“‘THAT single! Such complicated beauty reeks of Wall Of Voodoo and Steely Dan unsmoothed and unAmericanised, with Stevie Wonder harmonica and a tight jumble of words and rhythms clicking and ticking into strange places. Much too complicated for the charts but a jewelled movement in the right, crazy direction.
“That name! A joke at the expense of image and the ridiculous pretension of the pop pose. Paddy McAloon, ah ’tis a fine Irish name, plays harmonica and guitar. Martin plays bass and Wendy goes “Oooooo”. Perverse, amusing, a sliding butchery of what’s going down in the mind of pop.
“Paddy is befringed with a floppy mop of hair. Wendy tucks her blonde tresses under a cap and wears dungarees. There is a slight resemblance to a subversive, off-world Thompson Twins – No, that’s a dire insult, it’s only on a visual level. This music was always going to be difficult to play live with ridiculous musical gear changes and rhythmic tricks their anxious appeal.
“Only a shadow of the recorded sound, they battle with their ideas and try to make them live. Plain wacky this, you don’t know where you are. Good. But they’ve got to watch they are very clever and that can lead to an elitism that would be a mistake. Clever, not clever-clever, is the way it should be. The beginning was excruciating, the band were hesitant, the feedback shrieked from various points, and the vocals non-existent. (The sound man is currently undergoing treatment). It was well over halfway through before Wendy’s cooing vocals were audible, just in time to save Paddy’s harsh voice from faltering along with some highly dubious guitar chords.
“The last three numbers saved the night. ‘Hallelujah’ was actually tuneful and light, the superb ‘Don’t Sing’ almost got near to the record and I loved it just as much in its rough state.’ Lions’ went right off the track but still worked. With an apology for ‘not being too lively tonight’ they left. I think they care. I think they could be very important.
“So the gulf between the record and the performance is massive but somehow it didn’t really matter. And that’s the wonder of Prefab Sprout.”
Bob Flynn, Melody Maker, March 10th 1984