Jools Holland has one of the most successful music shows on British television and since Top Of The Pops folded in 2006, it’s now the only real place to see and hear an eclectic mix of music unlike the fodder that most commercial radio station turn out. Jools began as a session musician before becoming one of the founding members of Squeeze in 1974. He was their keyboard player until 1981 and played on classics like Take Me I’m Yours, Goodbye Girl, Cool For Cats and Up The Junction.
Up The Junction, which is reference to Clapham Junction, took its title from a pop show or kitchen-sink drama. Chris Difford explained, “Up The Junction came from a book and film of the same name, but it was inspired by the BBC series The Wednesday Play that I watched as a kid. It was written by people such as Mike Leigh and Tom Stoppard, so it was all kitchen-sink drama, EastEnders in black and white. I think we were among the first to apply that to music and write about women having periods and all that stuff.”
The song is unusual in that it has no chorus. Glenn Tilbrook explains, “I was thinking of something like Bob Dylan’s ‘Positively Fourth Street’ as a template when I wrote the music. It was our old manager, Laurence Impey, who was a big Bob Dylan fan and he introduced me to tracks like Who Killed Davey Moore, which was a stunning lyric about a boxer who died in the ring and it was written from the point of view of a ringside journalist. Up The Junction originally had about 16 verses, but it was Dylan who inspired me to write in a seamless way, like I was narrating a story.”
Glenn’s fellow member and Chris Difford added, “I imagined it would never be a hit and we’d have to take it off the album. And the record company said that they disagreed, and it our second consecutive number two hit, so they said if the manager was wrong he’d have to eat his heart. Not a very tasty thing to be doing.”
It has some wonderful near rhymes – happen with Clapham, common with forgotten and assumption and junction. It’s also one of only a handful of hits where the title is only mentioned once – at the end of the song.
When it came to Top Of The Pops, the band made a spoof performance which sees band members play the wrong instruments. Guitarist Glenn Tilbrook was seen on drums and Jools Holland attempting some fancy finger work on guitar.
In 1980, after returning from an Australian tour, Jools announced he was leaving the band with immediate effect. Glenn was absolutely devastated. He said, “I was convinced that we could have been the biggest band in the world, I felt like we were a unit that were welded at each hip.” Jools had a great way of communicating with an audience and was always the one to introduce the band halfway through the set, hence his success as presenter of the Channel 4 show The Tube and currently is own show Later with Jools Holland.
Other Top 20 hit singles followed, Another Nail In My Heart, Labelled With Love and Hourglass. Although their subsequent albums contained some lyrically great songs, the chart positions didn’t reflect to well.
Squeeze split in 1982, but reformed three years later with a new bass player, Kevin Wilkinson. Throughout the Nineties, there were various line-up changes including a brief re-appearance by Jools Holland. In July 1999, Kevin took his own life and that marked the end of Squeeze for the final time. If you meet someone who claims to be a squeeze fan, give them this trivia question, In Up The Junction what time was the baby born? They’ll probably speed through the lyrics and come up with 4.50. Just remind them that that was the time she was taken to an incubator – she was born 30 minutes later!