Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)

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"Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)"
Squeeze pulling mussels cover.jpg
Single by Squeeze
from the album Argybargy
B-side "What The Butler Saw"
Released 9 May 1980
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1979
Genre Rock, new wave
Length 3:58
Label A&M
Songwriter(s) Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook
Producer(s) John Wood, Squeeze
Squeeze singles chronology
"If I Didn't Love You"
"Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)"
"Farfisa Beat"
"If I Didn't Love You"
"Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)"
"Farfisa Beat"
Argybargy track listing
Audio sample

"Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" is a song by the band Squeeze. First released on the 1980 album Argybargy, it received positive critical reviews, peaked at No. 44 on the UK Singles Chart, and became one of Squeeze's most popular songs. The song is about one of the band members' experiences at a holiday camp.


The song "Pulling Mussels" was written by band members Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.[1] According to critic Chris Woodstra, it is an "observation of the British working class" and "offers a series of detailed snapshots of the different walks of life on a seaside holiday in Leysdown on Sea."[2]

The lyrics are based on Difford's own experiences. Rob Sachs interviewed Difford and wrote that the song "is about a memory he has from his time spent at a British holiday camp in, a budget resort type of place that includes basic accommodations, entertainment, and other facilities."[3]

The lines "They do it down on Camber Sands / They do it at Waikiki" refer to a sand dune system in East Sussex, England, and the Honolulu, Hawaii beach, respectively.[4] The phrase "pulling mussels" is British slang for sexual intercourse, mainly used in England.[5]

The song features piano playing by keyboardist Jools Holland.[6]


"Pulling Mussels" was released as the first track on Squeeze's album Argybargy in February 1980. The 7" single was released in April 1980 with the B-side "What the Butler Saw".[7]

The song has also been included on several of Squeeze's compilation albums, such as Singles – 45's and Under, Greatest Hits, and The Big Squeeze – The Very Best of Squeeze.[7] It was re-recorded for the 2010 album Spot the Difference.[8] A live version was included on A Round and a Bout.[7]


Critical reception[edit]

"Pulling Mussels" received positive reviews from music critics. It has been variously described as "a timeless cult classic", "a brilliant slice of pop genius", "a pop classic of the new wave era", and "a piece of pop mastery".[2][7][9][10] In 2007, Anna Borg wrote, "The build up before the chorus always gets me, even 25 years later."[11] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine described the song as "a vivid portrait of a seaside vacation where Difford's vignettes are made all the more vivid by Tilbrook's bright, invigorating pop."[12] It is regarded as one of Squeeze's catchiest songs.[13]

Chart performance[edit]

The single debuted on the UK chart at No. 52 on 10 May 1980. It stayed on the chart for six weeks, peaking at No. 44 on 24 May.[14]

Though the song did not chart in the United States, it became a hit on the country's college radio stations and in new wave clubs.[15]

Live performances[edit]

"Pulling Mussels" is a "crowd favorite" at Squeeze concerts.[16] The band performed the song on Saturday Night Live on 20 November 1982.[4] They played the song at concerts during the 1980s and early 1990s.[13][16] In 2001, it was the finale of a Glenn Tilbrook show in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States.[17] Squeeze played "Pulling Mussels" last during concerts in 2010.[18][19]

Track listing[edit]

7-inch vinyl[7]

  1. "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)"
  2. "What The Butler Saw"


Chart (1980) Peak
UK Singles[14] 44


  1. ^ "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b All Music Guide to Rock (2002). Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 1065.
  3. ^ Sachs, Rob (2010). What Would Rob Do? John Wiley and Sons. pp. 38–39.
  4. ^ a b Mann, Brent (2005). Blinded by the Lyrics. Citadel Press. p. 39.
  5. ^ Riley, Tim (1999). Hard Rain. Da Capo Press. p. 210.
  6. ^ Digital Audio and Compact Disc Review (1985). WGE Pub. p. 44.
  7. ^ a b c d e Strong, Martin Charles (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Canongate U.S.
  8. ^ "Spot the Difference – Squeeze". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  9. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Glenn Tilbrook". MTV. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  10. ^ The Rough Guide to Rock (2003). Rough Guides. p. 999.
  11. ^ Borack, John M. (2007). Shake Some Action. PowerPop. p. 81.
  12. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Argybargy – Squeeze". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  13. ^ a b Pareles, Jon. "Rock: Squeeze, At Garden". The New York Times. 17 November 1987. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  14. ^ a b "Chart Stats – Squeeze – Pulling Mussels". chartstats.com. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  15. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Squeeze". AllMusic. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  16. ^ a b Augusto, Troy J. "Squeeze". Variety. 1 December 1993. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  17. ^ Damas, Jason. "Glenn Tilbrook". PopMatters. 15 November 2001. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  18. ^ Larsen, Peter. "Squeeze still a sharp blast from the past in L.A.". ocregister.com. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  19. ^ Perry, Andrew. "Squeeze, Hard Rock Café, London, review". The Daily Telegraph. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2011.