Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cassette experiment day 84 - Prefab Sprout 'From Langley Park to Memphis'

I think I’ve mentioned before that while I’m definitely addicted to accumulating music, I wouldn’t class myself as a ‘completist’. There are very few artists where I obsessively seek out everything that they have released.
I do own most of the recordings made by Prefab Sprout however, although I’m happy to tell you that I never ever felt the need to purchase any of the Jimmy Nail stuff that Paddy McAloon had a hand in.
The Prefab Sprout album with which I’m least familiar, understandably, is the only one that I only have on cassette, ‘From Langley Park to Memphis’. All of the others I have on CD or vinyl (or both).
Prefab Sprout have long been thought (possibly incorrectly) to have been named after a misheard lyric in the song ‘Jackson’. I chuckled today when I read a theory on Wikipedia that the group may be so called as a result of there being a large number of pre-fabricated houses in the North East of England (which will be my specialist subject if I’m ever on Mastermind). If the writer of this Wikipedia article visits the North East of England they may be surprised to find that we have other types of houses as well.
The cassette opens with probably Prefab Sprout’s best known song (in fact the only one you’d think they’d recorded if you listen to BBC Radio 2), ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ which may or may not include the lyric ‘fine friggin’ candy’. Track 2, the brilliant ‘Cars and Girls’ tries to see life from Bruce Springsteen’s point of view, and largely succeeds, although Paddy’s insistence on calling him Brucie tends to conjure up mental pictures of a doddery tap-dancing octogenarian light entertainer rather than an American rock idol in jeans and T-shirt.
My favourite tune here, nestled halfway through side 2 is the atypical ‘The golden calf’, where the band get nearer to rock music than at any other point in their career – having said that it’s still Prefab Sprout’s version of rock, rather than, say, Deep Purple’s. I also have a soft spot for ‘Nancy (let your hair down for me)’ – I’m a sucker for Paddy’s girls name songs.
Some interesting guest stars turn up too, including Pete Townshend and The Andrae Crouch Singers. And somebody called Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on ‘Nightingales’. In the 1980s you’d only truly arrived if Little Stevie agreed to blow on your album.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable album – oh, and just to mention I’ve been to Langley Park loads of times – they have a very good St Cuthbert’s Hospice charity shop. I’ve never been to Memphis though, although I Imagine the two places are fairly similar.
Label – Kitchenware records
Year – 1988

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