
    Apparently they are singing 'DCFM Argentina' in the Falklands today (or 99% are...)


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