'Let's Change The World With Music' - Fan Reviews

This purpose of this page is to collect Sproutnet visitors' thoughts on the new album, 'Let's Change The World With Music' (see here if this is the first you've heard of it.)  If you'd like to add your review, you should email it to me - click here, and for the subject put 'My New Album Review.'  Thanks in advance!

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Emil Mcmahon (08/09/09)

I collected my copy of LCTWWM at 9.45 am yesterday morning, it was uploaded onto my PC by 10.00am and has been played at least 10 times since then.

So a run down of each track:
Let there be music: fantastic opener, Paddy's rich deep voice almost sounding as though it has been put through a vocoder to make it sound more synthetic. An upbeat track that sets the mood perfectly.
Ride: Without doubt the highlight track, almost disco in it's beat, with amazing lyyrics and a fantastic repetitive sound to it.
I love music: Another stunner, reminiscent of older PF tracks, with very typical Paddy lyrics. The song makes you want to dance with abandon.
God watch over you: Slower start, but then it lifts to a lilting melodic pace, interesting lyrics....
Music is a princess: Only Paddy could make such a twee song title work, this track could be from Steve McQueen, it has the same 'feel' and is a beautiful track.
Earth: the story so far: Panoramic in a simplistic way, the music fits perfectly the grand statement of the songs' title.
Last of the great romantics: Slightly slower to get to grips with, to me it sounds like an out-take from Swoon, there is a certain naive quality to it.
Falling in love: Another slow burner, but it has some beautiful lyrics, as always Paddy makes you listen very carefully to what he is saying, and the delicate nature of this song echo's the heartbreak of many a torch song that has gone before it.
Sweet gospel music: my least favourite, but it is still a fantastic song, gentle rhythmic tune with lyrics that suggest an interest in gospel as an uplifting genre.
Meet the new mozart: Sounds like old PF B sides, quite random twinkling music going on in the background and odd lyrics... if they were by anyone else would sound wrong, but somehow they just work.
Angel of love: a soft gentle closer to an album of variety and unexpected beauty.

Overall, it's an interesting 'concept' without being conceptual. Paddy has had a true gem hidden away for the last 10 years, and whilst you can tell where it should fit chronologically in the pF catalogue; it just sounds fresh, relevant and as important right now as it would have had it been released a decade ago.

LCTWWM is fantastic and deserves repeated listens and a place in the hearts of all Prefab Sprout fans.

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Miranda Diboll (a.k.a. Old Spoonface, 08/09/09)

I have the mp3s now for more than 24 hours, the CD will follow in the post soon. I think it's time I wrote my thoughts down. This isn't really a review though.

First of all, I can quite safely say that this is now my favourite Prefab Sprout album, it has overtaken Jordan which I thought could never happen. I know some people have been saying that the songs on LCTWWM have a healing effect and I can second that, when I finish listening to it I feel like I'm in a state of grace. Ironic really, as Paddy almost became a priest.

I've been skulking around since yesterday, listening to it on headphones when I get a chance and playing it loud in the house when hubbys not around. Why? Well I don't want to kill the magic with a thoughtless comment like 'Sorry for the delay in answering your call, one of our agents will be with you shortly'. Yes, this has been said by my beloved in response to Prefab Sprout's music in the past! Though he probably heard the bassline of Ride as I pulled out of the garage this morning... I will choose my moment for it's debut to his ears carefully.

The highlights for me are many but here are just a few for now:

My standout track has to be Earth: The Story So Far. This is the most perfect song that Paddy has ever written and sang. When he sings 'Save Me' and 'Love Me', i just want to run to Leadgate and give him a big hug. I love the way that you can hear a overtly Christian song like Ride and then it's followed by I Love Music with 'that motherfucker Miles'. The guitars on Falling In Love are lapped up, sadly because there really isn't enough guitar on this album. Sweet Gospel Music, wow! I can just imagine him being backed up with the Andre Crouch Choir with that one.

