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Prefab Sprout - Album by Album discussion*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Eleventh Earl of Mar, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    [​IMG]

    I've wanted to start this for months...

    But it wasn't going to happen until I had at least a year, making sure it wasn't a phase. I love this group so much.

    The plan for now -

    Avalon/early Prefab Sprout context
    The first singles
    Swoon
    Steve Mcqueen
    From Langley Park To Memphis
    Protest Songs
    Jordan: The Comeback
    1992 singles
    Andromeda Heights
    The Gunman
    I Trawl the Megahertz
    Let's Change the World With Music
    Crimson Red
    ALL b-sides from each record by release date save for Life of Surprises - the 1989 configuration is the most common version

    Q and A

    Q - Paddy McAloon's solo records count?
    A - The band name has more or less become whatever work he releases, and it keeps things simpler

    Q - Demos/Unreleased
    A - Probably will be contained either during the song's discussion or after the wrap up

    Q - Music written for other artists
    A - Not entirely 100%, need opinions on that
     
  2. joe1320

    joe1320 Forum Resident

    Location:
    dublin, ireland
    Great idea long lived Paddy's music but lost touch after Andromeda Heights.
    Looking forward to rediscovering his songs.
     
    Ryan Lux likes this.
  3. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    I strongly recommend reading this wonderful document of Paddy's first job courtesy of Sproutology

    The Avalon Story - Sproutology

    The comments here suggest even in the 70s and before his self admission, Paddy was a songwriter before anything else, which I find incredibly honest to lean into as a person who easily could of made a job of sessions and touring as a guitarist
     
  4. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Love them. I’m in!
     
  5. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    There's a lot to look into in terms of Prefab Sprout in the period where they toured with no releases - that said considering the murkines of most of what is around, I'll leave you one of Wendy's top 10 tracks, and her first vocal for the band from 1981




    1980 setlist - June 29 1980

    01. Touch and Go
    02. Spinning Belinda
    03. Faron Young
    04. Tin Can Pot
    05. Donna Summer
    06. Strange Silhouettes

    Durham Domefest: June 29th, 1980 - Sproutology

    April 1981 - Tom Minney's Party

    01. Vendetta
    02. Runaway Train
    03. The Mortimer Family
    04. Radio Love
    05. Faith Cowboys
    06. Geography
    07. Here on the Eerie
    08. Faron Young
    09. Ghost Town Blues
    10. Spinning Belinda
    11. Dandy Of The Danube
    12. Tin Can Pot
    13. Technique

    A lot of performances from 80-81 are documented - other songs performed around this time or demoed that would get released on or after the first album

    Green Isaac
    I Never Play Basketball Now
    Couldn't Bear To Be Special
    Talking Scarlet
    Bonny
    Hallelujah

    Wendy performed with the band in 1982 before forming the 3 primary members for the Swoon era, drummer Michael Salmon was their touring drummer (all the time?) plus on the two singles we're getting to very shortly. I plan on discussing the songs per release date, the above is mostly context for just how long Paddy would keep a song around if you didn't already know.

    If anyone has anecdotes or context I missed for the no singles/record era - do a better job than I did :D
     
  6. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Lions in My Own Garden: Exit Someone

    [​IMG]

    1983 Kitchenware Reissue

    [​IMG]

    Paddy on the song

     
  7. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Dreamer of Tangerines

    Location:
    Shrewsbury
    Great band! I really should have put Paddy in the list of top notch British melodists.
     
    Scatterling of Africa likes this.
  8. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    One of the top 20 tracks they did - this one has such a raw, post punk kind of sound to it. Martin is already a presence, and lyrically it's just tragic, with the swapping of "she's singing the blues" at the start to "he's" at the end. An absolute killer first song, honestly.

    5/5

    This one seems to be in copyright hell in the US - here's the 85 touring lineup killing it

     
  9. Make69

    Make69 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Finland
    Great thread! Been a fan since around 1989. I still have not met another fan from Finland. Prefab Sprout is in my top 5 of all time bands, and Paddy is one of the best songwriters. "Cars and girls", when it was just released, in some music video TV program was my first encounter with the band. "Lions" song took some time to rub on me, but I agree it is a good song. I got this on the later The Early Years EP. I like all the nice chord changes and many things, that happen arrangement wise. Even the harmonica.
     
