There are few surprises on A Round and A Bout, the first-ever live album from one of Britain’s most popular alternative bands, recorded at two U.K. concerts in January. Everything sounds clean and precise, even lead singer Glenn Tilbrook’s rare (but always friendly) remarks to what sound like large and eager crowds.
All of Squeeze’s familiar strengths and weaknesses are in evidence. The songs are neatly crafted. They also can be glib. Blues, which ought to sound gritty, could hardly be the greatest strength of a band most famous for its immaculate sound; Squeeze plays blues anyway. If you’re a fan, you doubtless won’t mind, especially since on CD you’re getting 15 songs (14 on the cassette tape), adding up to well over an hour of music. ”Black Coffee in Bed,” ”Hour Glass,” ”Annie Get Your Gun” — most of your favorites are here.
In Britain you can buy this album in a special LP version, with a bonus single (”Packet of Three,” from 1977) included in a re-creation of its original packaging. Dedicated U.S. fans might want to search for the special edition in stores that carry imports. It’s just the kind of extra touch this likable but routine collection needs.