SUSAN ENAN - PLAINSONG
CHEAP TRICK - SGT. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

PREFAB SPROUT - LET'S CHANGE THE WORLD WITH MUSIC

SPROUT

It is coming on twenty years since Prefab Sprout were the critics darlings and hitting the charts a few times a year. When I mention their latest album to my students, even the older musical literate ones, no one has heard of them. What a shame. There has never been a more intelligent, well crafted, never mind emotionally and behaviourally accurate break up song than When Love Breaks Down; it should be given to every male when they turn sixteen. To achieve such psychological thesis in a top ten banker of a tune is very rare. Then there was Cars and Girls, a Bruce Springsteen critique that again was too smart to be so radio friendly but Prefab Spout made it work. The spiritual depth of One Of the Broken, that opened up exegesis on David and the Psalms, was another major achievement in lifting pop into the highest realms of art.

Yet, it has been twenty years, and actually this new album was written and demoed in 1993 but lands nine years into another century with the same lush beauty and pop hue that gave, the now reclusive and hardly able to hear and sing, Paddy McAloon the music magazine superlative of genius. Effortlessly catchy, cleverly written and stunningly crafted, Let’s Change the World With Music is what I have been attempting to write a book about for a good few years. That McAloon believes that music has power is not a surprise. Where I sat up and really started to listen was when I realised that he adds another vital contribution to the mix; God. For McAloon, music is a gift of God for the transformation of individuals and society. I wish it had been released before I did my dissertation on the same theory!

God is everywhere on Lets Change The World With Music. For McAloon the voice of God in our fallen world comes through music. His take on Genesis and the genesis of this album finds God speaking:

“Let there be music,

music will be...

and you shall hear my story,

you will glimpse my glory

and find a refuge

from the trouble that you see.”

 

Throughout the piece you’ll hear angels sing and sweet Gospel music will carry the heavy hearts, ignite the romance of love and the fire the acts of constructive change. On Ride people “walking in the footsteps of the Lord” know Jesus by their side. On Earth: The Story So Far the birth of Jesus comes with a message of salvation and love. God Watch Over You even suggests incredulously that McAloon is not a believer but is wearing out his knees praying for his children.

 

It is a remarkable piece of spiritual art coming from somewhere it might not be expected, though I guess those who loved the aforementioned One Of The Broken were warned of an interest. Whether the album is contemporary enough to have my students rediscover great albums like Steve McQueen and Jordan: The Comeback is not certain but as an album about music and faith it is a rich treasure trove for us theo-musicologists!

Comments

Pete Bate

I think this could be one of the musical 'gems' of the year. Mojo says Sony originally rejected the songs in 1992 because of their religious nature. Prefab Sprout, along with Talk Talk, are one of the forgotten bands of the 80s, whose influence reaches further than their commercial success ever could. Great review Steve. Hope you're well. All the best with the new job!

Jim

I use to listen to Prefab Sprout way back when and hadn't thought about them for years. Last week I was listening to a band called "Band of Skulls". One of the songs "Cold Fame" immediately made me think of the band. I'll have to check out the Prefab Sprout music again, I only had the Steve McQueen and Langly Park albums. Thanks for the post!

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