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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2014
I was first introduced to Prefab Sprout, their music, I mean, I've never actually met them, though I should just say him, really, these days, meaning Paddy M., who always was anyway the main man or head honcho, by a school friend by the name, funnily enough, or I find it funny anyway, and did, of Flinders McGrath, at around the time that the 'Swoon' album was released, and oh, what joy I suffered, a mere boy, a mere boy awash with all those adolescent thoughts and feelings, adrift on an ocean of hormones and all that. McGrath and I would climb to the top of a tree, and with the aid of a very long extension cord, listen to that LP while looking out, and down, on our old hometown. I even petted quite heavily with a girl on a Welshman's bed to the tune of 'Steve McQueen', the record not the man. And having listened to this one twice now, on earphones, my resolve to do away with myself, such is my sorrow at time's passage, so sweet does the maestro's voice remain, is only stiffened.
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on 23 April 2015
Could not believe how good this was.
As a long time fan I assumed that Paddy had given up . But this has his best melodies , terrific singing , interesting lyrics.
The Old Magician is the best song he has written .
Paddy , you have still got it , so up the work rate - we need more of the same.
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on 26 June 2015
A beautifully crafted album by the great Paddy McAloon. Wow, tune after tune hits you very deeply. The song 'billy' should be released as a single. Would shoot to number one! Buy the album and enjoy!
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on 9 April 2017
Another great album
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on 7 October 2013
"You surely are a truly gifted kid / But you're only as good as the last great thing you did." These famous words from the Prefab Sprout song "Moving the River" echo in my mind as I listen to the new album "Crimson/Red" for the umpteenth time. Yes, songwriter Paddy McAloon is undoubtedly truly gifted, and this the last great thing he did makes him better than ever before.

"Crimson/Red" is nothing short of a miracle. McAloon has fought with eye problems and hearing problems for several years which would have broken lesser men, but notwithstanding these obstacles he managed to rise above them all to create an album so full of energy, confidence and musical intelligence it's truly heartwarming. Just listen to such a sweet gem of a pop song that is "Billy", and all cynical doubts about the power of music are dissolved. Or listen to such a slick and elegant number as "The Best Jewel Thief In the World", and you realize that Paddy McAloon is performing at the top of his game here.

"Crimson/Red" is really a record that wasn't meant to be. For contractual reasons, McAloon had to quickly pick these ten songs and then managed to record them at hyperdrive speed: it took less than two months to complete the album. The songs were picked from his unreleased projects, some of them date from 1997 ("Grief Built the Taj Mahal", "The Old Magician"), others were written in 2011 ("Billy"). It's safe to say that "Crimson/Red" is a kind of "greatest hits" album culled from McAloon's famously vast archive of unreleased songs.

Because of his health problems, Paddy McAloon was forced to play all instruments himself on the album. And he certainly deserves credit for making the record sound lively and timeless. It's even more flabbergasting when one contemplates the fact that he still uses his old 1987 Atari computer to arrange the music. Of course, the sound of the album would have been enriched with the addition of his former band members, but this reviewer firmly believes it is a much better thing to hear these songs performed by Paddy himself, than not being able to hear them at all.

"Crimson/Red" is a record which builds on the past glories of Prefab Sprout, while at the same time opens a door to future releases. There's really nothing nostalgic about this record, but when I listen to it I feel a kind of nostalgia about what is yet to come. This record will undoubtedly prove that there is an audience for Prefab Sprout's music, and that Paddy McAloon should be regarded as one of the most important songwriters of today - in short, he is a national treasure.

Prefab Sprout is back. And Paddy McAloon has through force of will and sleight of hand given us a tantalizing glimpse of his songwriting treasures. He's simply the best jewel thief in the world.
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on 7 October 2013
With their best album since the sublime Steve McQueen, Prefab Sprout are back with a bang, and the Old Magician himself, Paddy McAloon is on the toppest of top form. Bacharach and David, McCartney, Brian Wilson, Cole Porter - these are the standards by which you can measure Crimson/Red, and the combination of brilliantly witty and poignant lyrics, and melodic magnificence is here displayed in what Mr McAloon calls the 'strophic form' - magical choruses that lift the songs to new heights. This is one of those albums, Like Absent Friends by Divine Comedy, or Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole, where every track is a standout. In another review on here someone said he manages to make every song both immediately catchy and yet with something new to discover with each fresh hearing, and that is spot on. The List of Impossible Things is a yearningly emotional elegy, with lines like, "Sleeping on cold stone floors, engaged in some new noble cause; stretch out your hands to hold a grandeur that won't be controlled". The Old Magician brings tears to the eyes and Billy - well, I guarantee you'll be singing it around the house after two listens. This is unmissably good pop music.
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on 25 March 2016
I'm from the last century so I'm one of those people that think that that's when all the best music was written! These days I've been keeping half an ear out for any music by any band of any genre, that's got something very special. I heard a recent track by Prefab Sprout on Radio2 one day and thought it sounded nice, of course I remember their two hits from the 80's and assumed that that was pretty much it from them, so I was completely stunned to hear this amazing new album that in my mind is more wonderful, more uplifting and just much much better than anything I've heard this century! It's simply magical. Some music (like the theme tune from the archers for example) sticks in your head and you just want to get rid of it, but any of the complex melodies from this album can stick in your head, and make you feel cheerful all day!
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on 5 September 2016
Make no mistake this is an excellent album!, its the sort of CD that you like when you first hear it, then it just gets better, the type of CD you put on in the car and leave replaying for days and days! Paddy's songs are warm, beautifully written, and well performed, our favorites being, "Billy" and my preferred track "Devil came a calling", {although I personally think its too short, and needs a really meaty guitar solo play out, but I love it anyway}.So if you are a fan of Paddy's, buy it, you will not be disappointed! To miss quote Paddy, this album's like a fairground and I'm basking in the glow!
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on 11 October 2013
I'll start by saying that I am a long term Sprouts fan and have eagerly awaited the release of this album. The downside of being a Sprouts fan is that you end up with high expectations. Given the quality of the songs that have gone before, I was highly sceptical about any early comparisons with Steve McQueen and Jordan the Comeback. I've had the album for the best part of a week now and have played it around half a dozen times.

