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on 23 April 2007
Well, I was there back in 1985 when this album was a must-have and was played in student halls of residence up and down the country. It was just about perfect then, and still is.

The revelation is the bonus disc of acoustic versions: this on its own would qualify as one of the best albums of 2007, a 're-release' or not.

It doesn't matter if you're not a Sprouts fan: if you appreciate quality music of the sensitive singer-songwriter variety, I can't imagine how anyone wouldn't love this acoustic material. As a huge fan of Elliott Smith and The Blue Nile, this is now one of those indispensable albums of staggering beauty and subtlety.

Still some of the best lyrics every written:

"The sunlight makes a fence out of the forest

But here I am with head inside the bonnet ...

I've lost just what it takes to be honest."

Paddy's voice is exceptional, light and intimate in tone, hitting some rare and beautiful low notes here for a change. The multi-layered acoustic guitars create a detailed fabric of warm sound which, even without a vocal, would be worth a listen on its own.

It's very rare I get this enthusiastic about 'new' music, but this is exceptional. The kind of record you want to tell all your friends about. Makes you want to say God Bless Paddy, and without a trace of irony. Makes you want to swoon ... a lot!
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on 15 January 2012
The Prefab Sprout masterpiece that is STEVE McQUEEN is well known by now by those who seek intricate yet accessible pop songs with intelligent lyrics with a startling poetic intensity...So, the very special reason for buyng this particular remastered version of that masterpiece is the extra disc of acoustic, unplugged versions, which are out of this world...Yes, Paddy McAloon has done the unthinkable. He's interfered with his magnum opus and, well, made it better. The acoustic versions on the extra disc strip the original songs to their basics, but in doing so highlight the exceptional lyrics (it's often about the boldness of carefully placed repetitions of words and phrases that quickly gain in intensity) and Paddy's bittersweet sensitive vocals. The achingly long double-tracked guitar intro to 'Desire As' is utterly magnificent, one of many unexpected highlights in how it offers a heartbreaking deferred gratification on a poignant scale that eventually leads to the greatest of Prefab Sprout songs. There are so many breathtakingly wonderful moments on this extra disc that I won't spoil your enjoyment by attempting to list them. Anyway, you will have your own favourite moments, which is really what matters in the long run. This music reaches out in a subtle, intelligent, infectiously catchy way.

The original album is perfect as it stands, but the extra tracks on the second disc are more than anyone who loves Prefab Sprout could have hoped for. Make a friend of this album and you will never be alone.
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on 13 May 2016
One of the best song writers ever with a brilliant producer. Only with time and perspective does the true value of this album in its various forms stand up. Re recorded, re mastered or just on the plain compact cassette that i fist played it end to end, endlessly. The craftsmanship, the melodies, the melancholy. I cannot recommend this album highly enough. There isn't a highlight or a filler, there is light and shade. Sadly so often played that I could probably just hear a initial note or chord and play the whole thing on in my head. I recommend you familiarise yourself until you too can do the same. It will be time and emotion well invested.
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on 18 August 2007
i grew up as a teenager in the eighties, while friends bopped to 'a-ha' or rocked to 'status-quo' i quietly pursued the works of Mr. Mcaloon and Co., during these formative years it was he along with Matt johnson (the The) and Morrisey/Marr that taught me the 'rules' of good song writing.
So with great joy i discovered that Paddy had re-recorded a collection of songs from his definitive masterpiece 'Steve McQueen'.
I played the CD of the new workings once, I cried, I played it again, i laughed, I played it time and time again, each time renewing different emotions re-released from a decade long gone. i played it home, I played it in the car, at work, I ran thru the fields naked chanting the lyrics to 'bonny'.....ok slight embelishment...anyhow,
Paddy, thanks for this rework, thanks for eveything you've ever done, no one has ever or will ever compare to you.
you are the Master!!
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on 21 April 2007
Got this for my birthday and am so so pleased. Have loved Sprout since my sixth-form days (quite a while ago...)and have yet to find another songwriter who quite hits the mark the way Paddy McAloon does. Rediscovering much-loved Steve McQueen tracks on the accoustic disk, so creatively and beautifully done, is quite mind-blowing. Paddy's voice is richer and even more expressive these days. For fans who already have Steve McQueen from first time round, I cannot emphasise enough - get this new one. For those who have yet to discover Prefab Sprout - there's a fantastic back catalogue awaiting you out there.
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on 16 March 2017
Not as good as I remembered it being
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on 19 April 2007
Steve McQueen is an album I've been hoping to be re-mastered for years, along with Prefab's other great album, Jordan: The Comeback. Jordan was an incredible album packed with great songs diverse both musically and lyrically. SM was, however, more ethereal in its production with a sound that really has not been duplicated, ever. Most people who listened to their first record, Swoon, are aware that Thomas Dolby, the producer, had an enormous influence on the outcome of SM. Not only is the production different but the structure of the songs is better crafted. Having at first listened to SM as a record, I always felt that the CD version lacked depth. It must be added that the CD version I am used to is the American version of SM (called Two Wheels Good because the estate objected to the title). That version included a fantastic extended version of Faron Young, a great county cover of He'll Have To Go and one more track. When Love Breaks Down is also in an inferior state on Two Wheels Good, being slightly edited and mixed

