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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 August 2017
On paper this might seem unlikely to be a classic album: Prefab Sprout have been around for a long time now, and despite some consistently solid albums (I do like "Andromeda Heights"), you might have thought that Paddy McAloon's finest days were behind him, back in the heady days of "Steve McQueen" and "Swoon". This one's even better, though. No, really.
By all accounts, the album was compiled and recorded at white-hot speed, without much time for revision or reconsideration, and maybe that was the secret. Whatever: something clearly went very right.
Almost every song is a stone-cold classic. Wryly funny opener 'The best jewel thief in the world' is a typically offbeat and witty love song; 'List of Impossible Things' is in the same vein - heady stuff. 'Adolescence' is an unexpectedly tender paean to teenagerhood; then there's the simple but effective 'Grief built the Taj Mahal' (the title tells you everything you need to know).
'Devil came a Calling' is both funny and unsettling: 'he showed me some papers; he said that they were signed. My memory is hazy: I'm sure that I declined...'
I won't attempt to describe the 4 minutes 37 seconds of sunshine that is 'Billy' - if you don't know it yet, what are you waiting for?
I won't go through the last four track-by-track, but I do have to mention 'The Old Magician': a cheap vaudeville act as a sort of Everyman for the ageing human being. Short but devastating (and in sneaky 7/4 time too!).
Definitely my favourite album of 2013.
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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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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2013
So, the old magician takes the stage again,and I for one am baffled by his tricks. Yes, I appear to own everything since Jordan The Comeback, but the odd song aside (how beautiful is Andromeda Heights?) I really thought the magic had gone.

Then, one day, stuck on the M25, I hear Jewel Thief and am transported back to the late 80s when Paddy was a giant. What a song! The album was ordered and delivered as quick as quick can be, and now I can luxuriate in 10 lovely new Sproutrock songs.

OK, I haven't quite "bonded" with Danny Galway, but in Jewel Thief, The Old Magician, Taj Mahal, etc, you have the finest set of Sproutsongs since the Twin Peaks of Jordan and Steve McQueen.

And as for The Dreamers, if a finer song has been released this year I want to know about it.
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on 12 October 2013
OK, we fans miss Mr MacAloon and are bound to get a bit excited when he serves up another helping of his genius,but this must be his best album for the best part of 20 years, if not more. As another reviewer said, something's going on with 80s songwriters at the moment - Deacon Blue, Lloyd Cole and now Prefab Sprout have produced their finest works for many years recently - whatever it is, long may it continue!

The only downside I can see is that it isn't a band album - I'd have loved to have heard Wendy's breathless vocal swooshes, Neil's drumming and Martin's bass. But there's a much broader musical and instrimental palette than on recent releases, a real lightness of touch and plenty of those Prefab moments that make you smile, tug your heartstrings or both.

I don't know the individual songs well enough yet to write about them in detail but there's energy, wistfulness, intelligence, humour and of course moments of the sublime, all with Paddy's voice at it's melodic best. None of the tracks could be confused with anyone else, this is most definitely a Prefab Sprout album and, in my view, one of the best. And that's the greatest recommendation I can give for what's a very fine record indeed.
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on 20 October 2013
2013 will be remembered as the "Return Year": Bowie, Mc Cartney... Prefab Sprout. To my ears and to my heart this is the best return in 2013. A very moving CD, a masterpiece consisting of superb songs with no fillers. If you used to love Prefab Sprout you'll find again this passion and if you do not know them, take this opportunity to discover how poetry can be combined with music. Not so easy in these days. So they deserve 5 stars.... and they will win 6 stars when the original band will be together again: I miss Wendy's voice on this CD, a real drummer (Conti... where are you?) and the experimental production of Thomas Dolby. Paddy, please don't be lazy and join again your companions as this CD is great but sometimes the music seems too much Prefab and not natural.... but nobody will complain for a good cake, even if there are not cherries!!! Love to Prefab Sprout and Paddy 4ever!
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on 8 December 2013
Of course I'm biased with Steve McQueen still my all time favourite album, and everything since being as good as contemporary music gets. This Prefab Sprout album stands respectably alongside everything else in Paddy's back catalogue. There's not a duff track on it and there is a good handful of standout songs. "Billy"s the perfect pop song: catchy, original and somehow familiar all at the same time. It's difficult to believe it hasn't been around for years. Just under the surface of these smooth and polished pop songs, there are mature themes of retrospection, grief and mortality, There's menace, humour and poignancy. As well as my own copy, I bought the CD for a friend who confessed that driving home and playing it for the first time, he'd had to pull over listening to The Old Magician. Without doubt or a near challenger, this is the best album of 2013. It has a slightly different feel to the production of earlier Prefab Sprout albums, not least since Paddy played every instrument on the whole album and its effectively a solo project. Who knows - Thomas Dolby might just have talked Paddy out of quite so much harmonica?!
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on 20 October 2013
Lets face it , when one of your favourite singers or groups, decide on a comeback or to release new material, well you cant help getting that initial feeling of dread. What if it isn't up to their older, more popular and recognisable material. What if its just rubbish. If you are like me ( and you can probably thank God that you are not ) then you feel sort of protective towards your Heroes, you don't want them to fail. Well with, Crimson/Red, Paddy Mcaloon , has produced his best work ever. To make a classic record, doesn't mean every song has to be a classic ( Would you buy a record with only Ringos work from the Beatles or only Dylans dreams etc ) This is a classic 5 star record because you want to listen to it more than once and then again. You cant explain, WHY," Wichita lineman ", is a classic song, it just is. This record will make you, Smile,cry,laugh,tap your feet and sing along,how many records do that ?. To pick a favourite ?," Songs of Danny Galway " and " Billy " stand out, but hey choose your own. Oh and Paddy, " if your listening out there " please don't make us wait so long for the next one.
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VINE VOICEon 16 October 2013
I've got stacks of time for Pady McAloon as a songwriter - he's consistently brilliant, even if, at times, I find the overly slick sound on some Prefab Sprout records slightly detracts from the overall listening experience (purely a matter of personal taste). Happily, there's no such problem with Crimson/Red - the production values are perfectly judged and never get in the way of what is surely his strongest set of tunes since Steve McQueen (though, unlike seemingly everyone else, I was never all that overawed with Jordan) - there's no weak tracks here but Adolescence and Mysterious in particularly are glorious examples of how McAloon can write songs that just lift up my soul - the perfect antidote for gloomy October evenings.
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on 31 October 2013
This album is astoundingly good. Even although it is effectively a solo album of Paddy McAloon having played all of the instruments on it, the sound is so rich and complex you would imagine a full band produced this. The intricate layers of guitars and swirling synth and briliant rhythms constantly startle and amaze. Paddy's voice is unchanged from his heyday and sounds extremely youthful. This is from a man who looks like he stepped out of ZZ Top and has a detached retina and constant deafening tinnitus. It is Paddy's 9th Symphony for sure. So many classic tracks, such brilliant lyrics, startling chord changes but rousing choruses. This CD will not leave my turntable for months. A work of genius.
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on 27 July 2014
Paddy McAloon in excellent form, with catchy tunes and a deft hand at the lyrics. A lot of familiar themes are visited; "The Best Jewel Thief in the World" celebrates an unlikely hero (possibly a nod to Cary Grant movie "Catch a Thief"); "The Devil Came a Calling" talks about temptation and writes Paddy himself into the song; "List of Impossible Things" sounds like it could have come straight off 1990's "Jordan" album. Many of the songs (like "The Old Magician") have an auto-biographical and nostalgic feeling to them, and overall this is a beautiful sounding album, and the best Prefab Sprout album for decades.
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