Author Topic: Prefab Sprout  (Read 2167 times)

TheMonk

  • Hello folks
Prefab Sprout
« on: July 07, 2021, 11:24:50 AM »
I don’t know much about them other than remembering When Love Breaks Down and Cars And Girls, both of which I quite like.
I thought I’d investigate and saw their most popular song on Apple Music is The King Of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Never heard it. This might be odd, I dunno, but I haven’t. Hit play. What manner of evil is this? Possibly the most shit song I’ve ever heard. And I can’t get the bastard out of my head. It’s ruining my sleep.
Hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque?
What is going on? How was this popular?

I hate it so much I refuse to listen to anymore Prefab Sprout. And it’s coloured my enjoyment of those other two songs. Should I investigate further? Is there something I’m missing about that song?
What’s the deal with Prefab Sprout?

Thanks for your help.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2021, 11:32:30 AM »
Steve McQueen and I Trawl the Megahertz are both worth a try, if you like the former it's worth checking out some of their other albums if you like the latter it's a bit of a dead end.


The King of Rock and Roll is an absolutelly turgid song. It's not quite as bad as Temptation by Heaven 17 for getting stuck in my head to the point I start having panic attacks but it's not far off.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2021, 11:46:56 AM »
King of Rock'n'Roll is one of those songs that starts as a novelty song but gradual appreciation of the band's subtlety, humour, and strength reels in and gives you enough leeway to understand where Paddy's head might have been at when he wrote it. Maybe one day you admit you even enjoy it. My mum used to sing it to me when I was very young so it is braintape for over 30 years. Only recently did I learn that it is about something, and potentially even self-mocking.

It also helps that I just love Thomas Dolby, who produced it.

But yeah, listen to Steve McQueen for the straight-up pop titans and listen around until KoRnR reveals its secrets in your ear.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2021, 12:11:41 PM by sevendaughters »

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2021, 11:52:27 AM »
King of Rock 'n' Roll has some great lyrics, as do most Sprout records:

"All my lazy teenage boasts
Are now high precision ghosts
And they're coming 'round the track to haunt me"

I mean, come on

Steve McQueen is the big one for standard Sprout but Swoon and Jordan: The Comeback are pretty great as well.

I Trawl the Megahertz is fucking amazing. I think it was initially released as a Paddy McAloon solo album but on re-release got badged with the Prefab Sprout name to make it more saleable. It is an beautiful piece of classical/ambient music with some poppy elements in the second half. When I want to lie down and relax and be overwhelmed by some music it is the first thing I think of

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2021, 11:53:51 AM »
one of the slightly offputting things about I Trawl The Megahertz (which I love) is that Sam Hyde of fascist comedy review Milliondollarextreme has enthused about this record to his legion of minions and now they dominate a lot of online chat below the line about it.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2021, 11:56:07 AM »
Is it because they identify with "I'm 49, divorced..."

Neomod

  • What's it Called . . . Cumbernauld!
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2021, 12:06:03 PM »
There's so much other music out there so why bother.

Apart from the fact Paddy MacAloon is one of the UK's best songwriters.

I think it's the production of From Langley Park that many are offended by but it's of it's time and the quality shines through.

As far as recommendations there's something good on every album but yeah, Steve McQueen is choc full of classics so if that doesn't float your bateau, move along.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2021, 02:55:51 PM by Neomod »

Chollis

  • Master of Codes
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2021, 12:18:46 PM »
King of Rock'n'Roll is great. cheers

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2021, 12:23:18 PM »
King of Rock 'n' Roll has some great lyrics, as do most Sprout records:

"All my lazy teenage boasts
Are now high precision ghosts
And they're coming 'round the track to haunt me"

Was just going to say that, it's one of my favourite lines ever and creeps into your head as you get older.

The song might mean more to you with context.

Quote
The song is about a one-hit wonder stuck performing his silly novelty song on the nostalgia circuit forever.

He keeps mentioning he's the king of rock n roll completely, clearly implying a link to his status at the time his song was in its infancy / prime. He also states now his rhythm ain't so hot but its the only friend he's got - again talking about how he's stuck in this loop because his limited success is what he's reliant on.

Again his reference to all the pretty birds have flown and his dancing on his own also supports the idea he's been doing this for some time and his audience is now a different one to what it once was.

I believe the constant singing of Hot dog, jumping frog, albuquerque is hammering home the repitition involved in his performances and how its the same loop over and over.

KOR&R, WLBD and Bonny are amazing songs.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2021, 12:39:07 PM by Better Midlands »

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2021, 12:30:42 PM »
Also the Future Sound Of London mix of If You Don't Love Me is lovely - in a similar vein to Papua New Guinea.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2021, 12:35:20 PM »
Bonny is lovely.