Now, more than 20 years after its initial release the album has been re-released, re-mastered by Thomas Dolby himself. The extra tracks from Two Wheels Good are nowhere to be found. That is understandable since Dolby had nothing to do with that production and they were also not really part of the original Steve McQueen release. On a brighter note, the better version of When Love Breaks Down is intact.

Although some recent re-mastered versions have improved the sound quality significantly, often it is simply because the transfer to the CD was initially incredibly sloppy. Despite not being satisfied with the sound quality of Two Wheels Good, I cannot say that it was bad. Many CD releases in their early stages simply were substandard and TWG was actually above the average for that period sound quality wise. This makes the difference even more astonishing. It is as if the music was transferred into 3-D. Not only is there (much) added depth, the clarity and yet softness is way beyond what I am used to. I even suspect that Dolby may have done some subtle re-mixing to obtain this effect because this is better than most productions done even in today's standards. The only re-release that I can think of having been re-mastered closely as well is Fleetwood Mac's recent 2-CD edition of Rumours, but that version was initially transferred in an atrocious manner. This re-mastered version would be worth the price alone.

There is, however, an extra CD included in this release. Paddy McAloon decided to re-record acoustically 8 of the 11 songs from SM, as opposed to the usual demo/different versions/live versions/omitted tracks route. This is admirable both in regards of bothering to set so much effort in a re-release project (recording of the acoustic set took supposedly much longer than the initial one) and also taking the chance re-recording classics that probably are a hard act to follow. What surprised me is how complex the arrangements are. Instead of Paddy strumming through the tracks with a guitar in his hands, most of the songs are complex interactions of guitars woven together. Many of them are also re-arranged in a fashion that they are almost like different songs. This works well on most of the songs but it most be kept in mind that in general people listening to these tracks are biased, being used to the older versions, including me.

The standout track is, surprising, Desire As. The acoustic version is almost unrecognizable from the original one and, dare I say, better than the original one. Another track which falls into that category is When the Angels, a lovely version that brings the text more to life. The two tracks that I feel are lacking are Bonny and Goodbye Lucille #1. Bonny is my favorite Prefab Sprout track, period, so maybe that makes it simply almost impossible for me being unbiased, but the singing is way below Paddy's usual standards and the arrangement lacks cohesion. Goodbye Lucille #1 needed actually more re-arranging because the vocal interaction makes the song special but with only one voice it does not work out. Faron Young has a Western feel in this arrangement and becomes very addictive after a few listens. When Love Breaks Down, however, has a sweet feel, approaching the performance with a gentle approach once again but from a different angle. Trying to maintain an objective stance, I rate this version as a 4 star record.

