Squire - Get Smart! - with special insert
Limited edition version of Get Smart! includes special bonus insert with additional sleeve notes.
Recorded in London and Los Angeles, this was Squire's most ambitious project, full of lush strings, horns, harpsichord, and piano as well as the usual guitar bass drums. In complete contrast to the white sleeved hand printed sparse/stripped down Fan Club album just a year earlier, this record celebrated the pop song in technicolor, with its vibrant sleeve, lyric insert and poster included! The album was mixed, half at Jacob's Studio (The Life, Jesamine etc) which brought out the British pop sensibilities and half at Ocean Way, L.A (Take A Look, You're The One etc) touched by the California sun. Ocean Way had previously been Western Recorders where The Beach Boys had recorded most of their songs, and still used the same echo chambers.
Released in 1983, Get Smart! was made when Squire returned to the live circuit after a sabbatic period. The album showed a more ellaborated production, and influences broadened after hours of listening to the LPs The Beach Boys "Today", The Beatles "Revolver" or The Byrds "Younger Than Yesterday". Sophisticated structures and vocal arrangements were brought in, and Meynell also added a high dose of Rickenbacker 12-string sounds. A horn section and a slightly psychedelic feel are present here and there, but the guys managed to keep the sound as fresh and fun as they are expected to.
To some extent, Get Smart was planned as the album where we gave ourselves permission to indulge our fantasy of being proper recording artistes. The album was conceived as a whole and planned out meticulously from demo stage to final master. The project had started with Kevin and Jon, recording simple demos of all the songs with handclaps and guitar at my house, later going to a rehearsal studio to arrange the horn parts, provided by Stuart Prosser of Rye & the Quarter Boys, who I'd met also selling his records into shops in Carnaby Street, like me!" - Anthony Meynell
A1 The Life
A2 It's Too Bad
A4 Take A Look
A5 When I Try, I Lie
A6 Standing In The Rain
B1 You're The One
B2 You Don't See Me
B3 Every Trick (In The Book Of Love)
B4 Stop That Girl!
B5 Get Smart!
B5 In A World Of My Own
When the Jam moved up from punk upstarts to mod statesmen in 1979, the British kids turned to other mod outfits to satisfy their craving for everything well-dressed and retro. While the Chords followed in the Jam's footsteps, the three other main contenders for the mod followed different musical paths: Secret Affair were a magical blend of punk, soul and pop with a mild dose of prog; the Lambrettas were straightforward power pop; and Squire were a mix of all of the above and more. In fact, if the mod scene hadn't existed, Squire would have still made brilliant, timeless records, no matter what was going on around them. While only releasing one full-fledged album (Get Smart!), singer/songwriter Anthony Meynell would embrace the '60s wholeheartedly while releasing a batch of singles that still managed to sound contemporary while exposing the many influences he wore on his sleeve. When Get Smart! was released in 1983, fans were astonished at the album's mixture of power pop, horn-soaked mod, Motown-influenced stompers and beautiful acoustic ballads. Meynell had already shown that he was able to write a catchy tune, but Get Smart! upped the ante ten-fold. Squire's sound had solidified under his guidance and the obvious nods to past heroes blended into the background while Meynell re-created mod and power pop in an age when synths ruled the airwaves. Every inch of this album is filled with melodic hooks, love-lorn lyrics, and an exuberance that was all but missing from music then and now. It's innocent and charming but also mature and commanding. It lacks the power chords that made the Jam hometown punk and mod heroes, but it's more immediate than much of Weller's pretentious posing. Meynell's songwriting is at its prime on Get Smart!: just listen to "It's Too Bad," "Take A Look," "Every Trick in the Book of Love," and "You Don't See Me" for proof. The album's mix of upbeat pop and midtempo ballads helps to keep the album flowing at a smooth pace, never standing still and becoming monotonous and boring. While the album does have a few tracks that are brighter than others, this is a brilliant example of an album as a whole. Remember the first time you heard Rubber Soul, Revolver, Headquarters, or All Mod Cons? Remember when it felt like one great complete piece of work and not a mix of various studio recordings? Well, Get Smart! is that and a whole lot more. It's pure brilliance in every sense of the word. Stephen SPAZ Schnee. All Music Guide