Prefab Sprout Website: A Life of Surprises

Home  /  Intro  /  Campaign  /  Lyrics and Covers  /  Fanzines  /  Singles /  Live CDs  /  Animations  /  Videos  /  FAQ  /  Interviews  /  Guitar Chords  /  Book /  Articles /  Photos  /  Screen Savers  /   Links  /  Internet Resources  /  Trades  /  Special Sale  /  News  /  Sitemap



Jordan: The Comeback


Almost  three years on From Langley Park To Memphis, Prefab Sprout are once again produced by Thomas Dolby, and on first impression there's no obvious advancement. There are only three songs of the Hey Manhattan calibre: All The World Loves Lovers, the kind of swooping, breathy confection that, were he about 60 years younger, Frank Sinatra would be doing with equal panache; Doo Wop In Harlem, very nearly a cappella with Paddy McAloon balanced against a gently churning organ; and We Let The Stars Go Out, the crooning of a man clearly in love with love, rescued from slushiness by Paddy McAloon's convincingly bright-eyed naivety.

But, given a few plays, the overall depth of the work becomes apparent. Jordan takes far more risks than From Langley Park To Memphis and pulls them off with a swagger, indicating the scale of understanding between Paddy McAloon and Thomas Dolby. The former supplies solid, reliable pop songs, the latter embellishes them with layers of unusual instrumentation, moulding them into orchestral adventures of epic proportions. Even a 30-second half-explored doodle like All Boys Believe Anything becomes fascinating in its mix of (what sounds like) woodwind, a harp and a harmonica.

Just as startling is Jesse James Symphony, a soft, deceptively complicated affair that eases seamlessly into a thumping bolero, stirring in more than a couple of coy references to the soundtrack of The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. It manages to recreate a feel from the past, but sets it in an entirely modern context. This is true of much of the album: the oddly titled Machine Gun Ibiza, for example, is a slab of electronic blues involving wah-wah guitars and echoed percussion, translating Curtis Mayfield circa 1972 into 1990.

Most impressive, though, is Jordan's comprehensiveness of arrangement. Never losing sight of the original rhythms and melodies, it fills every nook and cranny with sounds, and can either transform a simple sketch like Paris Smith into a shimmering canvas of emotion, or subtly build up the more powerful starters-Samba 2000 and Looking For Atlantis - into overwhelming pop toccatas. And the real beauty of the whole thing is that the participants are so relaxed about what they're doing, it's all shot through with the driest of humour.

4 stars





Jordan: The Comeback


Each  album since 1983's Swoon was more commercial, yet hit singles proved slippery fellows for the Sprout; they were, therefore, an albums act and Jordan was a grand, triumphant two fingers to virtually all accepted musical codes of its era (can Manchester really have been occurring at the same time?). Paddy McAloonís canny knack for classic old-time songwriting is whipped into an over-ambitious banquet by producer Thomas Dolby, and a concept album about Elvis, Jesse James and God swaggers from what might have been a car crash. Contains the line, "We chopped a thousand trees to print up eulogies."


3 stars