Friday, January 8, 2021

"853-5937" by Squeeze

Song#:  3369
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  79
Peak:  32
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  Sqeeeze secured their biggest hit in the US with "Hourglass," the first single from their album Babylon and On. It would reach #15 Pop and #22 Rock. For a follow-up, this phone number-based track was released. It wouldn't do quite as well, but the track did crack the Pop Top 40 while getting to #37 at Rock. It would end up being the band's last song to reach the US Pop chart. Their next album, 1989's Frank, failed to capitalize on the success of their previous effort and they ended up dropped from their label. Still, the band soldiered on in various incarnations over the years and released albums for several labels. They had a bit of a comeback in 1993 with Some Fantastic Place, which became their best effort at home in the UK since Babylon and On thanks to a Top 40 hit. In the US, the track "Everything in the World" got to #9 on the Alternative Airplay chart.

ReduxReview:  This mid-tempo tune's phone number hook was memorable, but as a whole it wasn't quite as catchy as the more urgent "Hourglass." Still it was a good song and its Top 40 placement was appropriate. Difford and Tilbrook had a knack for writing solid pop tunes and they should have been more popular in the US. However, thanks to the success of Babylon and On, fans new to the band went and bought copies of their 1982 compilation disc Singles - 45's and Under, which peaked on the chart at #47 when first released. In January of '88, the LP would reach gold level sales. Three years later it would go platinum. It remains the only Squeeze album to have a sales certification in the US.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Is the song title a real phone number? According to band members and co-writers Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, the answer is yes. It was Glenn Tilbrook's own number. This was back in the days of folks having answering machines and many people, including yours truly, would record clever (or annoying) little songs, skits, or sayings that would play for the incoming caller when the phone went unanswered. Musicians were especially keen on writing little ditties for their machines and it seems that Glenn Tilbrook wrote one for his. Usually these messages would end up getting deleted and replaced with something else, but Tilbrook thought the one he did could be turned into an actual song. He and Difford fleshed out the tune keeping Tilbrook's own phone number. How long he kept that number after the song was released is unknown. Does the number still exist? It does in certain locations in the US. A quick look shows that the number (with the area code of 813) belongs to the Bulla Gastrobar in Tampa, Florida. There are also a couple of private residences in other area codes that have the number.


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