This set, however, is a 5 star project, both sonically and musically and very worth purchasing, both for those who own it already and others who still lack one of the most ethereal and stunningly produced releases in the last few decades.
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on 21 May 2003
When answering the eternal question "what is your favourite album of all time?",the usual suspects come to mind...Revolver,Aja,It's too late to stop now......However it is this album'Steve McQueen'that wins out each time.It is quite simply superb;from the country parody of Faron Young to When the Angels,each track creeps up on you and stays forever.Having originally owned the vinyl version,I must admit that side 2 was neglected for some time due to the strength of side 1.However this only delayed the pleasure of discovering the gems on this side.I cannot recommend this album highly enough.
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Following on from their hugely promising February 1984 debut "Swoon", England's PREFAB SPROUT took many English and Irish hearts by storm in the summer and autumn of 1985 with their stunning 2nd album "Steve McQueen". Rated by many as being in the Top 50 albums of all time, this April 2007 2CD LEGACY EDITION is a long overdue remastered celebration of that bedsit staple.

Here's the layout first - Disc 1 (45:13 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Steve McQueen " issued in June 1985 on Kitchenware Records KW 3 in the UK (Vinyl, Cassette and CD). The US version was called "Two Wheels Good" for contractual reasons and was issued on Epic 40100. The US CD version contained 3 bonus tracks - "Faron Young (Truckin' Mix)", "The Yearning Loins" and "He'll Have To Go" - they were not included on the UK version - nor unfortunately included here on this reissue either. This Legacy reissue is remastered by original producer THOMAS DOLBY at The Mastering Lab in Los Angeles - he also contributes recollections to the liner notes.

Disc 2 (35:00 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 8 are brand new acoustic re-interpretations by Paddy McAloon (band's principal songwriter) of 8 tracks from the original 11 - they were recorded across the summer of 2006.

The 2CDs are housed in a card gatefold digipak (where's the Legacy Edition Protective Plastic outer wrap?), have motorbike logos on the CDs and a scant 12-page booklet with liner notes by PAUL LESTER. There are some new photos - outtakes from the album cover shoot, but bizarrely the original inner sleeve of the LP depicting the members of the band and giving recording details - is missing. But worse is the lack of musical extras. Between October 1984 and as late as February 1986, no less than 6 singles came off the album in the UK - When Love Breaks Down was put out 3 times - Faron Young, Appetite and Johnny Johnny were issued also - between them and their multiple formats, they produced as many as 12 unreleased B-sides and mixes. As you can see from the playing time on both discs, there was plenty of room for remasters of these rarities. They will probably never see the light of day now - which is maddening - especially on a supposed collector's edition. However, the other way of looking at it is this - presented as is - this reissue forces you to focus 'only' on the album proper - and the new acoustic tracks - and as they stand - they make for a truly sensational listen. So I can see why McAloon would want the album presented in this way, it's just disappointing not to see those non-album tracks that are not on CD anywhere...

Which brings us to the 1st part of the good news - THE SOUND. Like many who've loved this wonderful record, I've had the cramped vinyl LP and dull sounding original CD for over 20 years now - hoping for a good reissue of it at some point. Well this Thomas Dolby remaster is just BEAUTIFUL - clean, muscular and full of presence. Hearing the sublime "Bonny" in this sound quality is a treat no music lover should be without - and that synth solo - wow! And when you think of how awful a lot of Eighties music sounds now - so dated and over-produced - musically the whole album still holds it own. So many great tracks "Moving The River", "Desire As" and the Johnny Johnny song "Goodbye Lucille No.1" A really sweet remaster by Dolby. But the real fireworks start on Disc 2...

Few would have expected that Acoustic Reinterpretations would be this good - or even rival and better the originals - but here they do. It's hard to understate just how stunning these beautifully recorded remakes are - I've been playing them to buggery for over 18 months now and still don't tire of them. I made up a shop-play disc of 7 tracks from Ryan Adams' "Easy Tiger" album from 2007 with 7 from this - and every time I play it, it never fails to bring customers to the counter with looks of 'discovery' on theirs faces wanting to know "Who is this!!!"

To sum up - despite the ok-only packaging and lack of those b-sides - this is a 5-star reissue of a 6-star album - a must buy.

December 2009 Update: see also two reviews for "From Langley Park To Memphis" and "Jordan: The Comeback" on Japan-Only 2009 SHM-CD Remasters (Super High Materials)
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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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