When I was young I bracketed them in with Deacon Blue for some reason. Wasn't until about five years ago I noticed how good they were.

Neomod

  • What's it Called . . . Cumbernauld!
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2021, 12:44:45 PM »
Paddy's work is good enough for pop titans to sing too.

Kylie Minogue If You Don't Love Me
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHNaqfhHRMg

Cher The Gunman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0SklOhUOcY

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2021, 12:50:50 PM »
I remember at the time really liking the McAloon-penned song 'Cowboy Dreams' when Jimmy Nail had a hit with it. Thankfully, I later found out Prefab Sprout had recording a version too, ensuring my collection remains Nail-free.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2021, 02:44:38 PM »
Steve McQueen is a great album.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2021, 03:17:03 PM »
Prefab Sprout:

Swoon - the endearingly ramshackle, self-consciously eccentric debut album. It's all over the place but it's hugely enjoyable.

Steve McQueen - enter Thomas Dolby, the perfect arranger and producer for Paddy's songs. The roughness of the debut album is replaced with gorgeously well thought out arrangements for a brilliant selection of songs. It's their best album.

From Langley Park To Memphis - brilliant songs, yes, but horridly dated production by all the producers involved who aren't Thomas Dolby. The DX7 nightmare that is "Nightingales" takes a beautiful song and drags it out of the sky. "The King Of Rock And Roll" is terrific, no further questions will be taken at this time.

Protest Songs - Hmm. Recorded before Langley Park but released afterwards. A couple of Paddy's best ever songs ("Pearly Gates", "A Life Of Surprises") and some rather more throwaway moments ("Diana"), it's a mixed bag that feels more like the follow up to Swoon rather than Steve McQueen.

Jordan: The Comeback. Rockets out of the gate but loses momentum pretty seriously about 40 minutes in. All of the strange and wonderful eccentricity of Paddy's early work is permanently silenced here, and there's a bit too much pastiche, which is going to be A Problem going forward. "The Wedding March" is unlistenable. However, up to that point it's a multifaceted jewel.

Andromeda Heights: Smooth to the point of banality. Adorned with sampled strings and brass that sounded dated on release. Again, where's Thomas? Not one I go back to much, to be honest.

The Gunman And Other Stories: Lavishly produced but sadly the songs are lacking. "Cornfield Ablaze" is the best thing here but someone needs to make Paddy stop writing 50 songs about one thing and picking the 10 best. "Farmyard Cat" seems to be the fanbase's least favourite PS song ever; it's actually quite charming.

I Trawl The Megahertz: Paddy's second masterpiece. I wouldn't wish the circumstances of its creation on anyone but, fuck me, what a victory torn from the jaws of defeat.

Let's Change The World With Music: Considering this is Paddy's home demo, made with ancient samples, it's impressively put together, so it would be churlish to complain about it sounding dated. There are a couple of great songs here ("God Watch Over You", "Ride") but there's a nagging blandness about the rest of it.

Crimson/Red: The best Prefab Sprout album since Jordan. Yes, there's a mawkishness to some of the lyrics, and the production isn't terrific, but it sounds much better than LCTWWM. "Adolescence" is one of the best songs Paddy's ever written.

TheMonk

  • Hello folks
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2021, 04:50:12 PM »
Thank you all. I will delve in further.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2021, 04:54:36 PM »
Swoon is one of my favourite albums. It's great! Start there, I'd say.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2021, 04:56:42 PM »
I like McAloon as a pop analyst. He'd have probably been a good music prof or journalist in another life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V33HXaEPFg

non capisco

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Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2021, 05:27:58 PM »
King of Rock 'n' Roll has some great lyrics, as do most Sprout records:
"All my lazy teenage boasts
Are now high precision ghosts
And they're coming 'round the track to haunt me"

Is "most boss lyrics in a song you don't like" worth a thread in itself? Those lines really threw me for a loop when King Of Rock 'N' Roll cropped up on the TOTP repeats, they're amazing. Still think the record itself is really cloying from a sonic perspective, it actually sounds like a waddling toy town frog which they/Dolby did well to capture if that's what they were going for but it's not my thing at all. Unlike some of their other stuff like 'Faron Young' which I do like a lot.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2021, 05:59:51 PM »
'Bonny' is one of my favourite songs ever, but I couldn't tell you why. Just something about it hits home hard.

I remember an article with Ben Folds from 20 odd years ago where he named some of his favourite songs and one was a Prefab Sprout number ('Hey Manhattan!' if memory serves) and he was in awe of McAloon's songwriting skills.

Better Midlands

  • I'm not internationally known
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2021, 06:09:34 PM »
Is "most boss lyrics in a song you don't like" worth a thread in itself? Those lines really threw me for a loop when King Of Rock 'N' Roll cropped up on the TOTP repeats, they're amazing.