I thought that he had peaked with Jordan but it seems that 1992 he was really in his prime. Why oh why did Sony reject it? It's criminal that these songs have been stuck in a box for 17 years and will never be recorded with Wendy, Neil and Martin in a studio, no expenses spared, full orchestra, appearances by Stevie Wonder et al. However, at least it has been released in the form we have it now. The world needs this album like the deserts need the rain (and I know about deserts and I love Everything But The Girl too)

The lowpoints which a few and far between are:

The intro on God Watch Over You. I wish he'd gone straight into the vocals after the piano, I don't like that muted horn at all. Otherwise its a fantastic track. The Last of The Great Romantics doesn't really do it for me and I've yet to give Meet The New Mozart a full listen. We also need more guitars on this album!

I've been fantasising about hearing it played live with a full orchestra and all the Sprouts in attendance. Well a girl can dream, can't she?

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Richard Purcell (a.k.a. rickp, 08/09/09)

Hi to all. Here's My
Review of the new album
Probably the best DEMO TAPE I've ever heard.
If that was the demo imagine what the finished article would have sounded like.
The quality of the sound is exceptional.
I think the album is  more of a prequel to Andromeda Heights  rather than a sequel to Jordan the Comeback.
Earth the Story so Far wouldn't have been out of place on the Andromeda album.
Overall it is just so wonderful hearing Paddy's voice singing beautiful melodic tunes again.
It's a pity the rest of the gang aren't with him though.
My overall rating for Paddy the Comeback is 8/12 out of 10.
This rating will probably increase in time with more listens.
Fav song at the moment Music is a Princess

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Paul Barker (09/09/09)

Have listened to the new album 4 or 5 times now and think it is very good.

Certainly a huge improvement on the slightly disappointing Gunman album.

Sweet gospel music is my very favourite track. It is fab. I will be interested to hear what other peoples favourites are.

Falling in love is not far behind. Also fab. Those 2 tracks for me are the stand out tracks.

Overall a wonderful selection of songs. Lets hope there are many more where these came from.

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Martin Noon (a.k.a. andromeda, 09/09/09)

Really nice to see I'm not the last Sprout fan on the planet...indeed, GREAT to see there are actually LOADS of us!

I can't begin to say how wonderful it has been to hear "new" Sprout material this week. The new CD sits regally in their deliciously sublime back-catalogue & it's interesting listening to it in the knowledge it is the missing link between Jordan & Andromeda (which was always one of my very favourites, despite criticisms in some quarters). Naturally, all the tracks on LCTWWM are wonderful, but my favs are "Ride" (sounding remarkably ahead of its time!), "Earth the story so far", which brings a lump to my throat each time it's on & "Sweet gospel music".  I can only pray that Sony release some more gems like this from their fabled & legendary archive cellar marked "McAloon".

& if, just if, Paddy happens to read this on this site, Thank-you so very much, for all the pleasure you have given me over the years. I was hooked since I first bought Swoon on LP back in '84 & every album is like a photo-album in my life. You never got the credit you so richly deserved, I'm afraid you served up so many pearls before swine.

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Roland de Jong (10/09/09)

Finally I got my hands on the new album, thanks to you.  At first, I was denied by all websites to buy and download the album because I don't live in the UK.  Until today, when you mentioned 7digital.  Thank you for that.

So.......about the album.  The songs have great potential for sure.  What they miss is a heart. One of the reasons is because it lacks a dynamic sound.

As much as I hate to write this, after waiting for new music by Prefab Sprout for 8 years, I got bored after a couple of songs.  The reason is that the sound is "flat". If the songs were played with the help of real musicians (instead of a computer) the impact of these great songs would have been enormous.  Not an artificial flute, but a real one.  Not a fake harmonica, but a real one.

Take a song like "Earth, the story so far". Wouldn't you like to hear it as it was probably meant: fully orchestrated, with real strings, maybe even bombastic? With the help of the beautiful voice of a female background singer....?

