"Up the Junction" was the third single released from Squeeze's second album, Cool for Cats. It is one of the band's most popular and well-remembered songs (especially in the UK), and reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart. It is quite notable for not having a chorus.
Up the Junction is a collection of short stories by Nell Dunn, first published in 1963. Lyricist Chris Difford said that the title phrase was lifted from the 1965 TV playversion of the work, directed by Ken Loach, and the subsequent 1968 movie version. (see Up the Junction). The film had a soundtrack by Manfred Mann, and a song by them, titled 'Up the Junction' Although the song is not derived, it includes several parallels to the drama:
- Portrayal of daily life in Clapham area (the song begins "I never thought it would happen with me and the girl from Clapham")
- "Junction" refers to Clapham Junction
- Colloquial working-class language
- The subject of pregnancy.
Chris Difford wrote the lyrics in New Orleans while Squeeze were on tour. Difford passed the lyrics to Glen Tilbrook who then wrote the music. The song is well known for its use of half-rhymes, such as "ready" and "telly" or "kitchen" and "missing". The title is not sung until the final line.
The band made a tongue-in-cheek performance of "Up the Junction" on British chart show Top of the Pops in which band members play the 'wrong instrument', with singer Glenn Tilbrook drumming and Jools Holland (normally pianist) making minimal attempts to look at all proficient at the guitar.
The song is briefly heard playing on a hairdressers radio in the 1982 film Brimstone and Treacle and its official soundtrack album. It also appears in the TV seriesBreaking Bad, in the season five episode Gliding Over All.
"Up the Junction" has been covered by a number of artists:
- Lawnmower Deth on their third album, Billy
- The Decemberists during numerous live performances
- Jim Bob on his Busker EP
- Lily Allen for a Yahoo! Music performance
- The View on their single "Superstar Tradesman"
- Goldfinger for their Teen Beef split 7" with Reel Big Fish for Mojo Records
- Travis on a number of occasions.
- The Bad Shepherds with Adrian Edmondson do a folk influenced cover of the song on their album Yan, Tyan, Tethera, Metheral
- Every Dirty Street have been known to perform it live.
- Jonathan Coulton during his 2009 UK tour.
- The Hotrats on their covers album Turn Ons
- They Might Be Giants on the Jonathan Ross BBC Radio 2 show on 26 June 2010.
- The Shins for Levi's Pioneer Recording Sessions.
- Cats Against The Bomb perform a live version of the song substituting Clapham for the word Clacton.
- The Duckworth Lewis Method on the Sunday with Miriam RTE Radio 1 show on 24 November 2013.
The song was also reworked by co-writer Difford on his 2006 acoustic album South East Side Story.
- "Up the Junction" (3:10)
- "It's So Dirty" (3:10)