Reason #291: From Langley park To Memphis

prefab spAs I mentioned in my post about Prefab’s album Steve McQueen, From Langley Park To Memphis wasn’t supposed to be the follow up to that 1985 masterpiece; Protest Songs was. Deemed too similar in style and perhaps not containing as many obvious ‘hits’, the label chose this one, and it yielded Prefab Sprout’s most successful single in The King Of Rock And Roll, in addition to alienating some if their more obsessive fans. Of course some called it a sell-out, myself included at the time, but upon reflection (as is often the case) it ain’t nearly as bad as I remember. I actually consider it a ‘good’ Prefab album, which in the great scheme of things is an excellent album by regular standards.

It’s still full of great pop songs with obtuse lyrics, and the only thing that lets it down is the production, which sounds tinny and hollow compared to brilliantly lush production of Steve McQueen (courtesy of another pop genius, Thomas Dolby). The songs Enchanted, Venus Of The Soup Kitchen and Hey Manhattan offer a glimpse of what was to come with the great Jordan: The Comeback (Steve McQueen’s equal, produced again by Dolby); that is to say more sophisticated, Cole Porter-ish style songs. Other highlights include breezy pop numbers I Remember That and Nightingales. Stevie Wonder and Pete Townshend guest here but I’ll be damned if I can tell you where. Bottom line is any Prefab Sprout album is worth your time. Singer/Songwriter Paddy McAloon is a treasure, virtually unknown and tragically ignored here in The States. Pick up Steve McQueen first, and Jordan second. Then go wherever you please in their discography. You can’t go wrong.

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