on 6 February 2010
It is almost incredible to think that there is probably no finer band that have advanced the pop music genre since the Beatles strummed their final chords on Abbey Road and yet, apart from a few hit singles in the 80s, Prefab Sprout are largely ignored by the music intelligensia.
Pick up any of their albums and start listening to it and you will be astounded at the beauty of what you hear. Paddy's obscure yet relevant lyrics, sung with an earnest, almost pleading singing style backed up by angelic backing vocals from Wendy and the tightest rhythm section this side of Sly and Robbie. All this coated with a gorgeous electronic production veneer from Thomas Dolby. The overall result is simply beautiful.
Jordan is the Sprout's fourth studio album and arguably their best. Swoon, Steve McQueen and Langley Park were wonderful albums, but Jordan is simply a delight from beginning to end. It's a huge collection of songs, almost operatic in structure with four separate acts comprising a set of tracks with a common theme or style. You can start listening to this album at the beginning of any of these acts. Whichever one you choose you are going to be guaranteed a delightful listening experience.
I'll just select a few songs to review in detail but honestly I could pick any of the tracks from this album and eulogize about them. `We let the Stars Go' sounds like something that the angels would sing in heaven. It reminisces about the joy that was had during a relationship; remember that gorgeous night when we let the stars go. Yeah, I think we can all remember at least one night like that.
For sheer pulsating energy and instant appeal, `Looking for Atlantis' is tremendously enjoyable. The lyrical sentiment and relentless beat of the track reminds me of the early Beatles. Think of, `You're gonna lose that girl' when you listen to `you should be loving someone'. I've always likened Paddy's `stretched' singing style to John Lennon's and the similarity is very evident in this track. The harmonica solo that is served up at the end of the track serves only to reinforce the similarity.
Later tracks on the album are concerned with the workings of God. You would never guess it from the title, but `Doo wap in Harlem' is probably the most perfect song ever written for a funeral. That's not much of an endorsement, I know, but it is such a beautifully paced lament for a lost loved one that it could melt the coldest of hearts. It even sounds like it was recorded in a church, with an organ humming along in the background and Paddy and Wendy harmonizing the lyrics to perfection.
So, there you have it. A few tracks to give you a flavor of the treats in store on this album. Trust me, the rest of the album is as good as these tracks and includes songs about love, God and more modern deities such as Elvis, Jesse James and even Abba! In fact, there are another sixteen tracks to enjoy. For anyone who has yet to discover this album, I am genuinely envious.
Prefab Sprout have produced four seminal albums with Swoon, Steve McQueen, Langley Park and Jordan. My favorite is Jordan, but they are all great and should feature in any serious musical collection. Later works by Prefab Sprout and some of Paddy's solo efforts are worthy but pale in comparison to the magnificent achievement embodied in these four fantastic albums. Here is a comeback I'd love to see. Perhaps, like the title track says, Prefab Sprout are just "waitin' for the right song, then they're comin' back".
on 23 May 2005
This: more ambitious that Steve McQueen, more tuneful than From Langley Park, more lyrical that Swoon. This is the most wonderful of the Sprout canon.
This masterpiece progresses through themes of the "worth" of music, Jesse James, Presley but hits its stride completely on the last 5 songs with a vaguely religious theme. OK, one of them is even "sung" by God. If this album only had "One Of The Broken", "Mercy" and "Doo Wop In Harlem" on it it would still be in my top ten.
If ever an album didnt get the praise it desereved..this must be up there with them! the beautiful innocence of "steve mcqueen" but with a million pounds of production! its big on an epic classic pure scale! as polished as ABC's "lexicon of love" as true as prefabs "steve mqueen" (you cant beat the best) or as a big concept album in line with a kate bush album!
this album is pure class from start to finish! yes not every single track is amzing but they are few and far between! both paddy and wendy step out of the shadows and deliver some amazing vocals!
"looking for atlantis" opens the album and is pop heaven..lush production, lush vocals..its like "appetite" with a million pounds behind it!
"wild horses" has always been a big favourite of mine - its innocence and purity...you can almost smell summer!
"machine gun ibiza" is ok - one of the weaker tracks, "we let the stars go" was the 2nd single and an odd choice, yes its beautiful and simple like all the best of prefab but its a bit lost as a single. "carnival 2000" was released as part of an ep...(a last ditch attempt to have a huge hit!) its great..big brassy and would have made an ace single if it was released 6 months earlier to tie in with the new decade!
"jordan" was part of the e.p. as well.. again a stand out track..one of their best! "jesse james" and "bolero" arent that good but with 19 tracks you cant have perfection all the time!
"moondog" is ok and "all the world loves lovers" (released as a single with greatest hits) is brilliant!!!
"all boys" may only have one one line..but its a good one..and is a great track! "ice maiden" was on the e.p. as well and listening to it now i think robbie williams stole the introduction for "rock dj"..a great track!
