Paul Woods, Sunderland Echo – September 7th 1981

Watch out for the Sprouts

IT’S time to face facts — there’s a shortage of North East bands with the talent to be more than also-rans.

Many groups in the region have the ability to clinch the all-important record deal, usually for a ‘one-off single, but only a couple have the potential to become major acts.

One of these bright hopes are Witton Gilbert based Prefab Sprout who are making a rare Wearside appearance at Annabel’s tonight.

The Sprouts – Patrick McAloon, guitar, vocals; brother Martin, bass; and drummer Michael Salmon; have been building up a small following with their intelligent pop and instantly recognisable musical style.

The band have been together in one shape or another for nearly ten years but got down to business in 1977, rehearsing a two-hour set of original material before emerging for live work in 1979.

Musically the band are impressive – the rhythm section is a tight flexible unit which has to cope with many complex changes while guitarist Paddy is one of the most imaginative players around.

But it’s the songs that could make them their fortune. They’re melodic, well crafted, with fine lyrics and some amazing’ twist and turns – some take a while to get used to but they’re well worth the effort.

The ‘Sprout sound’ is hard to classify; the numbers switch easily from the Beatleish mid- tempo ballad “Lines From My Own Garden” to the punchy sound of “Donna Summer,” the brooding funk of “Here On The Eyrie” to “Technique,” which is beyond description, and on to the new wave pop meets Country and Western of “Faron Young,” while still retaining an original identity.

This mixture of styles could well be a contributory factor to why the band aren’t more popular

“We are not really a fashionable band, we just go our own way,” said Paddy, who at 24 is the eldest in the group. “We like and play a lot of different styles and we hope this will probably work in our favour.”

There’s a couple of reasons why the Sprouts haven’t achieved the success many think they deserve, these are lack of finance and the brothers’ burden of running the family garage business – although they feel this has been over-stressed in some quarters.

But the main reason according to Paddy – “We’re basically lazy. We know we should be doing more to get noticed but we get sick of the routine. Perhaps we lack the cold heartedness to make it.”

However the Sprouts will make a concerted effort by taking a demo tape containing two of their stage favourites “Cherry Tree” and “Donna Summer” down to the London record labels.

“There’ll come a time when we may be faced with the decision to move to London to make it,” said Paddy.

Hopefully you’ll catch them before then.

paul woods echo 7 Sept 1981