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Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen: Legacy Edition

Prefab Sprout: Steve McQueen: Legacy Edition

Desc:CD REVIEW: ARTIST: Prefab Sprout

Perfect pop is not easy pop, a fact manifested in every difficult second of Prefab Sprout’s timeless 1985 sophomore release, Steve McQueen (released as Two Wheels Good in the U.S. due to a legal conflict with the McQueen estate). From arrangements flirting with tango, jazz and even spaghetti Westerns, Paddy McAloon’s nimble sonic portraits are less singalongs than they are chapters in an intense and vulnerable character study – lessons about life crafted so skillfully that so much as a jarring change of a time signature is rarely out of the question. Here, as nowhere else in the mid-’80s glossy shift of packaged units, was a genius of heart. The original album, now re-tweaked by producer Thomas Dolby, shimmers brighter than ever, strumming its deceptive folk-pop into delicate atmospherics topped with angelic whispers from bandmate Wendy Smith. “Faron Young,” “Appetite,” “When Love Breaks Down” and “Desire As” may well be some of the smartest songs ever committed to tape. A bonus disc for this release finds McAloon revisiting eight of the songs acoustically in 2006, a re-recording that produces an unexpected poignancy – the closing of a circle of realized ambition – that needs to be heard to be believed. Don’t ignore it this time.
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