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The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook

music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook

Artist: Glenn Tilbrook
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: August 2001

Review by JaredD
4 stars out of 4

Most people who know of Glenn Tilbrook (those who aren't die hard fans such as myself), will know him as the one who wrote the music and had the sweet voice of Squeeze. For those of you out there who know of neither Glenn nor Squeeze, I feel very, very, very bad for you. Get familiar with Squeeze as soon as possible, but FIRST, BUY THIS ALBUM.

For stateside fans, buying this album may be a little difficult, as the U.S. label (Valley Entertainment), has yet to release it. The best way, I suppose, would be to preorder it from Amazon, or order it straight from Glenn's label at Now, to the album....

I don't know what the hell happened to Glenn Tilbrook between the writing/recording of Squeeze's last album, Domino (still a great record), and the writing/recording of The Incomplete GT, but whatever he did, he should continue to do it. Glenn's voice has somehow reached a brand new peak. His voice has a freshness and crispness to it that hasn't been there for some time, and I have always been a huge fan of Glenn Tilbrook's voice. Also, the music Glenn has written for this album is the catchiest music to come from him since Some Fantastic Place.

The major worry that I had before listening to this album, was what Glenn Tilbrook's lyrical stylings would be, as previously all lyrics had been written by Chris Difford. As it turns out, there was no need for worry. The single "This is Where You Ain't" proves that Glenn Tilbrook has a serious lyrical talent to equal that of any other. The lyric has a well developed plot, sing-along chorus, exactly what we all love about Squeeze lyrics (so one can see the lasting impression Chris had). Some of the best lyrics on this album are the ones where Glenn shows his ability to poke fun at himself in songs like "Up the Creek" with that great little couplet "We danced for a while and though I'm chunky/That has never stopped me feeling funky," I found myself singing those lines to myself for days after hearing them.

I could go on and describe every good point about this album, but, frankly, I don't have the time. There is not a bad song on this album. Oh, yeah, "Otherworld" (the only song GT didn't have a hand in writing) is one of the most beautiful performances that GT has ever comitted to record. What else can I say, other than BUY THIS ALBUM!!!!!!!! BUY IT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

After 20 years of making often brilliant pop records together but more than a decade of declining sales and inconsistent work, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford have dissolved Squeeze. Working on his own has refocused Tilbrook. The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook isn't as good as Squeeze's best records but it's quite consistent and Tilbrook's best since Squeeze's last great work, 1991's Play. The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook is a mix of the kind of adult and pleasant but not particularly substantial or memorable music Squeeze has often made in their later work, starting with 1987's Babylon And On and especially on their last three records, and some music that's fun and tries new things.

Tilbrook has always given ample credit to Difford for writing Squeeze's lyrics but Tilbrook was the main reason for Squeeze's appeal. He has immense pop gifts: a fluid, likable voice and an ability to seemingly effortlessly create tuneful, unshowy guitar lines and very appealing melodies. The downside of Tilbrook's pop facility is that since Squeeze's high point, 1981's East Side Story, his music has sometimes been a little superficial and his voice can be a little too sweet. Both sides of that facility are on display on Incomplete, especially on the first few songs on the CD, which are quite pleasant but don't have much depth. This Is Where You Ain't is a very genial breakup song with an upbeat Motown style beat but, from Tilbrook's lyric to the slight tinkle of a synth hook and layers of backing vocals, it's a little slick and trivial. Observatory, written with Aimee Mann, is also glossy pop but the song, about ending a doomed relationship at a planetarium, has some nice touches. I like the lyric "did that help? No, it did not" and Tilbrook taking pride in the fact "at least we were calm." Parallel World imagines a slightly different world where a stale relationship could work. It has a cool restraint though it's sometimes a little too restrained. Morning starts very well with Tilbrook singing a capella, like on 853-5937, then playing a trademark smooth electric guitar line. When the strings come in, it becomes another routine, decent sounding song. One Dark Moment has the tasteful, mature but slightly insipid sound of some of Squeeze's worst record, Ridiculous, and could use a little mussing up. One Dark Moment is better on the CD's "bonus track" mix with just Tilbrook and his acoustic.

Incomplete shifts from good to very good as Tilbrook loosens up and does some things differently from Squeeze. It's always struck me as odd that Tilbrook has never written lyrics. His concert banter has always shown brains and a charming wit. Three of Incomplete's best songs are Tilbrook sole compositions with fun music. The lyrics show he can write effectively on his own, with a vividness and personal quality sometimes lacking from Difford's recent lyrics. Tilbrook establishes a winning persona of a guy who sees the absurdity of trying to fit in the current youth oriented pop scene but is still trying to find a place in it. With its sub-Stevie Wonder harmonica playing, G.S.O.H. Essential isn't so different from the polite pop that precedes it but it benefits from a buoyant mood and Tilbrook's focused vocal as he bemusedly(G.S.O.H. title is short for good sense of humor) tries to find some similarity between the beloved Monkees of his youth and current lame Brit preteen idols S Club 7. Up The Creek has Tilbrook ignoring that he feels old and out of place in a dance club ("though I'm chunky, it has never stopped me feeling funky") until his dance partner tells him she's the daughter of an old friend of his. Tilbrook has fun simulating a 70s disco song, mocking the form's "anything to make you dance" urgency(with fun touches like a polka coda), but still making it catchy and hook filled. Interviewing Randy Newman is delightfully eccentric, with cartoonish, slightly frantic electronic music that matches Tilbrook's anxiety in recalling an embarrassing incident. We Went Thataway, the least of Tilbrook's sole compositions, is intentionally a little silly but it has a good, light, psychedelic feel. I Won't See You, written with Kim Stockwood, is a sad but appealing midtempo rocker.Tilbrook played most of the instruments and created a good groove.

The ballads on Incomplete work because Tilbrook keeps them simple. Other World is appealing spare with a good, heartfelt Tilbrook vocal. Even better is You See Me, written with Ron Sexsmith, a sweet song that sees love as a very uncomplicated thing. Tilbrook is accompanied mostly by Stephen Large's very good, minimal keyboards.

Tilbrook produced The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook with Andy Metcalfe, who played with Squeeze and Robyn Hitchcock's Egyptians, and the two of them played most of the instruments. The CD sounds fine and always makes, at least, amiable listening. Unlike the last three Squeeze records, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook doesn't have any real stinkers and, on a few occasions, it approaches greatness.



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