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4.9 out of 5 stars
75
4.9 out of 5 stars
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From a little sleepy village just outside of durham came a songwriter whos purity and simple yet clever lyrics still send a shiver up and down my spine! langley park is a simple place...easy going and uncomplicated..simple and homely and reflected in paddys lyrics! (advertisement for a visit to durham over!)

the album received so much acclaim and hung around the charts for months without ever having a huge hit but 1984 was the time of culture club, duran and the new romantics and the pure guitar based pop only evolved later in the 80s with texas, the kane gang and such like!

it was a masterpeice beyond its time and still sounds as good today over 20 years later..from the rockabily/country pop of "faron young" and "when the angels" to the perfect pop of "appetite" and "goodbye lucille" to the heart stopping classics like "when love breaks down" "bonny" and "desire as".

cd 2 is paddys acoustic set and the songs arrangements put a whole different sound to the songs on the first album.."desire as" is amazing!

weather you are looking to revisit the pureness of your youth..analyse the amazing vocals and lyrics or simply was an amazing feel good summer album to play in the car this cd is a MUST HAVE!
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on 7 July 2007
Judging by the reviews below I am not the only just-turned-forty-year-old for whom listening to Steve McQueen is essential balm for the mid-life crisis. I remember seeing the Sprouts several times while at university and bought the original, what we now know to be first (according to the chronology of when the songs were written rather than when the album was released), album upon release. I had played through three vinyl copies by the time the kids arrived and the record player departed; no doubt my most played and most loved album ever. So there you are, I've declared my bias.

So what is it? Well, a version of the CD remastered by original producer Thomas Dolby (with a very substantial increase in sound quality) and a second disc of acoustic versions of the same songs. And unlike so many Legacy Edition-style projects where the supplementary disc is just window dressing, here it is THE MAIN EVENT. So do you need it? YES!!!!

Some quotes from Kitchenware Records boss Keith Armstrong from the launch press release provide some interesting insights:

"Paddy did the new acoustic versions last summer - we were laughing because they took longer than the original album. It was partly due to Paddy's inherent perfectionism. It's ironic that doing a simple record of songs took him three times as long as it did to complete the fully polished original album - but that's Prefab Sprout in a nutshell."

"Actually, it was Paddy who suggested, `Why not do them acoustically and see how they sound?' And because his voice is deeper and more experienced now, it sounded like a great idea."

"I like the songs with all the glitter and polish, but I also like them this way. I thought they'd be just his acoustic guitar and voice, but he rearranged them quite differently. It was exciting. I was expecting straight guitar and vocals, but because his voice had changed and because of the changes in arrangement I was blown away."

Listening to this disc answered a question that I realized has been lurking somewhere in the back of my mind for the last twenty years: why doesn't anyone cover Paddy's songs? They are after all some of the most beautiful ballads ever written. Well here is the answer, eight mindblowing covers by the man himself. Listen to track 3, "Desire As" as you've never heard it before. Extended to 7'08" with over two minutes of instrumental intro, it will send shivers down your spine. Surely, nobody else could have done it better and perhaps that's why nobody ever tried. Just too painfully perfect for words.

No, nobody is better qualified to cover Paddy than Paddy, and I for one am eternally grateful that he did. I note that none of the reviewers here have bestowed less than 5 stars. And I expect that all, like me, would have given six if they could. So all this only leaves one question; when will we see the acoustic versions on vinyl??
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on 27 August 2008
I had a hard time finding good music in the 80's to enjoy, and tended to favour the likes of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, the Waterboys, and of course Prefab Sprout, over what was happening in the mainstream world of groups like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet - all of which was more of a triumph of style over substance, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, one of the real delights of the mid eighties was Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen, which I played to death for about 2 years! It has to be one of the most consistent gems of pop music, and the release really brought home to anyone who had failed to notice, what a superb songwriting talent we have with Paddy MacAloon - that rare ability to write not just great lyrics, but to be able to wrap them up in hooks and melodies that get totally stuck in your head.

This re-release deserves it's 5 stars, not just for the wonderful job of re-mastering that has now been performed on the original album, but also for the true joy that the acoustic album has brought me. Others here have said that it's worth getting Legacy for the acoustic bonus CD alone, which stands up on it's own merits, and I would add my agreement to that view. Desire As brought a tear to my eye!

I just wish Paddy MacAloon would do a bit more touring. I lost touch with the Sprouts a bit over the last 15 years, but would just add that a few years ago I picked up the 2001 album The Gunman and Other Stories, after hearing the beautiful track 'Cornfield Ablaze' late one night on Radio 2's Janice Long show. It's also a lovely album, for anyone who doesn't know it. But get this first!
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on 26 July 2007
This is just the finest collection of pop songs ever written. They have aged beautifully and the acoustic versions are so warm and soothing. It's so great to read all the reviews below and know that other people feel so passionate about this music. Goodbye Lucille will still sends shivers down my spine on every listen.

Thomas Dolby wrote some great songs too - check out Screen Kiss (by the Umajets).
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on 23 March 2007
How do you improve on perfection? The original release of Steve McQueen was the crowning achievement of both Paddy McAloon (the Sprouts' resident genius) and producer Thomas Dolby. The fact that the album is remastered to an immaculate finish is enough to thrill any fan. It's a masterpiece that reveals just how powerful great composition can be when coupled with exquisite production. But the "expanded" segment of this release is what will overwhelm listeners. Paddy, in stark solo acoustic performances, manages to reinvent eight of the 11 songs on the original album.

