May 7, 2020

Who is Prefab Sprout

My love and I, we work well together but often we're apart. Absence makes the heart lose weight, yeah. Till love breaks down ...

So begins the beautifully penned "When Love Breaks Down" by one of the greatest 80's English pop rock bands:  Prefab Sprout.

As of late, I've been into the 80's rock pop sound which has led me down the road of Tears for Fears, the Fixx, the Squeeze, Curiosity Killed the Cat and a number of others including the exceptionally well written songs of Paddy McAloon aka Prefab Sprout. Like other groups from that decade, the Prefab Sprout tunes can be described as soft, almost angelic compared to their 70's rock predecessors i.e. there's no screaming, no heavy guitar solos, no distorted chords and lots of keyboard backing. Oh yes, let's not forget the sophisticated jazz interludes and the electronic infused rhythm tracks. Certainly, there are other similarities that can be highlighted, but those are less important than the differences.

What makes the Sprout so great: beautiful melodies, exquisite poetry for lyrics and a sophisticated chord structure. In plain english, this group wrote a number of outstanding songs. So why were they not famous? I'll answer that question with another question: why wasn't Van Gogh famous in his lifetime? All too often the most precious and beautiful art is overlooked by the masses because they can't categorize it. Those having tried to get radio play would know the game that's played: "We love/like it! We think it's really great! However, our listeners would prefer it all sounds the same." If you're too different or not different enough, you don't stand out. There's no need to feel sorry for Prefab Sprout. They were certainly chart makers in their native England. According to Wickipedia, 9 of their albums were on the charts and "The King of Rock 'n' Roll", one of their singles, peaked at seven on the UK Singles Chart.

There chart success in the US was minimal which means that you had to know a European with a knowledge of the band or have stumbled accross an album in a record store. I was fortunate enough to have a classmate from England while in grad school at Ohio State who lent me a tape copy of their music and have been impressed ever since.

I suggest you buy Life of Surprises - Best of and get on with growing the Sprout. You won't regret it!


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