January 1999

Squeeze - East Side Story (Remastered)
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 739
Originally released: 1981
Remaster released: 1998

by Marc Mickelson

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on Gold CD]What more can be said about Squeeze’s East Side Story, the effervescent and diverse apex of post-Beatles English pop (along with the band’s own Argybargy and XTC’s Skylarking and Oranges & Lemons, that is)? It has three credited producers (Roger Bechirian, Elvis Costello, and Dave Edmunds) and one bona fide commercial success, the song "Tempted," perhaps the band’s most recognizable tune and one Burger King used in a national TV ad campaign. East Side Story just belongs in your collection, especially if you share a wry sense of humor with Squeeze’s songwriting backbone of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.

Mobile Fidelity now gives you a reason to renew your relationship with East Side Story because it’s been remastered with the company’s GAIN 2 system. Sonically, it’s a perfect candidate for the MoFi treatment -- an ill-defined and distant underachiever that deserves to have its music dug out of the master tape. MoFi delivers, not so much transforming the recording but rather revealing its full personality for the first time. There’s more presence than on the standard-issue CD and also a real bottom end, which is a great benefit to the bouncy pop on East Side Story. The remaster just sounds more real and involving -- voices have more body and cymbals less artificial splashiness and more of a metallic tinge.

There’s so much to admire about the music. If the infectious melodies won’t start your toe tapping, the inventiveness and narrative flow of the lyrics, most in third person, will engage you. And these traits carry from song to song, no obvious clunkers here. "Tempted" and "Messed Around" are recognizable, but the bittersweet, countrified, utterly perfect "Labelled with Love" has always made me hit the repeat button. Enhanced by the jump-cut intro from the song "F-hole" which precedes it, "Labelled with Love" soaks in lament, makes you want to drink from the bottle.

Call it preservation or resurrection, but the work that Mobile Fidelity has done on East Side Story is unattainable via mere equipment upgrades. To me, there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that I’m listening to the definitive version of music I love, and like the many posh remastered movies on DVD, Mobile Fidelity’s East Side Story is for the connoisseur as well as the fan.