All-Time Albums: #59


PREFAB SPROUT Jordan: The Comeback

1 Looking For Atlantis 4:03 (UK single, #51)
2 Wild Horses 3:44
Machine Gun Ibiza 3:43
4 We Let The Stars Go 3:39 (UK single, #50)
5 Carnival 2000 3:23 (UK single, as lead track on Jordan: The EP, #35)

6 Jordan: The Comeback 4:13
7 Jesse James Symphony 2:15
8 Jesse James Bolero 4:10
Moon Dog 4:07

10 All The World Loves Lovers 3:50 (UK single in 1992, to promote The Best Of, #61)
11 All Boys Believe Anything 1:34
12 The Ice Maiden 3:19
13 Paris Smith 2:55
14 The Wedding March 2:50

15 One Of The Broken 3:55
16 Michael 3:02
17 Mercy 1:23
18 Scarlet Nights 4:17
19 Doo Wop In Harlem 3:43

A concept album without a unifying concept. A double album on one record/Compact Disc. Prefab Sprout, you gotta love them. Sometimes it felt as though Paddy MacAloon’s extraordinary imagination and creative ambition would be his undoing; grand ideas for a multitude of projects that invariably failed to see the light of day (at least not until many years later; the ‘Sprout have had not one but two lost albums, and those are just the official ones we know about!).

Jordan: The Comeback (sadly nothing to do with Katie Price’s career choices) is split into four sections that sort-of make sense by themselves; (1) the general pop songs, (2) Elvis hiding in the desert (no, really), (3) love, and (4) religion. It all sounds a bit ridiculous on paper, but MacAloon’s way with a gorgeous tune and his uniquely crafted lyrics dismantles any resistance.

Without a genuine hit, Jordan still went Top 10 and somehow (though deservedly) gained a nomination for best album at the 1991 Brit Awards. That must have been the year Talk Talk were on the shortlist for their old Eighties records.

Any LP with 19 songs is going to sag a little in places, yet Jordan hardly ever does. The sheer scope of the thing means it never stays in one genre for very long. There are pieces which serve more as interludes and intros (Jesse James Symphony, All Boys Believe Anything), but the overall standard is remarkable. Anyone searching for a straightforward Prefab Sprout track here would perhaps only find We Let The Stars Go (a classic ballad in the vein of When Love Breaks Down or Nightingales) or All The World Loves Lovers (a mid-tempo affair with an almost soft-rock sheen).

Familiar themes that run through MacAloon’s work past and future crop up once again; Wild Horses follows Horsin’ Around from 1985’s Steve McQueen, and the Jesse James suite predates his contributions to Crocodile Shoes in the mid-’90s. Moon Dog pulls the same sonic tricks, and covers similar themes, as The King of Rock N Roll (basically, Elvis Presley and America), and there are also thematic links to the next proper Prefab opus Andromeda Heights that followed a mere 7 years later.

In short, the album sounds amazing and Paddy is a genius. As we were, then.

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