Mondeo Pop Month: Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From A Shell)
Released: May 1980
UK chart position: #44
From the album: Argybargy
Squeeze have an awkward relationship with members of my generation. Things we know about Squeeze:
- Jools Holland (insert your own tiny pianist/webbed feet/fucking twat gags references here) used to be in them.
- They did the song “Cool for Cats”, which was later used in an advert for milk when they’d stopped it with the Accrington Stanley zingers.
- They sang “Up The Junction” which, for a period of time, Chris Evans claimed was his favourite song ever, and thus got rinsed on Virgin Radio between 1997 and 1999
- During Paul Carrack’s failed attempt at becoming the British Michael McDonald, he helmed Squeeze for a bit
- One of them killed himself
- That’s it
“Pulling Mussels (From A Shell)” is, to me, the first Mondeo Pop In Capital Letters track. Squeeze had earlier hits for sure: “Cool For Cats” and “Up The Junction”, namely. And although Mondeo Pop is, by turns, novelty and sincere, “Cool For Cats” is too novelty, and “Up The Junction” is too sincere to qualify. Mondeo Pop is a genre of subtlety, remember.
Mondeo Pop’s apogee was The Beautiful South so, to find where the genre came from, we probably need to draw lines directly back. One of The BS’s main traits was the disguising of unpleasant stuff in pleasant, near-bland tunes: alcoholism in “Old Red Eyes Is Back”, adultery in “Don’t Marry Her”, body dysmorphia in “Perfect Ten” and that one about tits. Here, Squeeze have disguised a song about cunnilingus in some radio-friendly camouflage, whilst referring to the clitoris as a “mussel”.
The holiday theme of the song is important: we’ve said it before, Mondeo Pop is a celebration of the working man’s ability to make it through the day, and where else does a man find that reward other than on holiday? Camber Sands with a Harold Robbins paperback, rather than Monaco rocking Kerouac: it’s an office drone holiday, the holiday of someone who has stumbled through his paperwork and is now going to spend one week reading “The Carpetbaggers” in 17 degree temperature before eating some pussy. And this is the track to remind him of it when back in Slough, Dunstable or Didcot.