Album: Singles 45’s And Under
. . .
One of the greatest things about English punk and post-punk was not just it was singles-oriented, but also that the bands were so freakin’ prolific. Which is why so many of those bands put out such great singles compilations. Obviously, the greatest will forever be the Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady, but I’ll also put in a word for The Jam’s Snap, or XTC’s Waxworks: Some Singles 1977–1982, even if they were all solid albums artists as well.
Anyways, right up there with all of those is Squeeze’s Singles 45’s and Under, which came out in 1982, and made such a mark on me that the only Squeeze song I’ve written about that wasn’t on it were “There at The Top” and “Labelled With Love” (which was on the U.K. version instead of “If I Didn’t Love You.”)
And so, in the grand tradition of many greatest hits albums, Singles 45’s and Under had an extra track tacked onto it for the punters who were collectors, as well as a way to draw attention to the release. As you know, these are always a mixed bag, but in the case of “Annie Get Your Gun” it was an absolute jackpot, even if most of the band didn’t even play on it. Apparently, after deciding that “Annie Get Your Gun” would be the next single after Sweets From a Stranger, the song’s producer had studio cats put it together, something I didn’t know until I started writing this post.
And while drummer Gilson Lavis recorded a drum part, nobody else from the band played on it — which is weird, considering how musicianly they were — which I guess doesn’t matter, because I love its pace, momentum and awesome rhythm guitar flourishes, which come after each line.
She goes for her medical
She’s passed, it’s a miracle
She’s up over the moon
She whistles nonsense tunes
She wants drinks for everyone
She’s found a chord that she can strum
Emotions leaking out
Her paint’s all over town
And yeah, it’s probably too slick by half — that big burbly bass and the background synth washes were unnecessary — but none of that matter to me when Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford sang one of their most melodic call-and-response choruses.
What’s that she’s playing?
(Annie, get your gun)
What’s that she’s taking?
(The song has to be sung)
She’s gone electric
(Annie, wipe them out)
(Strum that thing and shout)
Don’t pull that trigger
(Annie, get your gun)
Don’t shoot that singer
(You’re shooting number one)
And yeah, it doesn’t make much sense, especially when compared to some of Chris Difford’s great story songs, like “Up The Junction” or “Black Coffee in Bed,” but I find it so infectious, especially each time Tilbrook sings “she’s gone eleeeeeectric” like Annie is pulling some low-level Dylan shit.
Singles 45’s and Under came out in October, 1982, just before I started inflicting myself on the music listening public, and one of the songs I inflicted on people the most was this one, and it remains one of my very favorite Squeeze songs.
A confession: Squeeze broke up after Singles 45’s and Under, and while Difford & Tilbrook never stopped working together, neither 1984’s Difford & Tilbrook or the reunion album, 1985’s Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti did anything for me. After that I stopped paying attention, and barely even heard their breakthrough single, 1987’s perfectly serviceable “Hourglass,” which made it to #15 on the U.S. singles chart.
That said, Difford & Tilbrook continued to make records — the last one came out in 2017 — and it’s entirely possible that I’ve missed a few gems on those records.
“Annie Get Your Gun”
“Annie Get Your Gun” live in 1990
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