The band Squeeze has an ironic connection to The Beatles, specifically with two members, pianist Jools Holland and famed keyboardist/ vocalist Paul Carrack. Holland was an original member of Squeeze (1974-81) and upon his departure in 1981 to pursue a solo career, he was replaced by Carrack. Both Jools Holland and Paul Carrack have impressive ties to the Beatle world as Holland was the interviewer in the 1995 Beatles Anthology series, and Carrack was a touring member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band in 2003.
The band Squeeze was formed in London with original members Glenn Tilbrook, Chris Difford and Jools Holland. Holland played with the band on their first three albums, Squeeze, Cool for Cats, and Argybargy. Those three albums contained hit songs such as “Up the Junction” and “Cool for Cats”, both of which reached the number two position on the British pop charts. Hits such as “Another Nail in My Heart” and “Pulling Mussels from a Shell” received substantial airplay on FM stations in the U.S. and Canada.
Paul Carrack, who was a previous member of the British pop-soul band Ace and the progressive rock band Roxy Music, replaced Holland. Carrack played on the 1981 Squeeze album East Side Story, which proved to be his one and only album with Squeeze as he left the band after the album’s release. East Side Story featured Squeeze’s international hit “Tempted”, which featured Carrack on lead vocals in a song written by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Though at the time “Tempted” never cracked the Top 40 in any major country, the song evolved into a major song in terms of radio airplay and since its 1981 release it has been featured in countless tv commercials as well as major movies. Carrack was replaced by Don Snow; the band released the album Sweets from a Stranger in early 1982 and then broke up later in the year, ironically just as Squeeze was getting a foothold in the U.S. with their videos being prominently played on the new MTV network.
Apart from a solo career, Jools Holland became a television personality on the BBC with his show Later, with the music of stars and future stars, not to mention chock full of interviews. It is a small wonder that the three surviving Beatles chose Holland to do the interviews in the 1995 three part Beatles Anthology television special.
It seems that Paul Carrack followed Jools Holland in Squeeze, and later followed him in terms of entering the Beatle world. In 2003 Carrack was a member of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, in a configuration that included Colin Hay (Men at Work), John Waite (The Babys and Bad English), and Sheila E. As is customary on the famous tours of Ringo’s All-Starr Band, Ringo sings both Beatles songs and his solo songs while the famous supporting band members sing a few of their own songs. On this 2003 tour Paul Carrack sang “How Long”, his hit with the band Ace, “Tempted”, and “The Living Years”, his hit as the lead singer of Mike + The Mechanics, which topped the charts in many countries in 1989 including the U.S.
Paul Carrack was the subject of the BBC Four documentary Paul Carrack: The Man with the Golden Voice, which chronicled his distinguished career both as a front man for various bands as well as a solo artist. In a review of the BBC documentary the magazine Record Collector editorialized, “If vocal talent equaled financial success, then Paul Carrack would be a bigger name than legends such as Phil Collins or Elton John.”
Carrack, who was born in 1951 in Sheffield, UK, was vocalist/keyboardist in his first band, Warm Dust, which released three albums of original songs from 1970 to 1972. Warm Dust was followed by the short-lived but long-remembered band Ace, for which he performed lead vocals for the 1975 hit “How Long”; Carrack wrote the song after learning that Ace’s bassist, Terry Corner, had been secretly working with a rival band. Understandably, most people think the song is about infidelity in a romantic relationship. From their album Five-A-Side, “How Long” catapulted up to number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and scored in at number 20 on the British pop charts.
After Ace disbanded in 1977 Carrack joined the prog rock stalwart Roxy Music, playing keyboards on that band’s final three albums. Then in 1981 Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford persuaded the vocalist/keyboardist to join Squeeze to replace the just departed Jools Holland. Of course, “Tempted” with Carrack on lead vocals is ironically the most famous Squeeze song despite the fact that Carrack left the band after that only album.
Immediately after leaving Squeeze joined a band that was more of a project formed by Nick Lowe. The band was called Noise to Go, and featured Carrack, Nick Lowe, Martin Belmont, James, James Eller and Bobby Irwin. The band was formed to back both Carrack on solo efforts as well as some artists produced by Nick Lowe. During this time, Carrack did the occasional session work with big name acts as his talents were in high demand.
His second solo album, Suburban Voodoo, was released in 1982. The album’s most successful single in the U.S. was “I Need You”, as its video gave the song a substantial amount of exposure as it was in regular rotation with the new MTV network, which had launched on August 1, 1981. The song did not fare well on the charts, however, spending two weeks in the Top 40 and peaking at number 37.
Then, as is well known, Mike Rutherford of Genesis recruited Carrack for a new side project, a band called Mike + The Mechanics. Carrack and singer Paul Young (not the Paul Young of “Everytime You Go Away” fame from 1985) were to share lead vocals. Carrack provided lead vocals on their 1985 hit “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)”. Four years later this “project” called Mike + The Mechanics would score an international number one hit in 1989 with “The Living Years”, finally giving Paul Carrack his first number one hit on which he performed lead vocals. It read the number one slot in the U.S. in March 1989 for one week.
Before the reunited Mike + The Mechanics topped the charts in 1989, Carrack had his own solo hit with “Don’t Shed a Tear”, which entered the Top 40 on December 19, 1987 and climbed to number nine, spending a total of 13 weeks in the Top 40.
Pianist Jools Holland and keyboardist Paul Carrack made great music with Squeeze. Needless to say both have done amazing things since leaving Squeeze. It is most ironic that Carrack would replace Holland in Squeeze, and then later both would enter the Beatles world in most unique ways.