Now, I must admit, I didn't have high expectations when I heard Paddy's long awaited next project was an acoustic rehash of old material. It has been long reported that Paddy is hoarding a cache of songs (maybe a dozen albums or more). For much too long, those compositions have remained cellared like aging wine, leaving fans to wait in tortured anticipation of their release. The eight remakes in this expanded edition of "Steve McQueen," however, are so radically reconceived that it's like hearing new material.

The acoustic performances highlight not only the clarity of Paddy's vocal cadences, they isolate Mac's precise chording and his mastery of guitar. The mix is so intimate, the sound so warm, you can almost feel Paddy's breath on your ears. The stripped down sound of Prefab Sprout's "The Gunman" album is pretty much duplicated here.

So drastically are these songs rearranged that they seem to take on entirely new meanings and dimensions. "Appetite," surveying the pitfalls of sexual desire, is less harsh in acoustic form. Without the whip-like percussion of "Faron Young," in its original incarnation, the song takes on a more serene edge with dollops of richly enchanting calliope sounds. The most radical treatment is given to "Desire As," which features an extended introduction with new words and an epic style reminiscent of the great Jimmy Webb.

Perhaps the most surprising element of these new versions are the lyrics. Songs I thought I knew by heart, surprise with words I'd never noticed in the originals. In "Moving the River," for instance, I always knew the line "turkey hungry, chicken free," but I never noticed "bucket by spoon: do you think that they'll like me when they learn what I do?" The classic opening of "Desire As," was always a favorite: "I've got six things on my mind: you're no longer one of them." But in the reworked version, the following line is highlighted and repeated over and over: "desire is a sylph figured creature who changes her mind." "Faron Young," meanwhile, adds it's lonely late night driving rhythms with allusions to "warships in the Baltic" and "stumbling onto Pearl Harbor without warning." The words were always there: they just never seemed to resonate as clearly as they do here.

Juxtaposed against the brilliance of the original album, it's hard to say just which performances are better: the acoustic ones or the originals. They are both inspired in their own way. Plagued by worrisome health problems over the course of the past decade, it's comforting to know Paddy is alive and well-- and sounding better than ever. Perhaps one day we'll be blessed with more new material from Paddy. Until then, this will do just fine.
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on 25 June 2004
Steve Mcqueen is simply peerless. Paddy's song writing has always been emphatic, but throughout this album he reaches a standard that has established his reputation as one of the most outstanding song writers of our time.
I grew up to this Album, and every track represents a nostalgic moment from my youth. But I put it on the other day, and the magic of the Sprouts is as strong today as ever. I was privilaged to see them play in Manchester during the Jordan tour, and they were at thier best when playing the songs from Steve Mcqueen.
Buy this and you will have a lyrical muscial experience to treasure forever!
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on 21 January 2008
Wow....... let me say that again ..... wow.....
Just heard that Bobby Fischer died.... so I thought I'd play
Cue Fanfare as a tribute at home in the kitchen. An hour later
I searched for McAloon on YouTube and I was away on a Prefab bout
of reverie.

Then I heard these new acoustic versions.......OH MY GOD they are
just toe-curlingly beautiful....... differnt angles on familiar
melodies.... lyrics that were hidden that now come alive. "save your
speeches...flowers are for funerals..." just make me want to fall down
on the floor it's so good......

This is more than a gem..... I want to tell everyone who ever heard
of Prefab Sprout to hear this record now.....

Brian in Stockholm
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on 1 March 2009
This is one of the truly great albums - a slightly melancholic, hugely romantic, eighties masterpiece. And it's important to state it's from the eighties, because no other decade could have created the futuristic, slightly tacky, electro grandueur that informs the production of this album and adds to its modernist decadence.

The other key element is the songwriting, which is magnificent. As a lyricist, Paddy McAloon is the Cole Porter of Tyne and Wear. His insights into love, jealousy, adult cynicism and naive adolescence strip us all to the bone and betray how many aspects of our secret selves are not so secret after all. And he does it with beautiful melodies...
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on 21 January 2011
I moved house a few years ago and my vinyl went into what I now accept to be permenent storage. Much of it I will never miss but there are albums that I missed and Steve Mcqueen was one of them.
I finally bit the bullet and bought the remastered CD copy.
I was a bit worried that my memory of the album would be better than the reality or that the remastering would break the magic but my anxiety was misplaced.
Like a teenager I played it over and over with the lyrics spilling back into my memory.
It is still one of the finest records I ever bought and for an album that is, in some ways, lyrically downbeat it doesn't bring you down.
I didn't play the second CD for some weeks while I reaquainted myself with the originals but was stunned by how the songs came through in the stripped down versions.
I know I love the original more, but a lot of that has to do with the memories that are attached to a time 25 years ago when it had a permenent place on my turntable. If I had heard the reworked versions back then it might be harder to choose.

It is near impossible to pidgeon hole this album into a genre, a bit like Wichita Lineman it defies catagorisation
If you like indie-pop buy this album, if you appreciate a finely crafted song buy this album, if you want to find out what good stuff was kicking around in the eighties buy this album, but do buy it, it is a true gem.
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on 19 October 2009
Please take care when buying this album, as it is like buying musical Heroin. Once the sweets sound grace your CD player or i-pod you will never look back - it really is that good - every reviewer here is telling the truth.

I had never really listened to any Prefab Sprout before getting 'Steve McQueen' - now I think i'm there biggest fan.

I have had to listen to this album every day since I bought it 2 weeks ago and still can't get enough of it - I need something else to ween myself off of it.... but what?..... I know, all there other albums!!!

Paddy, your an 80's legend. Keep up the good work.
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