"paris smith" is the honest simple classy prefab number..."wedding march" although not what you would expect is corny and humorous..."one of the broken" is a song by god..its not paddy getting bigheaded..its a great track...."mercy" is a lovely acoustic number till it goes into U2 at their finest..big guitars..big vocals..big production!
"scarlet nights" is back to pure beauty in singing and songwriting as in "doowop in harlem"
anyone who has thought of buying this album will not be disappointed...i promise! it may be prefab sprouts finest hour!
In 1992, desperate for something new to listen to on a lengthy train journey, I borrowed the tape of this album from a housemate. The weekend ended and I returned the tape but for weeks afterwards I was caught by the same housemate humming melodic vignettes from JORDAN. I relented and bought the thing and for over fifteen years it has remained a firm favourite. This is an essential album. Buy it. Live it. Love it.
on 14 October 2004
A work of the highest quality from a writer, band and producer at the top of their game, this stands head and shoulders above anything by the Sprouts or anyone else in terms of ambition allied to sheer pop nous. Instantly grabbing attention with Looking for Atlantis, Thomas Dolby's kitchen sink production enhances but never swamps the songs. Machine Gun Ibiza is sly wah-wah soul, Moondog a lyrically dazzling celebration of Elvis & Americana. Elvis lives - on the moon! ("....guess who's on the moon? Up there a flag will fly - yes, sir! - for mom and apple pie"). We Let The Stars Go awash with harps, strings and yearning, The Ice Maiden stuffed full of hooks, and containing the best pause in pop ("..... welcome to the glow"). The gospel-ish One of the Broken even drags a tear from an infidel like me. Drummer Neil Conti deserves special mention, playing with taste and drive as required, particularly on the opener and Scarlet Nights. And Wendy adds that feminine touch - she was missed on the last UK tour, havin' a baby.
It's no accident that their most artistically successful albums - this and Steve McQueen - had Neil and Thomas - and Wendy - on board. It's the unit that works; the songs are great, but the performance is the thing. There are rumours afoot that they may yet work together again.
In the years following its release it figured in all-time top lists for a while, but inexplicably faded from popular consciousness, and rarely gets a mention, while lesser fare is lauded to the heights.
This is one of the best albums ever made. Love it, or else!
on 12 October 2000
There was an almost three year gap between their 1987 album "From Langley Park To Memphis" and the release of their "Jordan The Comeback" album and although this album is not as pop sounding as their last and is more downbeat, dark and obscure it is still equally as brilliant. The album is once again produced by the legendary producer Thomas Dolby, which gives the band's sound a unique edge, with a Dolby's keyboard and electronic driven sound balancing out the more rock based style of the band. The album was a noticeably more low key release and despite the fact that there are no commercial hit singles on the album, the album is very mature and has a deep and complex feel to it and is more emotional and spiritual in nature than anything the band have ever done before and has a style which is reminiscent of Christians later releases. The album contains some excellent soft rock tracks such as "All The World Loves Lovers", "Doo-Wop In Harlem", "Wild Horses" and "Machine Gun Ibiza", which are as good as anything the band have ever released. Overall it's an excellent album and a pleasant change from a lot of the more commercially based rock albums of the decade.
on 14 July 2001
Ask around amongst enough music afficianados for their favourite album and there's a good chance that Jordan will be mentioned.
That's because it's breathtaking music. Soaring melodies, gorgeous harmonies, moving, intelligent lyrics - this is definitely music for grown-ups. Which is probably why it hasn't achieved the profile it deserves amongst magazine music critics.
But if you enjoy David Gray, Travis, Radiohead, Aztec Camera, Nick Drake or any thoughtful, melancholy music don't miss out on this magnificent, landmark album.
on 21 July 2013
I wish I could give this album 10 stars. It deserves them as much as "Steve McQueen". It is such a complete album !!... If I had to choose a fav, I guess it would be "All the world loves lovers" or "Wild horses" but I love the whole album. They are elegance in its most pure state.
Paddy is specially inspired on this piece of art. It could have been a double album with two clearly separated sides. The ten first songs and the last ten. More poppy and accesible the first part and more intimistic the second one.
Whatever it is, if you haven't buy it, DON'T HESITATE TO DO IT, BY NOW!!
on 30 October 2003
Dont ever be without it...don't ever admit to not having it...?
A masterpiece of musical proportions with a deep, religious? and original title..."Jordan the Comeback". It starts in a blaze of glory with "Looking for Atlantis"...an explosive intro with fast moving drums and angelic harmonies.
"Wild Horses" is also terrific ...a cleverly written for our equine friends. However the tone/mood of the album changes throughout its so cosmopolitan ...A Prefab Sprout "White album", if you like.
Good value at 19 songs.
on 2 October 2006
Always a fascinating album, a concept album if you will. Working out what the concept is is part of the fun. Wonderful value too in its time. A fine combination of pop and ambition. I still think it's their finest work.