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Prefab Sprout

After reading English at Newcastle, minister’s son Paddy McAloon formed Prefab Sprout with his girlfriend Wendy (“Smithy”) and his bass-playing younger brother Martin.

The trio produced a flood of extraordinary songs that drew on sources as diverse as The BeatlesSteely Dan and George Gershwin.


On their first album,  Swoon – recorded in 1983 for just £5000 – tracks like CruelTechnique and Elegance were wry and sparkling explorations of loss and desire that made everyone except Elvis Costello and Morrissey look like the peddlers of inanity they truly were.

Prefab Sprout released a second CBS album, Steve McQueen, in 1985, at which point McAloon mischievously announced that he was “probably the best writer on the planet”.

Produced by pop boffin Thomas Dolby, the record almost bore the challenge out – a collection of songs even more swoonworthy than Swoon.

Disappointingly, major mainstream success eluded the group after several attempts to hype the lovely When Love Breaks Down into the Top Twenty failed, but consolation perhaps came when Steve McQueen made the NME‘s list of the best hundred LPs ever made.

McAloon developed serious problems with his eyes – a condition where the retina spontaneously detaches and washes off the eye.


The condition and subsequent treatment and operation (understandably) slowed down his creative output in the 90s and the band released only two albums – Jordan (1990) and Andromeda Heights (1998).

Paddy McAloon
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Wendy Smith

Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Martin McAloon

Neil Conti