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In the Music Spotlight: Squeeze

BY JEFF ELBEL | FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA

Cradle to the Grave” is the sparkling 14th release from perfect pop purveyors Squeeze. The album adds contenders to a stunning array of singles including “Hourglass,” “Cool for Cats, “Another Nail in My Heart,” “Up the Junction,” “Tempted,” “Satisfied” and “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell).” The British band’s consistency is impressive considering that “Cradle to the Grave” is its first album of original material since 1998’s “Domino.”

Although Squeeze broke up following 1982 “Annie Get Your Gun,” mainstays Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook continued to collaborate. They reunited the band in 1985, and split again following 1998’s “Domino” album. The pair remained friends as they pursued other work.

The group’s third chapter began with its most recent reunion in 2007. The group released its “Spot the Difference” album, re-recording 14 classic Squeeze singles as closely to the original versions as possible.

New songs from “Cradle to the Grave” like the upbeat “Happy Days” hinge upon familiar touchstones including sharp, witty lyrics and crafty psych-pop arrangements. The sound is led by Tilbrook’s reedy tenor and underscored an octave below by Difford’s baritone.

Title track “Cradle to the Grave” is now used as the theme song for BBC television’s period drama Cradle to Grave, about a family’s life in ’70s London. The show is built around the youthful experiences of author Danny Baker, who attended the same school as Difford.

Squeeze has maintained a reputation for top musicianship despite frequent membership changes. “I think there’s been about 800 different people in Squeeze,” Tilbrook said on the BBC Breakfast program in October. Past members have included keyboardist and noted music presenter Jools Holland. The current line-up includes members of Tilbrook’s solo band The Fluffers. “We’ve got an amazing band now, and we’re doing a live tour,” said Difford on the program. “Not that we do any other kind of tour.”

* Squeeze, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27-28, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; $40-$60 (18+over); parkwestchicago.com.

Spotify playlist: http://bit.ly/SqueezeSPOT

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.