    PhR, spindly and kouzie like this.
  10. Andrewb

    Andrewb Claiming squatter's rights

    Location:
    UK
    Bought the Kitchenware release of LIMOGES on both 7" and the later released 12" which also contained their next single. This song fitted in very well with the type of indie music I was listening to at this time. Love the lofi aesthetic, the sparseness of the production which also sounds quite lush in a rough-round-the-edges kind of way with the harmonica and glockenspiel(?), but also Paddy's lyrical articulacy which is evident from the off.

    Although it was safe to assume this debut track wasn't going to bother the pop charts it was nonetheless a very strong calling card from a songwriter with some talent - although just how much talent was still to be made clear with release of the debut album.

    One of their best singles and an enduring favourite as far as I'm concerned.
     
  11. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Radio Love



    From a 1981 journalism piece Mal Armstrong, Helter Skelter - February 1981 - Sproutology

    B-side to Lions - has not been reissued since the first time, the first of tons of songs that never got out of this decade
     
  12. Andrewb

    Andrewb Claiming squatter's rights

    Location:
    UK
    This song makes more sense to me since we had the I Trawl The Megahertz album. Along with the piece you quoted above it kind of explains how that album came about and that Paddy's love of radio was a longstanding thing, not just something he got into out of necessity when he suffered his bout of sight loss.

    With its short wave radio samples this song and the recording itself has a strange, slightly eerie "late night" quality to it. I remember playing it a few times on buying the single but have only just now played it again after many years thanks to this thread and remembering I quite like it. A decent b-side for sure.
     
    Scatterling of Africa and kouzie like this.
  13. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Senior Member

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Lions - such a strange track but really grows on you. Paddy's love of harmonica (sadly synth these days), harmonic curveballs and over-my-head lyrics are all there. Great tune! At the same time, this was the 1st single?
     
    Lars1966 likes this.
  14. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Radio Love - prefer it to Radio Gaga, not as good as The Spirit of Radio

    Jokes aside, a nice little track I have some affinity for even being born after it was all commercialized - still love finding a sound I haven't heard before

    The Devil Has All The Best Tunes

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]



    1984 interview, P McAloon

    Only available on LP - I don't think it's been reissued since 88.
     
  15. Andrewb

    Andrewb Claiming squatter's rights

    Location:
    UK
    The Devil Has All The Best Tunes
    Paradoxically not a tune you might hear the postman whistling while he's delivering your mail. Far too unorthodox musically and lyrically for that to happen though a few lines do stand out from the rest. I admit though that I don't have a clue what this song is about. Paddy would need to exercise more discipline and employ a more conventional structure to his writing if he wanted to achieve chart success. Oh, and it's one of those songs where the title isn't as it's sung in the lyrics. Still, as someone who admires the early indie sound of Prefab Sprout I like this single a great deal and was surprised it wasn't included on the 38 Carat Collection given that the hype sticker on said collection stated it includes "ALL the singles".
     
    kouzie likes this.
  16. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Walk On



    January 1984?

    Actually much prefer this song. Right now I can't think of a ton to say about Devil, but it's more I need to give more proper listens of a few obscurities - I can write paragraphs on stuff that's related to Andromeda Heights, those 5 songs make a nice little EP, not sure why, but it will be good for later - Walk On sounds like a classic that got buried along the way. The lyrics could use a once over, but it's got such good feeling going on with Wendy providing the contrast in the chorus with a upfront bass riff that sounds incredibly under produced, but wonderfully of the indie sound of it's time

    I misrembered, this song is also on LP only - but soon the excellent Radio Love gets a CD issue on this comp Various Artists Sun Shines Here: Roots Of Indie Pop 1980-1984 / Various [Import] United Kingdom - Import on ImportCDs
     
  17. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    I'll be doing my write up on Swoon tonight and start going track for track tomorrow

    Idols? To who?!

