Prefab Sprout Biography
Brirish Pop-Rock sensation Prefab Sprout formed in the late '70s as a musical project by singer + songwriter Patrick Joseph McAloon -- AKA Paddy McAloon -- in the village of Witton Gilbert, five miles west of Durham City, ENGLAND. At this time, the band included McAloon, his younger brother Martin on bass and drummer Michael Salmon. For four years they toured local pubs, clubs and colleges with a set of mostly original Paddy McAloon tunes.
In February 1982 Prefab Sprout produced and released on their own label,
Candle Records, its first single "Lions In My Own Garden (Exit Someone)".
The group resumed gigging to promote the single, with Wendy Smith, a regular
attendee at the band's gigs, providing backing vocals.
One year later the group recorded another single which was released by the newly founded Kitchenware Records. Shortly after Salmon left the group to form his own band; Prefab Sprout spent the next twelve months looking for a replacement drummer, using session drummer Graham Lant in the recording of their first album, "Swoon", which was completed in August 1983. In October CBS signed the band up for an eight album distribution deal, with Kitchenware remaining the band's management. The band toured again in December, opening for Elvis Costello several times.
Their first album, the aforementioned "Swoon", was finally released in the spring of 1984 and eventually inched into the U.K. Pop Albums chart at #22. April saw Neil Conti play his first gig with Prefab Sprout, in Dublin.
The band recorded a new single that year, "When Love Breaks Down",
which managed to reach #88, this time round.
Their second album, "Steve McQueen", appeared in June 1985, produced by Thomas Dolby it peaked at #21 on the U.K. Albums chart and stayed in the chart for 35 weeks, eventually earning platinum status. It remains Prefab Sprout's most highly-regarded work, often appearing in all-time lists and recieving name-checks by current artists. In the U.S. however, the estate of Steve McQueen -- the man -- took issue with the name, resulting in the album being called "Two Wheels Good" when it was released there. The disc included an array of sophisticated Pop tunes such as "Appetite" and the slightly remixed version of "When Love Breaks Down" which hit #25 on the British Singles chart.
During 1985 the band recorded another album, "Protest Songs" with a strange plan to release it for just one week, but the label felt having another album around would confuse fans and so "Protest Songs" was shelved until 1989 when it debuted inside the top 20 of the U.K. Albums chart.
In March 1988 Paddy McAloon and company issued "From Langley Park To Memphis" going straight into the U.K. top 5. The first single, "Cars And Girls", failed to dent the top 40, but its follow-up, "The King Of Rock 'N' Roll", became the band's most successful single to date peaking at #7 on the U.K. Singles chart. The album yielded two further modestly-placed chart singles: "Hey Manhattan!" and "Nightingales", the latter of which features a cameo from Stevie Wonder, playing the harmonica on it.
Two and a half years later Prefab Sprout returned with "Jordan: The Comeback"; wisely reuniting with producer Thomas Dolby, Paddy McAloon saw his mammoth, 19-track masterpiece fly to #7 on the British Albums chart. The set, which was extremely well-recieved by the music press, contained two U.K. top 50 singles "Looking For Atlantis" and "We Let The Stars Go".
The band issued a greatest hits compilation entitled "A Life Of Surprises" in July 1992; this was their biggest album hit, peaking at #3 and provided two new songs as singles "The Sound Of Crying" which reached #23 on the British Official chart and "If You Don't Love Me" a further top 40 entrant.
After a seemingly endless wait, Paddy McAloon returned in May 1997 with
an album of new material, entitled "Andromeda Heights". The
new sound was orchestral, with some songs being written entirely on the
computer, Paddy McAloon now felt that Prefab Sprout was “a virtual
orchestra, a pure artefact, being shaped in our studio”. An unfortunate
side-effect of this was the absence of Neil Conti; Wendy Smith and Martin
McAloon's contributions were also scaled back.
The first single off the CD, "A Prisoner Of The Past", quickly ascended into the top 30 while the album itself hit #7 in Great Britain.
Prefab Sprout toured in 2000, for the first time in ten years. Smith
was absent, having left the group after the birth of her first child,
though Neil had returned to play the drums. Jess Bailey also contributed,
The following year the new album surfaced; titled "The Gunman And Other Stories", it was released on a new label EMI and comprised mainly of the songs McAloon had written for other artists. The disc which had a vague theme centering around the American West, barely got a toehold on the chart debuting at #60.
While Prefab Sprout could never be called prolific in terms of physical
album releases, Paddy McAloon has continued to write and demo material
throughout the band's 20-plus-year career. In recent years McAloon has
dealt with a series of health issues, he began to suffer from meniere's
disease, losing hearing in one of his ears.
September 2009 saw the release of one of the band's many previously abandoned projects, "Let's Change The World With Music", being eleven of McAloon's original demos cleaned up by Calum Malcolm. The album debuted at #39 on the U.K. Top 100 chart.