Album: East Side Story
. . .
Emboldened by the success of Argybargy, East Side Story was designed to be Squeeze’s big album statement. To the point where they were going to make it a double album, with a different producer helming a different side of the record. Given that the four producers they chose were Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney, it could have been a helluva thing. Or it could have been a disaster.
In the end, cooler heads — or actually, scheduling conflicts — prevailed, and they went with Elvis Costello. Which is a bit ironic, as EC was pumping out album after album at that point — he put out both Trust and Almost Blue in 1981 — and was probably the most busy out of the four of them.
You can’t argue with the results, though: East Side Story was hailed as a breakthrough at the time, a eclectic record that ranged from the blue-eyed soul of “Tempted” to the rockabilly of “Messed Around,” to the more sophisticated pop of “Woman’s World” and “Someone Else’s Bell.” And, of course, today’s entry, “Is That Love,” which might have originally been earmarked for the Lowe side, as Chris Difford’s lyrics mine some of the same territory as “Cruel to Be Kind.”
You’ve left my ring by the soap
Now is that love?
You cleaned me out, you could say broke
Now is that love?
The better, better, better it gets
The more these girls forget
That that is love
Probably the most uptempo song on the recording, featuring Glen Tilbrook contributing an opening guitar riff, as well as a cool solo in the middle, “Is That Love” zips through a litany pain, of climaxing with what is either the chorus or the bridge, embellished by a great set of Difford & Tilbrook harmonies over music that’s always on the verge of breaking down.
Beat me up with your letters, your walk out notes
Funny how you still find me right here at home
Legs up with a book and a drink
Now is that love that’s making you think
Later on in the song, Tilbrook sings “my assets froze while yours have dropped,” a great Chris Difford line that might have come from the pressure he felt showing his lyrics to Elvis Costello. In the end, “Is That Love” finally breaks down as Tilbrook concludes with a fantastically-observed outro over what sounds like a celeste or some shit.
You’ve made my bed, the finger points
Now is that, is that love
The more you, more you, more you cool down
The easier love is found
Now that is love
“Is That Love” was released as the leadoff single from East Side Story, but it stalled out at #35, though East Side Story itself made it as high as #19 on the U.K. album charts, and #44 on the U.S. charts, which beat Argybargy’s #77.
“Is That Love”
Did you miss a Certain Song? Follow me on Twitter: @barefootjim
The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page