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Birch, creator of the website The
Prefab Sprout Village, wrote the only book about the Sprouts: Myths, Melodies
& Metaphysics: Paddy McAloon's Prefab Sprout
of 122 pages.
Just to give you an idea of what's inside, here is the Foreword of the book. Besides that, many more insights on the band and many photos.
One of our most celebrated and finest contemporary songwriters, Paddy McAloon is always full of surprises, being nothing short of an enigma. He'll be remembered for writing memorable songs with classical melodies, injecting wit, sublime emotional consciousness, a rich texture of musical variety and a more mature, universally resonant, insightful and compelling songwriting approach into today's brash pop era which he says is "only good at portraying images which don't stand up in the real world".
His style is uncompromising, unashamed, elegant, enthusiastic, obsessive, intelligent, broadminded, modern and surprising. Always.
As songwriter he is influenced by the classic themes to be found in films (evident celluloid reference: Steve McQueen, Heaven Can Wait), musicals (Sondheim, Styne, Rodgers), the great songwriters of yesterday (Porter, Bacharach & David), modern pop songwriters (Webb, McCartney, Wilson) and still finds space to quote Shakespeare (Timon of Athens in Radio Love, Romeo and Juliet's Capulets and Montagues in Enchanted and "Alas! Their love may be called appetite, no motion of the liver, but the palate").
McAloon is intrigued with the relationships between good and bad (spiritually), heroes and worshippers, perspectives and irony, differing cultures (of the mind) and even in his relationship with the press; with their summery of him.
He is not the shy, retiring person some expect. When sat down, he comfortably chatters, his vocal pattern shifting constantly, almost singing with emphasis and zeal when discussing his passion with songwriting and melodies. Subjects battle in his head and force their way to the fore one by one, his speech sparking off at tangents with the vigour found in passion and commitment. He is at his most enthusiastic when he is writing with reference to the floating aesthetic found in subjects surrounding myths, dreams and legends. He is fascinated by the pre-conditioned thoughts and pictures we conjure up when thinking of famous people, places and unusual situations; of how they stand up in the cold light of day.
McAloon's want has always been to write. Rather than tour and promote, he'd be alone in his small home studio writing and demoing songs for a whole host of projects. He says he is "burned" by every day he can't write. He prefers to lead a quiet life, far from the sex, drugs and rock'n' roll circus of the south; he'd rather listen to Abba, Glen Campbell, Carole King or Laura Nyro than to the flavour of the month.
His tastes are geared towards lasting things; in music he adores The Beatles and Broadway Musicals in favour of U2 or Suede. He aspires to greatness and succeeds, formulating valuable, relevant and ageless timepieces; songs that will become pop classics, rising as phoenixes from today's embers of pop music, his lyrics and melodies forging a finer symmetry with the passing of every album.
This book is a "Story Written Out Of Necessity"; an account of Paddy McAloon's Prefab Sprout; of their rise to success, McAloon's songwriting dissected, of their early days with Kitchenware Records and of the band's shifts in musical styles.
It is not intended to set out or reveal McAloon's personal life. That would (in his words) "kill the mystery" completely. Hopefully it has been written along a parallel following this train of thought, from his days at school up to 1997.