Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Paddy McAloon's Shorts

Please forgive the clumsy punning title, but it does sum up the theme of today's Prefab Sprout selection. 14 songs, spanning their debut single in 1982 through to 2001's seventh album, which was largely made up of material Paddy McAloon had previously given to Jimmy Nail and Cher. These are also the shortest Prefab Sprout songs in my collection (hence the post title), only a couple nudging over the 3 minute mark. Most of these aren't obvious choices when thinking of a Prefab Sprout compilation, but all are tiny reminders of Paddy McAloon's genius as a songwriter and (very) occasional interpreter of other people's songs.
Side One (17:04)
1) Mercy (1990)
2) Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) (1982)
3) Real Life (Just Around The Corner) (NME Version) (1985)
4) Swans (1997)
5) The Wedding March (1990)
6) Oh, The Swiss! (1985)
7) He'll Have To Go (Cover of Jim Reeves) (1985)

Side Two (16:59)
1) Walk On (1983)
2) Dragons (Originally recorded by Jimmy Nail) (1997)
3) Jesse James Symphony (1990)
4) When You Get To Know Me Better (2001)
5) Spinning Belinda (1984)
6) Where The Heart Is (1997)
7) Blueberry Pies (1985)
A1, A5, B3 from Jordan: The Comeback
A2 from Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone) 7"
A3 from Drastic Plastic (NME promo 7")
A4 from Andromeda Heights
A6 from Appetite 12"
A7 from When Love Breaks Down 12"
B1 from The Devil Has All The Best Tunes 7"
B2 from Electric Guitars EP
B4 from The Gunman And Other Stories
B5 from Couldn't Bear To Be Special 12"
B6 from A Prisoner Of The Past EP. Theme to the popular ITV series, which ran from 1997-2006
B7 from Steve McQueen


  1. Possibly the greatest British songwriter? Paddy McAloon qualifies for the final round of voting, certainly.
    I am a died in the wool(ly jumper) fan. Appetite is one of my 5 favorite songs of all time. As much as I love Prefab's masterworks from 82 - 90, I have lots and lots of time for the albums that followed, including those released in this Millennium. Andromeda Heights is masterful and mature, The Gunman and Other Stories has one of my favorite PS tracks - Cornfield Ablaze. 2009's Let's Change The World With Music may be controversial for some fans, based on the faith references (religion doesn't come into it if you listen carefully enough), but there are some amazing tracks like Ride and Music Is A Princess. If 201's Crimson|Red is the last long player from Paddy, well, the man has gone out on a high.
    Best Jewel Thief In The World is good enough to be from Steve McQueen. Devil Came A Calling would have been a hit for Faron Young or Glen Campbell or Jimmy Webb. The Dreamer is the sum of all the great things Paddy puts into a song to make it touch you.

    1. I think I was fortunate in that I discovered Prefab Sprout and Paddy McAloon at just the right time. I was a teen, I'd developed a deep interest in the lyrics, not just the sounds and I heard Faron Young for the first time on the John Peel Show. Shortly after, I got Steve McQueen and Paddy McAloon's songwriting was like nothing else I'd encountered at the time. Whilst that remains my absolute favourite Prefab Sprout, you're absolutely right that McAloon never stopped being brilliant. I love all of the consequent albums, including I Trawl The Megahertz. Even the songs on this selection that some might have considered throwaway or B-side filler are something special. Spinning Belinda is a great example:

      I found a note in the porthole
      It said, "You've just lost a fortune"
      It said, "look on the bright side,
      you could be in jail."