I saw an interesting, more literal take on them earlier

Quote
'high precision ghosts' refers to old songs being re-released on the 'precision' format of CD. The character in the song is clearly an aged rock n' roll star who is being irked by being reminded of his once glory days by his back catalogue being released again (probably on cheap compilations)

rue the polywhirl

  • eight lives left
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2021, 06:22:26 PM »
Prefab Sprout.

Jordan: The Comeback. Rockets out of the gate but loses momentum pretty seriously about 40 minutes in. All of the strange and wonderful eccentricity of Paddy's early work is permanently silenced here, and there's a bit too much pastiche, which is going to be A Problem going forward. "The Wedding March" is unlistenable. However, up to that point it's a multifaceted jewel.

I reckon there’s an argument for this being probably Prefab’s indisputable Masterpiece. The first quarter  stretch is perfect. Every track a dynamite tune. The second quarter is rock-solid. 3rd quarter has a couple of lesser entries that rock the flow only a tiny bit. And then the last stretch is more rock-solid. Love a bit of Michael, One Of The Broken and Scarlet Nights. and Doo-Wop in Harlem is their most beautiful closer.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2021, 06:27:04 PM »
I have the Life of Surprises best of compilation and it has at least 7-8 songs I like. I remember King of Rock n Roll being very popular in the playground when I was a kid, a combination of the nonsense singalong lyrics and quirky video being played a lot on The Chart Show. Cars and Girls is probably my favourite, apparently it's about hating Bruce Springsteen.

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2021, 06:36:01 PM »
Listening to Swoon now and it is a fucking great album. That is all

Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2021, 07:30:19 PM »
I reckon there’s an argument for this being probably Prefab’s indisputable Masterpiece. The first quarter  stretch is perfect. Every track a dynamite tune. The second quarter is rock-solid. 3rd quarter has a couple of lesser entries that rock the flow only a tiny bit. And then the last stretch is more rock-solid. Love a bit of Michael, One Of The Broken and Scarlet Nights. and Doo-Wop in Harlem is their most beautiful closer.

I just find that last stretch of songs a bit trying. They're not bad (apart from "The Wedding March", which is truly awful) but Paddy is such an interesting songwriter that I feel he's completely wasting his talents when he stoops to pastiche. "One Of The Broken", for example - a perfectly fine song that would make your ears prick up if it were track 9 on a Paul Simon album. All it really does is make me miss his berserk vocal delivery on "Couldn't Bear To Be Special".

But you're right about the start of the album, which is indisputably brilliant. Why on earth no-one bought the singles baffles me.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2021, 11:20:08 AM »
I just find that last stretch of songs a bit trying. They're not bad (apart from "The Wedding March", which is truly awful) but Paddy is such an interesting songwriter that I feel he's completely wasting his talents when he stoops to pastiche. "One Of The Broken", for example - a perfectly fine song that would make your ears prick up if it were track 9 on a Paul Simon album. All it really does is make me miss his berserk vocal delivery on "Couldn't Bear To Be Special".

But you're right about the start of the album, which is indisputably brilliant.

One of the Broken is a pure classic, yes.
I disagree about Wedding March, I think it's a nice pastiche, and quite a sweet way of depicting someone saying marriage isn't for them. I don't thing Jordan palls at all - it's my favourite.

I think he's said he finds it difficult to listen now to that vocal on 'Couldn't Bear To Be Special'. When he did it on their final tour in 2000 he softened it up completely.

There could have been so much more good stuff released if it wasn't for McAloon's terrible sight and hearing problems.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2021, 11:25:36 AM »
Why on earth no-one bought the singles baffles me.

The 2000 tour T-shirt had 'Prefab Sprout' on the front, and something like 'Every 4 seconds someone somewhere isn't buying a Prefab Sprout record' on the back.

Here's Paddy McAloon's last-but-one live appearance in 2006 (he did it once again in 2007):


Neomod

  • What's it Called . . . Cumbernauld!
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2021, 11:38:10 AM »
Here's Paddy McAloon's last-but-one live appearance in 2006 (he did it once again in 2007):



That's a really odd review. The local journo must have been in on the joke surely. If (s)he was then it's quite funny I guess.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2021, 11:48:36 AM »
It's just the local village freesheet in Lanchester, where PM lives.

The cover of Steve McQueen was shot there, fact fans.

Neomod

  • What's it Called . . . Cumbernauld!
Re: Prefab Sprout
« Reply #29 on: July 08, 2021, 12:02:57 PM »
It's just the local village freesheet in Lanchester, where PM lives.

Ah, it's a village. That'll explain it.

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