Squeeze take on the British welfare crisis in new political single
12 January 2018
Squeeze have released ‘Rough Ride’; the new single from their 15th studio album, The Knowledge, which has received universal critical and commercial success. On this album, Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford felt something needed to be said about the current state of British welfare crisis. A sombre note of austerity echoes across ‘Rough Ride’, lamenting the struggles faced living in the capital, its ultimately hopeful message enriched by guest performers also from South London, namely the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir and the Thorntree School Choir.
Featuring choral arrangements and a Freddie Hubbard-esque trumpet solo, culminating in the biting question “Austerity, austerity, is that all you have to give to me?” this is Squeeze at their most socially conscious and musically ambitious. It also shows an evolution in Squeeze’s songwriting, with Glenn taking up the lyrical mantle for this particular tune. Chris Difford comments, “As I listen to this now I can’t get over how well the band are sparking, it’s a well-tuned engine at its best. Glenn wrote this one and I’m pleased that he did, it’s something I would have found difficult to convey with such accuracy. Simon plays some wonderful drums on this while Stephen leans to the soul of the song.”
Squeeze’s political stance has also made an impact with the general public during their 24 date UK Tour, becoming a stand-out track amongst fans and garnering praise from publications such as The Scotsman, who states: “From the latter record, they champion the NHS and – most effectively of all – scorn the legacy of unaffordable housing and austerity which their generation has left their children,” in their 4 star review of Squeeze’s Edinburgh show.
After adapting the lyrics to 2015’s ‘Cradle To The Grave’ during a live performance on The Andrew Marr Show (attended also by Prime Minister at the time David Cameron) Glenn wrote a piece for The Guardian Online stating:
“Cameron was talking about knocking down sink estates and rebuilding “affordable housing”. I have four children, and I despair at what has happened to the economy and to UK house prices. It has got to the point where people are no longer able to live in the areas where they grew up unless they have some sort of financial help. I think that’s a result of a system of values that have been encouraged by this government, which is completely wrong – and it wasn’t helped by the previous government either”.
Produced by Glenn, Andrew Jones and Laurie Latham, ‘The Knowledge’ was recorded at 45 RPM Studios in Charlton, and finds Glenn and Chris once again in the company of drummer Simon Hanson and keyboard wizard Stephen Large, plus a couple of new faces; Yolanda Charles on bass and Steve Smith on percussion.