Sunday, December 8, 2019

SQUIRE/Get Ready To Go with September Gurls!




SQUIRE

GET READY TO GO!
and
SEPTEMBER GURLS 

Available NOW!


With these two 2019 releases, you get two sides of the story. But before I go any further, let’s get you caught up with the band Squire. Here’s what I wrote about them for All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com):

“When The Jam moved up from Punk upstarts to Mod statesmen in 1979, the British kids turned to other Mod outfits to satisfy their craving for everything well-dressed and retro. While The Chords followed in The Jam's footsteps, the three other main contenders for the Mod crown followed different musical paths: Secret Affair was a magical blend of Punk, Soul and Pop with a mild dose of Prog; The Lambrettas were straightforward Power Pop; and Squire was a mix of all of the above and more. In fact, if the Mod scene hadn't existed, Squire would have still made brilliant, timeless records, no matter what was going on around them. While only releasing one full-fledged album (GET SMART!), singer/songwriter Anthony Meynell would embrace the '60s wholeheartedly while releasing a batch of singles that still managed to sound contemporary while exposing the many influences he wore on his sleeve.”

While those words were written some two decades ago, they are still relevant. In the 35 years since the band initially went on hiatus, their guitar-fueled Pop gems remain as timeless as ever. Play any of Squire’s records to a new listener and they’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint when they were recorded. The melodies still sparkle and the creative energy is still living within those grooves.

Thankfully, in recent years, Meynell has dusted off his Rickenbacker and brought Squire back to life. With bassist Jon Bicknell, who has played with Meynell in Squire since 1982, and new drummer Ray Lawrence, the band’s profile has been higher than its ever been. Perhaps realizing that his music made more of an impact than he originally thought, Meynell re-activated his Hi-Lo Records label and has released a pair of historic Squire releases in 2019.


The first, SEPTEMBER GURLS, contains the 1984 five track EP of the same name, the band’s last release before their dissolution, and adds five freshly-penned new recordings featuring the Meynell/Bicknell/Lawrence line-up. The tracks from the original EP featured three covers (including Big Star’s title track and Shoes’ “Boys Don’t Lie”) alongside two excellent Meynell originals. The five new songs are just as fab as the older material with the magnificent “Circular Motion” being the standout. These new songs jangle, bop, and rock with the same ‘60s-inpired energy of Squire’s classic material. Every song has a melodic hook or three that demand many relistens.  You may hear The Kinks influence on “I’m Tired Of You” but then it goes in a few different directions and it all melts together into that great Squire sound. The recordings are so focused and so melodic that it sounds like the band has never been away. There’s plenty of crunch and confidence on display here. SEPTEMBER GURLS presents the end of the Squire of old and a brilliant new beginning…



Speaking of beginnings, the second Squire CD this year travels all the way back to the beginning. And by ‘beginning’, I mean even before Squire existed! GET READY TO GO! Is a truly fascinating look into Meynell’s earliest recordings. With a four-track recorder, a stack of self-penned songs, and a drumming brother named Kevin, Meynell was writing ’60s inspired gems even before Mod was a ‘thing’. The album starts off with a bang – a new song (with Bicknell/Lawrence) called “I’m 21” written about the heady days that gave birth to the rest of the songs featured here. From that point on, GET READY TO GO! is a thrill ride through a more electric time. The Punk and New Wave movement inspired Meynell to write a great batch of songs, none of which saw release until now. Sure, these tracks are rough and raw but it was obvious that Anthony knew how to translate his ideas very early on.  While there may be the occasional bum note, “Let’s Have Some Fun” is pretty damn glorious.  A perfect mix of Beatles ‘n’ Beach Boys put through the Meynell musical blender. “City Breakdown” is like early raw Rock ‘n’ roll ala Merseybeat. “Four-Timer Girl” is classic Squire and could have easily been an early single. “All I Gotta Do” is an homage to The Beatles’ “Thank You Girl” and steals some of the chords and bits of the melody. A few of the tracks – “I Just Don’t Wanna Work”, “Livin’ In The City”, and “No Change” – are influenced by the anger found in Punk but thankfully, it was only a mild gravitational pull and Meynell returned to writing great Pop songs. However, it must be said that at least Meynell was channeling the Clash’s debut album during his Punk phase. The album ends with the band’s debut single – and title of this compilation – “Get Ready To Go”. As a debut single, it was simple, raw, and catchy as hell. To be able to look behind the curtain and experience the embryonic early days of Anthony Meynell as a songwriter and singer is both fascinating and exhilarating.


So, there you have it.  Two fantastic releases by Squire in one year. Sure, we only got six NEW songs between the two of them, but that is six more than we got in the previous 35 years! The rest of the material contained on these discs are definitely worth your time and hard earned dinero. These are essential if you are a fan of Mod, Jangle, or Power Pop. Hell, these are essential if you are a fan of quality Rock and Pop music.  And it remains as timeless as ever.

Your pal,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee


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