Snap Sounds: Prefab Sprout

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PREFAB SPROUT
Let's Change the World With Music
(Tompkins Square)

Strange world we live in, where the likes of Björk and Stephin Merritt have written musicals, but we don't have one by Paddy McAloon, whose songs far outdo contemporary Broadway's best in terms of melody, emotional poignance, and poetic wordplay. It's a tragedy that a composer and vocalist of such unashamed purity has been stricken with Ménière's disease, which effects hearing. But it's a blissful pleasure to hear previously-unreleased music by one of the late-20th century's greatest pop songwriters.

McAloon honored and even eclipsed the spirits of Elvis, Moondog, and ABBA on his masterwork, 1989's Jordan: The Comeback, throwing in a pair of sublime songs about Jesse James, to boot. In the tradition of 1989's Protest Songs, Let's Change the World with Music is a remastered version of a previously-unreleased collection of demos, dating from 1992. It presents romantic music as religion, and for an atheist or agnostic or unsparing anti-sentimentalist, its fervor can be off-putting. But the loveliest moments — "God Watch Over You," "Music is a Princess," "Angel of Love" — are the stuff of conversion, as tuneful as Paul McCartney, and with a lot more integrity.

Prefab Sprout, "Music is a Princess," from Let's Change the World With Music:

Prefab Sprout, "God Watch Over You," from Let's Change the World With Music:

 

Comments

It's great to see this kind of written appreciation of Paddy McAloon - it's all too rare. I think you're exactly right with your reference to Broadway -- McAloon has the stuff of truly great musicals in him, and great in the classic sense, not the gimmickry of today. And this is nailing it as well: "as tuneful as Paul McCartney, and with a lot more integrity." Looking back, there's a lot of poignant irony in the song "Meet the New Mozart":

Next time round, not so bright,
I'll swap a molten core
A star-burst for candlelight

Posted by SC on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

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