I'll start with the not so good.

Firstly, the album only has 10 songs lasting about 40 minutes. Like any Sprout fan, we would actually want more! Secondly, there are aspects of the production that are not particularly strong. That hasn't caused me too much concern, except when I have tried to play the CD in my car, or listen to it with headphones. Even on high quality headphones, Paddy's voice does not stand apart from the music. In an open room, however, production issues don't cloud what is good about this album, and that is the songs. Third, and I only say this so as to use an exception to prove a point. 'List of Impossible Things' is the one song on the album that has me singing the lyrics of an older Prefab Sprout song along to it. That older song is Dandy of the Danube, one of the B side songs from the King of Rock and Roll single. It's not that the songs are even similar, there is just a hint of similarity. That, however, doesn't stop List of Impossible Things from being a pretty good tune, however. The point I was trying to make is that the other 9 songs don't sound like reworkings of anything that has gone before. Delivering a set of fresh tunes is a challenge for any artist.

Now The Good;

This is a damn fine set of songs and no filler at all on this album. Yes, the songs have that Prefab Sprout sound, but each song stands on its own, and there are some well crafted gems here.

The Best Jewel Thief in the World. This song is catchy. The first time I heard it I thought that it would grate on me because I don't like instantly catchy songs at all, and usually tire of them after 2 or 3 listens. Having now heard this quite a few times over the last week, I have found that it is a catchy tune that is also a grower.

List of Impossible Things. A fine tune, but for me the weakest track on the album. However, as someone who consumes music as a glutton consumes food, weak in terms of this album is still damned good.

Adolescence. Curious with it's retro Atari sound, this is a song that throws lost of stuff at it, so much so that it shouldn't work on paper. On first listen, it didn't really work for me. However, now I would call it one of the stand out tracks on the album.

Grief Built The Taj Mahal. This is the song that sounds least like anything that has gone before, Sproutwise. The curious jangling almost sounded unstructured on first listen, but after hearing it a few times, it is another well crafted piece of work.

The Devil Came A Calling. My personal favourite on the album. Unusually for a Sprouts track, it relies heavily on an acoustic guitar, but very cleverly done.

Billy. An absolute classic of overblown enthusaism. The most confident track on the album. This song is good and it knows it!

The Dreamer. Dreamy and Gentle. I love the way that Paddy sings 'Now I'm just a dreamer, emerging from a dream'. From the same school as 'Where the heart is', but better than that.

The Songs of Danny Galway. Like The Best Jewel Thief in the World, this should also be annoying after a few listens. It sounds like it should be the theme to a popular ITV program. Very uplifting.

The Old Magician. Lyrically very pleasing. One of the album's gems.

Mysterious. The one song on the album that has managed to maintain it's mystery and the least familiar to me after a week of listening. The out of tune harmonica sound that holds this tune together is the most obvious element of the song after a few listens, while the song behind it does not seek to be bold or confident, just beautiful.

All in all, this is a wonderful collection of stories in song. Crimson/red, and many other colours on the palette besides. I did not want to give this 5 stars as I did not believe that Paddy would be capable of delivering something that would match my overhyped expectations. Reinforcing hype is something I find distasteful. However, 5 stars it is. the strength of the songs more than makes up for what is lacking in the production.

Comparisons with Jordan are a little early. However, in a year's time, I strongly suspect that it will have that accolade deservedly. This album looks like a strong candidate to pass the test of time.
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on 18 June 2015
Sorry, I have to be another of the few nay sayers. Swoon and Steve McQueen contained many interesting and unpredictably dynamic songs. This is a much blander collection, and becomes very noticeable after 5 or so songs in when you start to notice the vocal melody is repetitive and virtually the same both within a song and across many songs. "Here my voice is rising.... Now it's falling down again..." Sung to the tune of "Best Jewel Thief"... and several others. Noted the song about the devil getting Patrick to sign a contract, I suppose this was the price he ultimately paid. Still some decent lyrics, quite insightful and poetic sometimes, and pleasant sounding. Ultimately I won't still be listening to this years hence as I did with Swoon, it's just too.... wallpapery, it's a bit like listening to Kenny G when you like John Coltrane.
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