THE PREFAB PRODUCT
There's something about the "Product" and the way that it does not necessarily conform to the contemporary formulae of today that makes Prefab Sprout stand out in the "Hype-sells-all" (well, almost all) music scene of today.
It is accepted, however, that this "standing out" seems to be keeping the band from any real chart success, for obvious reasons.
To CBS, Prefab Sprout are "Product" and they will aim to promote that product to the largest market sector ot to as many sectors as possible and will, without resistance, happily drive down that one-way street.
Fortunately, Mr. McAloon and Kitchenware have a bit more pride in their work but, nevertheless, CBS hold the purse-strings.
The Sprouts go for a stylish "wrapping" as opposed to the "hard sell" approach.
A compromise is made, forcing "Hype" somewhat into a back seat.
This is the benefit of working under the Kitchenware label.
But does that compromise work?
Do either degraded photo-imagery or softly tinted high exposed pictures do much for the band in terms of "Packaging" and "Promotion" ? Here I relate to the "Jordan" and "Langley" album sleeves, respectively.
I'm comparing against the excellent tinted photographs on the sleeve of "Steve McQueen", which was actually taken by the photographer's assistant. How about "Hot Dog, Jumping Frog ..." - the video was simple and it worked ! There seemed to work well for the band.
OK, so Nick Knight and The Douglas Brothers are well-known for their colorful, imaginative palettes and they did come up with some impressive effects but the question is "Were they the right images for Prefab Sprout ?"
Yes, I'm sure that both the band and Kitchenware had their say and that they consider those images as "Sproutty" (it would be interesting to know the views of the band as to what exactly is generally considered as the right image for the band) but can we be sure that they're marketed right ? Now I sound like CBS !
As a fan I want the band to succeed and excell, of course, but is comerciality a pre-requisite ?
Thomas Dolby summarised:
"Paddy's in touch with the aspect that's been largely missing from pop music in the last ten or fifteen years. It's that part that doesn't have to do with moving product and selling your image, the part that has to do with real risk and adventure."
I suppose everything comes down to Paddy's opinion that one day he will write the biggest hit of all time and that the success of the "big one" will not come from changing the band's embarrassing name, nor by slotting into the latest teenage fashion / sound, but by being original, humble, honest and human in his work.
REAL RISK AND ADVENTURE
Paddy's theory that admiring from a distance can be better sometimes than getting close up to (say) your favourite actor or rock star is a reflection of the band's absence from television interviews in the UK. Paddy probably had more French than UK television appearances during the launch of "Jordan: The Comeback" and the tour !
He admits to giving away his Michael Jackson concert tickets days before the "BAD" gig for this reason.
His theory was proved right after his head-to-head with Warren Beatty last year. After all, there are actors and there are stars.
Having sported various guises such as circus ringmaster, biker and even Manhanttan sophistocrat, Paddy McAloon hides away penning and imagining the next "project", as they are becoming known.
Beard or moustache ? Long or short hair ? Leathers or waistcoat ? You can be sure when he surfaces that you'll be surprised even gob-smacked !
Is our maestro emulating that Tim Man Mr. Bowie ? (more faces than Phil Cool inside a hall of mirrors.)
That's my personal oversight of the situation.
Still, the public may vote with their individual tastes but CBS will look at the bottom line.
However, it's that laid-back and low-key attitude which has also stimulated much interest in the past. I suppose it's "cool !"
Don't get me wrong on any of the points that I've raised above as I am perfectly happy with the Prefab Product to date. I just wonder what the non-sprout public interpret from the
It would be interesting to see how Protest Songs sold in comparison to other albums as it was released without promotion.