Before you are issued with a licence to become a London taxicab driver, you have to pass The Knowledge, a rigorous test of the driver’s familiarity with a number of pre-set London street routes and places of interest. A London cabbie will know how to get in and out of traffic jams, the shortest route, the most scenic route, and so on. It might seem like your driver is taking you on a circuitous route, but you know you’ll get there, because your driver has The Knowledge. Similarly, ‘The Knowledge’, from Squeeze, takes a rather winding route from the opening song, ‘Innocence In Paradise’, to final song, ‘Two Forks’, but we get there in the end.
A 12 track album which nicely picks up where ‘Cradle To The Grave’ justify off in 2015, ‘The Knowledge’, from Squeeze, sets the band firmly back on track, in preparation for their forthcoming UK tour.
‘The Knowledge’ has so much to give. Opening with the gently rocky ‘Innocence In Paradise’, and then the up-tempo ‘Patchouli’, it’s as much a journey through life as through the the album. With track titles such as ‘A&E’ (which reminds us of ‘Up The Junction’ in its look at everyday life – in this case in the A&E department of a hospital), ‘Rough Ride’, ‘Departure Lounge’, and ‘Final Score’, we’re given the feeling that we’re looking at someone’s life, but just like taking a London cab, it’s not necessarily a direct route: the life story happens in the middle of the album. Having said that however, as much as ‘The Knowledge’ is a concept album, each song is good enough to stand alone on its own merits.
‘Albatross’ with its “clickety-clack” rhythms and harmonies feels familiar, there’s a 60s vibe about it, while ‘The Ones’ is a slow funk track with an almost tropical feel.
There is something for everyone on ‘The Knowledge’; fast-paced tracks, jazzy numbers, even an instrumental, ‘Elmers End’, which sounds exactly like the actual location as the terminus for Croydon’s trams: you’re enjoying the ride but you know you’re coming to the end.
And the end, ‘Two Forks’, is brilliant. Great lyrics like “We’re tossed up like salad, two forks of our life”, and “Our tastes are so different, we’re so far apart, but we’re joined together, have been from the start” are multi-layered gems, simplistic until you realise it’s about life: no matter what the ups and downs, so long as we stick at it, it all works out in the end.
‘The Knowledge’ is out tomorrow, 13 October, and available here. Squeeze are currently on tour across the UK:
13th Oct – Bristol Colston Hall
14th Oct – Leicester De Montfort Hall
16th Oct – Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre
17th Oct – Guildford G Live
19th Oct – Ipswich Regent
20th Oct – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
21st Oct – London Indigo At The O2
23rd Oct – Reading Hexagon
24th Oct – Southend Cliffs Pavilion
26th Oct – Sheffield City Hall
27th Oct – Cambridge Corn Exchange
28th Oct – Harrogate International Centre
30th Oct – Manchester Bridgewater Hall
31st Oct – Edinburgh Usher Hall
2nd Nov – Gateshead Sage
3rd Nov – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
4th Nov – Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
6th Nov – London Royal Albert Hall