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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, tracks like Cruel, Technique 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.


By the time Prefab Sprout’s debut album (recorded for just £5,000) was released in 1984, McAloon had been honing his songwriting for nine years.

When the band released a second CBS album, Steve McQueen, in 1985, 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. The album peaked at #21 in the UK but disappointingly, major mainstream success eluded the group after several attempts to hype the lovely When Love Breaks Down into the Top Twenty failed. Consolation perhaps came when Steve McQueen made the NME‘s list of the best hundred LPs ever made.

From Langley Park To Memphis (1988) included the tracks Hey Manhattan! and Cars and Girls (which reached #44 in the UK). The biggest hit from the LP was The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll, which became Prefab Sprout’s only Top 10 single, reaching #7.

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).

In the wake of Andromeda Heights, two significant events happened to Prefab Sprout. They left Kitchenware and a year later they actually toured.

Sadly, they were probably the band’s last shows as Paddy McAloon’s hearing problems make playing live impossible for him now.

Paddy McAloon
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Wendy Smith

Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Martin McAloon

Neil Conti