I firmly believe that Prefab Sprout’s album Steve McQueen is one of the all time great albums, and in the top five albums released in the 1980s. As such I was very excited when I heard that the reclusive Paddy McAloon was putting the band back together for a new album.
The reality is a little bit different. Let’s Change The World With music is effectively an old demo, the rejected follow-up to 1990s Jordan: The Comeback, given a spring clean. As such it is a bit of a disappointment, not the great comeback of an underrated songwriter I had hoped for.
Listening to the songs it is hard to see why the album was rejected. It is a concept album about music itself, with many religious and spiritual references throughout the songs. Perhaps the lack of an obvious hit, there is no ‘King Of Rock n Roll’ or ‘When Love Breaks Down’ on the album, was the problem. It is an accomplished set of songs, lyrically deep and with ambitious instrumental arrangements even in demo form.
However, the instrumentation and production is one of the areas where the album falls down. The mood and sound of the songs is too similar, mostly lead by electric piano with a faux orchestral backing. It makes you wonder just how good these songs could have sounded if they had been taken into the studio with a producer and a band. McAloon’s voice, as ever, is strong and distinctive.
Each time I listen to the album I enjoy it more, which is a real sign of quality and I have probably listened to it more times in the first few days of ownership than anything else this year. ‘God Watch Over You’ and ‘Music Is my Princess’ are two of the best songs on the album, and album that has no obvious low points. However, the lack of any real standout tracks is also one of the albums faults. It would have been nice to hear a few examples of McAloon the great pop song composer.
I hope that the album is successful enough for McAloon to reform the band properly and record a new album. He’s a true original and one of the great songwriters and performers in English music, he deserves an audience.
by Dorian Rogers, Sept 2009