Movie Reviews

Glenn Tilbrook: One for the Road – Obviously He’s Never Seen a Chevy Chase Film…

I’ve been a huge fan of the band Squeeze for about as long as I can remember, particularly lead singer and songwriter Glenn Tilbrook. Any time they came to New York, I managed to see them in concert. One time I even ditched work early to meet up with Tilbrook and his partner Chris Difford when they were signing autographs at a local record store. The polaroid I took of me standing with them that day and the autographed CD cover are still in a frame near my desk.

Squeeze broke up several times (a temporary break took place in the 1980s, and it looked like they would never play together again in 1998). Tilbrook charted his own waters with a dedicated fanbase and website, offering up a solo album entitled The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook in 2001. To meet up with fans and support the album, Tilbrook toured the U.S. in an RV followed by fan-turned-documentarian Amy Pickard, cameraman Hans Fritz and manager/partner Suzanne Hunt.

The first hurdle is actually getting an RV. Tilbrook was under the impression that when he arrived in Buffalo, NY an RV would be waiting for him. Something went wrong with that idea and the entourage ends up in Baltimore trying to secure an alternate RV. However, the first stage of his tour ends up starting with the group driving around in a minivan. Eventually, he does end up back in Buffalo and finds a motorhome within his budget that will hold all four of them, a 1988 Cruisemaster.

So you have a musician, his manager, a cameraman, and a would-be documentarian traveling in a 15-year-old RV. Want to wager how long it takes before a problem crops up that they can’t solve? His partner has that “This was your stupid idea” look that so many wives get when their husband’s ideas backfire big time. Nice to know he can drive a woman as insane as “normal” husbands do.

Along the way, viewers are treated to Tilbrook in concert in clubs, Tilbrook doing interviews with radio stations via cell phone, Tilbrook visiting a Target store for the first time, and the group staying at campgrounds and meeting people in a personal way that most “rock stars” never do. He cooks, he cleans, he tries in vain to make repairs, and he wanders around in his pajamas. Most importantly, though, he connects with people. His personality shines through, although I expect the moments when his exasperation showed through might have been edited out.

One of the more poignant moments happens when Glenn hears of George Harrison’s death and his reaction to it. It’s obvious it has impacted him and he talks about it at the show later that night.

The events that take place in the documentary are serenaded by acoustic versions of various songs written by Tilbrook, either as part of Squeeze or his solo efforts. Some of the songs featured are:

Goodbye Girl
Is That Love
Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
Up The Junction
Black Coffee in Bed
Third Rail
By The Light of the Cash Machine
When the Hangover Strikes

It’s amazing how many of the fans can sing along with Tilbrook after all these years. Many of the songs are more than twenty years old, yet the fans still know the lyrics by heart.

I really have to give him credit that he would get in a vehicle as unfamiliar and imposing as an RV and travel around a strange country. I can’t imagine he’s driven that much in the U.S. before, although he probably saw a lot out of the windows of buses previously. Part of it is just his personality. He seems so bubbly and optimistic, even in the face of things going wrong. It’s easy to understand the uplifting bounce so much of the music he’s written has had over the years after viewing this.

The production is pretty good, considering for the most part it’s an amateur production. It does seem more like a home movie at times, and that seems to me fine for it being really a video diary of this type of tour. A sleek tour with lots of limousines and fancy buses would warrant a fancy production. The way he has chosen to support this album really lent itself to a home-style production and I thought captured more of the flavor of the experience.

Fans of Squeeze will probably adore this. I caught part of it on VH1 and had to see the entire thing. I will probably add it to my DVD collection as it’s something I would enjoy watching. As one fan makes the observation: they put a blonde on stage with twenty male dancers behind her and call them a success, while guys like this who have talent can’t get a deal.

So true, so true…


” Commentary by Glenn Tilbrook
” Commentary by Director Amy Pickard
” Amy’s 1991 Squeeze Interview for Dayton, OH Public Access Show
” Chris Difford Interview
” Tokyo Screening Q & A from August of 2005

1 reply »

  1. I had never heard of this!! Thank you!! I am going to seek this out! Squeeze are one of the most under-appreciated bands! Such great music and Up The Junction is great but Labelled with Love just gets better with age!!

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