They keep themselves to themselves, but here’s a few facts about the strange tunesmiths . . .
Prefab Sprout — the name. It doesn’t really mean anything, it’s a makey up. Paddy McAloon was inspired by the likes of Tyrannosaurus Rex, which meant nothing either!
“l put two words together that didn’t mean anything because people would say, ‘What does it mean?’ l had other names at the time like Chrysalis Cognosci. I wouldn’t pick Prefab Sprout now because it would strike the wrong note.”
As a young boy, Paddy studied at a seminary (he nearly became a priest) but he left when he knew that music was his real calling. He studied English at Newcastle Polytechnic and started playing in the pubs round Durham, with the ﬁrst Prefab Sprout, who by all accounts were a rather raucous three piece.
Paddy’s gone through some weird phases. At one point, he considered writing an album of songs that all had the same title but were numbered, 1, 2, 3 and so on . . . he also wanted to write a whole album about sport. None of these ideas came to complete ‘fruition’ — phew!
At ﬁrst, the Sprouts were turned down by every major record label, and at the time decided to set up their own small label. They had 1000 copies of the ﬁrst single, ‘Lions In My Garden’ and released though their newly formed Candle Records label, which had slogans ice ‘ The Wax That Won’t Get On You Wick’.
This led to a deal with local Kitchenware records. The ﬁrst album ‘Swoon’ was released and everybody became truly astounded by Paddy’s clever wordplay and unusual melodies . . . or something. Anyway, everyone said it was truly fab, even if they didn’t have any hits!
The next release was a lush album full of rather super tunes called ‘Steve McQueen’. Everyone squealed and held their hands up in delight and said it was even better than ‘Swoon’ . . . and they had a hit! ‘When Love Breaks Down’ whizzed up to the heady heights of the number 25 spot, and the Sprouts even appeared on ‘TOTP’. Hurrah!
An album called ‘Protest Songs’ was due for release but it was pulled at the last moment and is still snugly entrenched in the tape store!
After a long ‘lay off’, only it wasn’t because Paddy McAloon writes every day. they returned with shock, horror, a huge hit single. ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ whizzed up into the top ten and gave the Sprouts a bit more recognition. The third album ‘From Langley Park To Memphis’ was another collection of meisterwerks and people started to talk about Paddy in hushed tones . . .
The Sprouts have never been known as a rock ’n‘roll live outfit. ~ They haven’t played live since a tour of Japan in 1986 and their last appearance in Britain was one date at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, in February of that year. Paddy doesn’t even like going to see people play live!
“I’ve never been to see anyone l couldn’t have lived without seeing, even if I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. I can just put a record on and they live in my imagination! The air of mystery of never having seen Michael Jackson! I’d rather imagine him in Encino, wandering around with his animals and watching Fantasia in his private cinema. That’s better than anything l could ever see on stage.”
At the moment Paddy’s working on Zorro The Fox, a soundtrack from an unwritten ﬁlm. His imagination has also come up with The Jesse James Symphony, Moondog and Jordan — The Comeback. All songs devoted to Elvis Presley and telling the imaginary story of his life, his death and him landing on the moon . . . and suchlike.
Paddy’s a bit skewy – hurrah!