Label: A&M Records - POCM 1933 • Series: A&M Pops Profile,Audio Master Plus Series • Format: CD Album, Reissue, Stereo • Country: Japan • Genre: Rock • Style: Pop Rock
It will have proved valuable experience because they are about to be thrust into comparisons with Rice and Lloyd-Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein, even Gilbert and Sullivan.
Supporters of Difford's clever observations of everyday life and Tilbrook's disarmingly catchy melodies have long hoped for something more substantial from the pair than a selection of unconnected songs on a band album. The script was written and Labelled With Love - Squeeze - East Side Story company assembled before the two songwriters became involved, but since discovering Turner's plans, they have thrown themselves whole-heartedly into the project, adding a couple of new songs, helping with the arrangements and the stage sound, and promoting the event.
This kind of production is an artistic minefield. Grafting a plot onto existing lyrics can lead to some grotesque story lines of the "Eleanor Rigby meets Bungalow Bill and takes a Ticket to Ride on a Yellow Submarine" type. And Labelled with Love does have some creaky moments, especially in the first half where the dialogue is at its most contrived.
Similarly the former GI bride looking to recapture the drama of her wartime seduction is asked to drop an unrelenting series of clues - whisky, Texas, country music - to prepare us for the show's title song. But the enthusiasm of the company, of whom Colen Marsh as Eric the Landlord and Alison Limerick as the disillusioned cabaret singer Monica deserve special mention, just about holds the piece together.
Personally I missed Glenn Tilbrook's own distinctive vocal performances of the songs, but it was interesting to hear them in the context of a stage musical where Chris Difford's gift for narrative lyrics was fully exposed. Neither of the songwriters wants to take Labelled with Love any further. They have their own purpose-built musical in preparation and plans for a new band. But the Deptford show, which runs for another six weeks, bodes well for the future.
Tim Rice, who knows a thing or two about musicals, was in the audience the night I went, checking out the competition. He will not be the only writer looking over his shoulder at a theatrical career blossoming in this unlikely corner of London's dockland. Alison Limerick as the embattled partner of the house band's would-be star is particularly Je Suis Fier - Ahmess - Vivre Pour Le Son Vol.2 - Le Big Boss. It's a tale of the impatience of youth, the regrets of middle age, the impact of change on both and finally, the need for people to stick together.
But who cares? A thoroughly local scene at a proudly local theatre, this East Side Story is of value to all. Squeeze's song are not simply strong pop melodies, Labelled With Love - Squeeze - East Side Story highly literate and picturesque, graphic in their portrayal of individuals and situations, sharpened with an uncommon verbal wit and clarity. But they are, at the same time, very self contained.
Labelled with Love - which is built principally around the songs from the album, East Side Story - wisely does not try to use the songs as narrative in the manner of an Evita or Jesus Christ Superstarbut sets the action with a band playing in a South London pub, where the music can quite naturally stand in its own right when not being used as a theatrical device. In this respect, Labelled with Love is very much rock and roll performed in a theatre context, rather than theatre half-heartedly borrowing the idioms of rock.
The Хуесосня 3 - Джент Эдишн - Анальная Кара Черенком От Лопаты - SPQR Labelled With Love - Squeeze - East Side Story places the piece firmly in a parochial context with Come And Get Me - Various - Cajun & Zydeco (Milestones Of Legends) struggling rock band providing the last chance for live entertainment to save the Nail in the Heart, which is being threatened by the brewery with transformation into a neon-lit, disco cocktail bar.
This, thank heavens, is not destined to be the stuff of the West End charabanc crowd. The script by John Turner who also directs crackles with humour, Labelled With Love - Squeeze - East Side Story and no little insight into South London manners and the vagaries of rock music ambition and success. But there is a basic flaw in the structure with the introduction of a sub-plot about a high-powered American businesswoman who strays into the Nail in search of her long-lost mother - a situation of such tortuous complexity that the piece is all but derailed.
Thankfully, Labelled with Love is ultimately retrieved by its imaginative staging, athletic choreography, those clever Squeeze songs, and some notable performances from the cast of six. Colen Marsh is particularly good as landlord Eric, with his repertoire of camp mannerisms and pretensions.
It may not be Gilbert and Sullivan - to whom Squeeze were once compared by one American critic - but it is funny, warmhearted, and highly enjoyable - the closest thing yet seen to a "rock musical" in the purest sense of the term. But this district of south-east London is the homeland of two of the finest British rock bands of recent years, Squeeze and Dire Straits, along with several dozen others.
It also has that authentic inner-city atmosphere - multi-racial, fast-talking, street-wise - and, even more important, a cultural centre which suits its spirit. This is the Albany Empire, a cosy little auditorium. With its bars and tables and predominantly local clientele, it is one of the best places in the country to enjoy popular music.
It is impossible to separate appreciation of the venue from appreciation of what takes place in it, so I was biased in favour of the Albany's new musical, Labelled with Lovebefore the lights went down.
But it was so much fun that I think I'd have liked it anywhere. Based on songs from the Squeeze album East Side Storythe play is a kind of local opera set in a Deptford pub. The plot unfolds in the manner of a barroom conversation, with many non-sequiturs and abrupt changes of subject. The featured singers, who call themselves the Long Honeymoon, spend all their time quarrelling; an ex-GI bride waxes maudlin about her wartime heyday; the barman frets about the brewers' intention to turn the place into a disco.
The rambling tale depends on strong characters to hold it together, and the cast of six manage it beautifully. They include a black punk called Tarquin Eamon Walkera teddy-boy landlord Colen Marsh and Monica the singer the impressive Alison Limerickbursting with frustration, resentment and injured pride. The songs and dance-numbers fit into all this in a pretty rough-and-ready way, more like "turns" than dramatic high spots, but sheer energy keeps the thing going nicely.
Working class it is, with roots in WW2 and the sprawling estates, but set in the multiracial present and more and more a song-cycle-with-tableaux from Squeeze's East Side Story than a full-blown musical.
That's a minor criticism though, for it's crammed with classic Difford-Tilbrook songs, but their sheer number limits the dramatic action. The story of the pub band falling apart when their leader is lured off to the shampooey doom he mistakes for rock stardom, and the peripheral affairs, fights and reunions, will hopefully smooth away its few amateurish edges, but the energy and verve of the cast, especially the stunning song and dance routines from Alison Limerick last seen upstaging W Sleep in DashDanny John-Jules a dead ringer Apaga O Fogo Mané - Adoniran Barbosa - Raízes Do Samba No Problem 's Beastie and Eammon Walker, more than compensate.
Contributed by Venice Buhain. Back to Reviews Main Page.
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