Prefab Sprout website: A Life of Surprises

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Rollmo! No. 11


I moved to Texas in the Summer of '86 after spending two months in Mexico. I'd lived in a small town in Louisiana all my life and had only left the state two or three times. To come to Texas was BIG as was being thirteen in Mexico. I'd lived in a small town in Louisiana all my life and had only left the state two or three times. To come to Texas was BIG as was being thirteen in Mexico. Lots of changes.
I started high school (the last four years of school in the US) in the Fall and was very alone. I had my first access to a "real" record store and would experiment by buying "alternative" albums which I'd read about in "Big City" magazines (ie. Rolling Stone, Smash Hits etc.) I've always read a lot and a good review would have me out buying the album.
I'll never forget my reaction to seeing the cover of "Two Wheels Good". It was like a looking glass into the misty somber world of my imagination. I stared at the album and considered buying it. I didn't know anything about the band, was on a budget and already had a list a mile long of things I wanted. I ended up purchasing an Echo and The Bunnymen LP and I eventually forgot about "Two Wheels".
The record shop closed and was replaced by a vile chain store. The selection would never be the same again. In the spring of '88 I was working on a science project for school (research of Jung's "synchronicity" inspired by my adoration for Sting) and needed to take a break. I wandered overto the vile record shop from Hell and browsed I spotted "From Langley Park To Memphis" and knew the name Prefab Sprout. I took the tape home and played it. The strains of "The King Of Rock'N'Roll" filled my room.
"Wait a second", I thought, "Is this the same band who had that wonderfully moody, thought provoking cover all that time ago?"
It was unlike anything I'd heard. I let it play while I made my'phone calls to area psychologists and doctors trying to get their views on this synchronicity business. It played over and over and over. I had my information for the project but was getting nowhere with the doctors. I needed real local references and wasn't having any luck. The synchronicity idea started to look more dismal.
I looked at the cover of "Langley" and thought about alternatives. The vivid colours of this band's clothes were untouched by the gleam of light on them. The photo looked as if it had got wet and had run. Eureka! How about if I do the effects of weather on natural fibre fabrics? And so it went... inspired by the photo of this band I completed my project with a minimum number of tears.
The LP grew on me until it was all I could listen to. The wonderful romance of "I Remember That", the Prince allusion in "Enchanted", the sad truth of "Knock On Wood", the youthful restlessness which I was feeling and was expressed in "The Golden Calf", the fact that I was in love with a girl named Nancy, the strange quality of "Venus..." etc. etc. I just had to get that other album with the great cover now.
I ordered it. I was in deep. I didn't get "Two Wheels" until the Fall. I also met another girl, Julie (who I've been seeing ever since). She had spent time in Australia and knew "The King Of Rock'N'Roll". I' d go out to visit her on the far West end of Galveston Island. She had a beach house with her mother. I didn't have a permit to drive so I took the back roads. When I'd leave her home it was always very late and cold and sometimes foggy. I drove as quickly as possible to rush home and call her - to get out of the cold darkness. I played "Two Wheels Good" on the way home. The melancholy strains of "Bonny" and "Goodbye Lucille No.1" carried me through the night. I was in love with "Steve McQueen" as much as Julie. To me the LP was a summary of a lifetime of feelings which I experienced as well as those to come. "Two Wheels Good" was nothing less than a soundtrack to life for me.
I needed more. I asked questions, raided record shops and came up empty handed. I even sent a letter to the President of CBS Records in America! I was desperate and getting nowhere. I checked library records for magazines with stories on the band and came up with a scant mention every once in a while. Why was a band who made such beautiful, eloquent music so under-published?

I went to a bookshop (I have a vast personal library and work at a bookshop locally on holidays) and found a music address book. "Anybody Who Is Anybody", it read. I thought, "If Prefab Sprout is not listed I shall go insane and hurt someone or myself."
They were listed.
I wrote to the Kitchenware address and told my story to Phil Mitchell, I got the newsletter and back issues.
I sent postal orders. I was on Cloud 9. John wrote to me and life is starting to look up. Here I am!
At one point I ordered all the Sprout material available on CD (Steve and Langley..) even though I didn't have a CD player! I had to have anything I could get.
The collection is growing and I've made wonderful friends through the "Sprout Network" (so to speak) and I'm constantly inspired by Paddy.
Musical elitism among fans is the kiss of death and I find it repulsive. Rather than hoard Prefab Sprout, I want to share the experience with everyone. It is the sort of situation where one doesn't have to worry about "outsiders" because anyone who is touched by the music is a friend of mine. No-one would lie about having an interest in the band because it's the "hip thing to do". I say, "Spread the beautiful melodies and words of Prefab Sprout!" I feel that people can be brought together by music for different reasons, but at least we're brought together.
I don't know how or why Paddy McAloon has touched a cord in so many of us. I believe that it is wise to not tear him apart to see what makes him tick but to keep a healthy distance to let time and Mr. McAloon himself define Paddy McAloon .
The music of Prefab Sprout is a tool which we can use to get in touch with our denied feelings which we never knew we had.
"God's a proud thundercloud, we are cartoon cats
With a fear that is Biblical under our hats ..."
Christopher Caldwell