    [​IMG]
     
  18. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    Prefab Sprout are one of my all-time favourite groups. They peaked early, imo, but all of their albums have at least one or two buried gems. Paddy really needs to start releasing some of those lost albums.

    The early singles are interesting, but for me, they're not much more than handsome gestures towards Swoon's glorious deconstructions of song forms.

    Looking forward to the rest of this thread!
     
  19. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Swoon

    [​IMG]

    Track listing

    1. "Don't Sing" 3:53
    2. "Cue Fanfare" 4:06
    3. "Green Isaac" 3:31
    4. "Here on the Eerie" 4:00
    5. "Cruel" 4:20
    6. "Couldn't Bear to Be Special" 3:49
    7. "I Never Play Basketball Now" 3:40
    8. "Ghost Town Blues" 3:21
    9. "Elegance" 3:45
    10. "Technique" 4:38
    11. "Green Isaac II" 1:25

    (from liner notes)
    Paddy McAloon – composition, instruments
    Martin McAloon – instruments (
    Wendy Smith – instruments
    Graham Lant - drums




    Emma Welles... haha
     
  20. DirkM

    DirkM Forum Resident

    Location:
    MA, USA
    Swoon isn't their most consistent album, but when it's on, it's ON. Everyone talks about the first five tracks on Steve McQueen, but for me, the first five songs on Swoon are an even more impressive collection of offbeat lyrical ideas, messy inspiration, and delicious snatches of melody that no one else would have ever dreamed of writing.

    I seem to recall reading that Paddy hates the sound of Swoon, but I love its stuttering rawness, the way it sounds more like a demo than their later, more polished studio confections. Everyone seems just shy of playing together as a perfect unit, and this tension is the perfect backdrop for the sprawling songs. One of my favourite Sprout moments is the awkward descending musical figure in Cue Fanfare, where the rhythm section seems to have no idea what they're doing...and then, as if to prove that they COULD play as a perfect unit if it served the song, they give us those perfect instrumental passages in the appropriately-named Technique.

    A brilliant album, and one that's always a delight to hear.
     
    kiddo4, steviebee, milco and 2 others like this.
  21. PhilipB

    PhilipB Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    How have I missed this thread!! I love Prefab Sprout so much and have done since I first discovered them about five years ago. I became obsessed with the much-maligned "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" and (according to my last.fm) have listened to it over 800 times since, and have grown to love pretty much all of the catalogue with one or two exceptions. Look forward to reading the discussion.
     
    spindly likes this.
  22. Andrewb

    Andrewb Claiming squatter's rights

    Location:
    UK
    Walk On
    This is more like it! Light and breezy. And it even has a charming little guitar solo that ends before it really gets started - the only song of the four reviewed so far to contain one, I believe. These four cuts were also collected for a 12" vinyl EP. There's a rawness/naive innocence to these four songs which showed the band were not yet fully developed but had great future potential.
     
  23. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    Don't Sing

    [​IMG]



    Rockin On - September 1986

     
    Scatterling of Africa likes this.
  24. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far. Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York
    This took me awhile to warm up to - lyrically it was difficult to make anything of it before I read up more on the track specifically. Definitely a good opener that immediately shows off Martin's talents and an excellent little detail with the synth chords right after rob me of colour, make me sound duller, this album was weird for single choices I'll admit, then again I suppose there's an argument nothing here qualifies, not a highlight from Swoon but it's certainly enjoyable
     
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  25. Make69

    Make69 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Finland
    Thanks for the video! I have never seen this one before. Just another proof that the 80's wasn't really too burdened with the "new" music video format, as was the concern in those days. Although I never imagined the band singing this song a windy beach. "Don't sing" video has the social distancing thing going on..;). I love "Swoon" album, and this song too. I have always liked the stranger songs too. In the early days, when Paddy used his more energetic voice at times, those worked really fine. I used to think think that the looseness of the songs of this period was a negative thing, but not anymore. In fact the looseness is a fine contrast with the delicate songs structures, the rhythms, vocal lines and chordings. I like analysing the lyrics, but for these songs I have felt it is sometimes enough just to live with the appearance they give.
     
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