Sunday, September 27, 2009

PREFAB SPROUT/Let's Change The World With Music review

Prefab Sprout's Let's Change The World With Music is now available!  This abandoned album from the early '90s (recorded after Jordan: The Comeback) has been gathering dust for 17 years and has finally seen the light of day!

Here is what I had to say about it on All Music Guide!

"Why on earth isn’t Paddy McAloon a legend? Honestly, he really should be a household name all around the world. From Prefab Sprout’s early ‘80s singles up through their oft-brilliant but much-maligned album The Gunman & Other Stories in 2001, Paddy has written some of the finest Pop tunes you’re likely to hear in your lifetime. If you are not familiar with the Sprouts’ output, comparisons are futile. How can you possibly describe a songwriter who is as unique as he is mysterious? Comparisons have been made with Cole Porter, Lennon & McCartney, Brian Wilson, Stephen Sondheim, Jimmy Webb, Elvis Costello and many others, but he remains a truly original and gifted singer and songwriter.

While Prefab Sprout could never be called prolific in terms of physical album releases, Paddy has continued to write and demo material throughout the band’s 20+ year career. In recent years, while less talented artists bask in the spotlight and sell boatloads of albums, our man Paddy has dealt with a series of health issues including vision and hearing problems. He’s had retinal detachments in both eyes and a severe bout with tinnitus, which has left him virtually unable to carry on as a recording artist. Thankfully, he continues to write songs that can be sung by other vocalists and perhaps, one day, he will be able to grace us with his own voice again.

Until then, we will fortunately be graced with previously unreleased Prefab Sprout music, such as Let’s Change The World With Music, the oft-rumored 1992 follow-up to the Sprouts’ Jordan: The Comeback album. While the album was never actually completed by the band, Paddy’s full-formed demo is not just a hint of what ‘might have been’: it’s one of the most consistent albums of the band’s career!

Let’s Change The World With Music is a loose concept album that that is based around the intense, often times religious, joy of music and the gift it brings to those who allow it to overcome and overwhelm them. While Paddy is not a Bible-bashing evangelist, he uses religious imagery to describe the magical power of music and how it can literally change the world. Those who choose to push music to the background in their lives may not understand where Paddy is coming from, but for those of us who have lived and breathed music since our early days, Let’s Change The World With Music is a revelation (pun intended).

From the intro of the lead-off track, “Let There Be Music”, it is immediately obvious that this will be a different Prefab experience to what most fans are used to. In the past (especially on Jordan: The Comeback), the band used keyboards to add depth and atmosphere to their tracks but Let’s Change The World... is a different ball of wax: it is ALL keyboards. As stated previously, this is Paddy’s demo version of his musical vision and does not feature backing vocalist Wendie Smith or brother Martin.. or anyone else for that matter. And to be honest, even without the other band members, it’s an absolute joy to listen to. Would it have sounded better with real strings, real drums, guitars and proper production from someone like Thomas Dolby? It’s really hard to tell, since the album is a near-perfect collection of songs that celebrate the glory of music, becoming a glorious piece of music in the process.

Some of the lyrics on the album may seem a bit twee and trite on the surface (particularly on “Music Is A Princess”), but in the context of the album, they become touching and heartwarming. Like all Prefab albums, there are moments of absolute joy on display mixed with an equal amount of bittersweet and touching songs that reach right down and stir your soul. Highlights include “Ride”, “Earth, The Story So Far”, “Last Of The Great Romantics”, “Angel Of Love” and the title track.

For the uninitiated, the Prefab Sprout albums to investigate first would certainly be Steve McQueen and Jordan: The Comeback, but Let’s Change The World With Music isn’t far behind. It is a beautiful, joyful and unpretentious musical love letter written to and about this life-changing force we call music. Let it make your heart sing!"

Let's change the world with music blogs,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

1 comment:

jequitteparis said...

Ride is the best song of the year!