Jeremy Robinson, Sunday Sun – March 19th 2000

Sprouts turn over new leaf

sunPREFAB SPROUT are going back on the road for the first time in 10 years.

Formed by brothers Paddy and Martin McAloon, from Langley Park, County Durham, Prefab Sprout’s quirky songs seeped into the nation’s collective consciousness back in the mid-1980s.

The Steve McQueen album, of 1985, and follow-up From Langley Park to Memphis, in 1988, scooped both critical acclaim and commercial success.

The release of their 38 Carat Collection album on Sony recently has sparked interest in both the band and songwriter Paddy McAloon.

Not that you’ll catch Paddy admitting it though. “Prefab Sprout are a minority beat group now,” he says cheerfully.

The response to their tour tells a different story. An extra London date has been added to meet huge demand, and their Newcastle City Hall gig on April 8 is selling out sharpish too.

“I suppose it looks a little perverse us going back on the road, but I hope people will enjoy songs both old and new in a slightly more stripped-down style,” McAloon adds.

“A lot of the songs are on the very edge of my memory and I figured that if l make an‘ effort now I might just be able to retrieve them.”

McAloon took a seven-year retreat from recording after the release of Jordan: The Comeback in 1990.

Royalties from the Sprouts’ back catalogue” kept him ticking over while the rest of the band took day jobs.

But McAloon never stopped writing, penning songs for Cher and Jimmy Nail among others.

“There are well over 100 songs, which I worry about, ” he confides.

“I’m. awake at night sometimes thinking it’s immensely frustrating that some of my best ever material isn’t out there.

“I’ve got to do something about it, but it’s hard to know what because a part of me only wants to record them when they get the financial, backing they deserve.”

As for popularity, Paddy is philosophical “I remember making a video a few years ago, and playing the piano with all these young dancers who were aheut 19 or 20.

“l started playing The Beatles’ Hey Jude and one of them said, ‘Ah, play something we ail know’. and I took a kind of solace from that.

“If Paul McCartney is not famous for Hey Jude, then I’m not going to be farnous for anything and there’s no paint worrying about it.”

What has changed most, it seems, is Paddy’s appearance. Even diehard fans would be forgiven a double-take.

“l’ve got the longest beard you’ve ever seen and I’m a big bloke now, rather than a little waif. Some people might he in for a shock,” he smiles.