Saturday, July 14, 1984

Difford & Tilbrook charted with their self-titled album

Difford & Tilbrook

Difford & Tilbrook

Released: June 1984

Charted: July 14, 1984

Peak: 55 US, 47 UK

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: new wave


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Action Speaks Faster (4:50]
  2. Love’s Crashing Waves (3:08] (6/84, 32 CO, 57 UK)
  3. Picking Up the Pieces (3:18]
  4. On My Mind Tonight (4:08]
  5. Man for All Seasons (2:35]
  6. Hope Fell Down (4:22] (9/84, --)
  7. Wagon Train (3:36]
  8. You Can’t Hurt the Girl (3:01]
  9. Tears for Attention (4:50]
  10. The Apple Tree (4:24]

Songs written by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.

Total Running Time: 38:12

The Players:

  • Chris Difford (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, lead guitar)
  • Keith Wilkinson (bass)
  • Guy Fletcher (keyboards)
  • Andy Duncan (drums, percussion)
  • Larry Tollfree (percussion)
  • Debbie Bishop (backing vocals)


2.979 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)

Quotable: Difford & Tilbrook’s ”songwriting talents are as formidable as ever…but…[this] seems like a record without a center” – Christopher Connelly, Rolling Stone

About the Album:

”While Squeeze collapsed from physical and artistic exhaustion after Sweets from a Stranger, the band's songwriting duo soldiered on under the name Difford & Tilbrook for another release.” AMG “Song-wise [this] is a more consistent album than the schizophrenic Sweets from a Stranger.” AMG

”Chris Difford (guitar, lyrics) and Glenn Tilbrook (guitar, vocals, music) have spun ten widely varied pop songs, each one a showcase for Difford's warmhearted, wise-guy lyrics and Tilbrook’s fetching altar-boy tenor.” RS ”The addition of Keith Wilkinson's deep-bottomed bass and Debbie Bishop's snappy soprano backing vocals is a major improvement.” RS “There's also Andy Duncan (drums) [and] Guy Fletcher (keyboards).” JA

They “set out to craft an '80s contemporary blue-eyed soul record, emulating all the requisite synth washes and drum machines from early-'80s Hall & Oates albums like H2O and Private Eyes…this was clearly meant as a shot at the big time…but the album tanked on the charts precisely because it still sounded like Squeeze.” AMG

Difford and Tilbrook…shows that their songwriting talents are as formidable as ever,” RS but “characters, tones and themes seems to change from song to song on this record.” RS The album “seems like a record without a center, a surfeit of diversity with a dearth of direction.” RS Consequently “there's not quite enough urgency - or unity - to the songs here…No one's asking for an anthem…but songs with the spirit of ‘Another Nail in My Heart’ or the youthful wit of ‘Separate Beds’ would allow their more eclectic work to be that much more effective.” RS

"Action Speaks Faster than words,’ declares the album's initial track, a fusion of British pop and American rap that would be more successful if Tilbrook's Anglo vowels (‘fah-stah’) didn't de-funk the enterprise. Given that song's message, it's ironic that the tune's charging, horn-fueled end…leads right into the ornate verbosity of the single, Love's Crashing Waves. Here, the talented Difford makes his cohort wrap his mouth around some tough lines: "Concocted rumours/By out-of-tuners/Are the must in love's concerto." Even the chorus' delightful zing can't quite redeem all of that verbiage.” RS

Difford & Tilbrook is chock full of Tilbrook's typically jaunty pop tunes. Picking Up the Pieces is one of his best; bright, enthusiastic and direct, the tune is enlivened all the more by a judiciously employed string section and by Bishop's chirping.” RS

“Tilbrook has always evinced an affection for the husky, world-weary tones of the saloon singer, even though his voice is laden with fresh-faced innocence. For On My Mind Tonight, he adopts a tipsier tone - Paul McCartney at last call. The tune is almost a cocktail-lounge funk, and the singer languorously - and impotently - bemoans his lovelorn state: ‘The silence of the telephone doesn't bother me/But I wish that it would ring....I'm the man who would be king/The small hand’s on the five.’” RS

“The LP lacks a track that would make a truly thrilling single, though…’Picking Up the Pieces’ and Hope Fell Down…come close.” RS The latter “reveals Difford's sassy wit: ‘Your ship came in/And your fanfare sunk it,’ he notes in a track that approximates the style of Squeeze's lone stateside hit, ‘Tempted.’” RS

”Difford displays his…facility for conjuring torrents of emotion - even the end of the world - in the jetsam of everyday life: the ash in the pages, the wax around the wick, the pen devoid of ink. In You Can’t Hurt the Girl, he weaves some intriguing ambiguity into a tale of an oft-heartbroken woman. ‘You can't hurt the girl,’ Tilbrook sings in the chorus, and it's not until the end that he adds a telling ‘...and not cry.’” RS

”The bounce” of the “Costello-ish foot-tapper” JAMan for All Seasons will remind some of East Side Story’s ‘In Quintessence.’” RS

“There are a couple of prettily harmonized love songs (You Can't Hurt the Girl; Tears for Attention)” JA “and it's nice to hear Difford's low buzz of a voice at the end of the uptempo throwaway Wagon Train.” RS

“Difford's dexterous style works best on” RS the “fascinatingly creepy” JAThe Apple Tree, as he develops a series of harrowing images in a post-nuclear-holocaust scene: the abandoned house with the coffee still on, the fingernail scratches on the church door. ‘It's a silence you can see,’ he writes, ‘hearing shadows behind me.’ Musically, Tilbrook is equal to the challenge. His swirling, eerie arrangement - reminiscent of [The Beatles’] ‘A Day in the Life’ - skews the deceptively commonplace melody line and builds the track to its dramatic conclusion.” RS

“Over time, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook would prove to be the only constant members of Squeeze anyway, making Difford & Tilbrook the lost Squeeze album and the missing puzzle piece between Sweets from a Strangerand Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. Despite being far from the duo's best work (and it's certainly the rarest), serious fans will want to seek this out.” AMG

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First posted 7/23/2008; last updated 2/7/2022.

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