Damn......feeling indifferent to this album hurts me. I wished it was really good.  It isn't.

At least not for me.

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Göran Nilsson (10/09/09)

As many other Sprout-fans I was thrilled when the news of this new release started to appear in the news.  Being devoted since LIMOGES and Swoon, I must say I know the group on a rather deep level.

After digesting the album for a couple of days I firstly have to state that it requires some time.  My first impressions were somewhat reluctant, and I maybe got distrated by the synth (-etic) production. But as always with this band, things evolve.

As of now I wouldn´t rate it as the best Sprout album, but I remember my first impressions of both Swoon and Andromeda Heights (yes - they are not comparable in any way) where similiar. After giving them some time, they only got better.

This album is challenging and at the same time almost naive, both in terms of the music and the lyrics, but it's nevertheless a masterpiece in its genre.

"Sweet Gospel music" is fabolous, so is "Falling in love". "Angel of love" and "God watch over you" is true Sprout high quality.

My absolute favourite is although "Music is a Princess" which has almost knocked me. To write a love song to music itself is extraordinary and both the lyrics and the music is so unbelievably crafted. I rank this specific song among the Sprouts top 10 over the years, and that my friends, says it all.

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Kev Tinsley (16/09/09)

0:00, here we go...
The latest and, in one respect at least, the greatest release by PS, is a monument to romanticism: the sound of the musician declaring his love for music. Starting with the premise that music was created by God as a voice to lighten the silence, and darkness of the world, Let There Be Music sets the musical tone, by the celebration of dance: hip hop meets gospel-tinged house. The rap on the intro - like the name of the band, the conceit of some of the Jordan tracks, and the simple, almost gauche directness of AH - summarises why the things that irritate those who like PS are only found endearing by those who love them: jejune, goofy, slightly embarrassing, but it is part and parcel of the McAloon romantic worldview that is the guiding light for this consummate artist. As one of the reviews said, and was apparently PM's intention, here he creates cheesy ideas and turns them into something divine, by sheer ability and integrity.

The lyrics are sharper than those on the AH songs-
Let there be music
Music will be
And if your burden grieves you
Your baby ups and leaves you
I’ll be your blues if you should choose
To lean on me
- but provide a clear pathway from SM through Jordan to AH. It's a crying shame it wasn't delivered in sequence, and hearing it now completely rejects the commercial motives that prevented its release (as it did for that other out of synch release, Protest Songs). And how ludicrously mistaken those apparently 'commercial' decisions were; for PS would probably, in the long run, have made for a far more lucrative commercial venture had they developed organically and Paddy‘s recording career not stalled. Commercial calculation prevented commercial success. There's a lesson there about how art and commerce need to relate to each other. At least now we can put everything in the right series.

Ride continues the dreaminess of dance music combined with the sacred, with a pulsing, rumbling wave of a beat, where the shift from the chorus back to the verse each time adds a sense of rhythm and urgency that seems to make the song build and build with a breathless tempo. Like the other songs - and as Paddy explains in the liner notes - religion is used sparingly, and merely as a means of igniting the fuse to feeling the transcendent. This is exemplified in the verse about non-religious people acting for good, because it is right, not because of God. Not that I have any doubt about Paddy’s desire to believe; as Pascal says, the urge to pray is a prayer in itself. But there is only one track on the album that can really be called Christian in its expression.

The third track spells out the dominant theme of the album in the simplest statement it could make: I Love Music. And suitably it moves from simple dance earthiness to an intricately played and playfully sung paen to Paddy's love of Broadway. It's right up there with Cole Porter and Jerome Kern. Like a lot of those creations (She's The Top, My Funny Valentine, These Foolish Things), it's a list song: she's richer than money, bigger than fame... in every style, from Claire de lune to bad motherfucker Miles... the swerving, unnerving Irving Berlin. Great phrasing - Paddy sings Frank - bass loping up and down the scale. Commerce says Red Bull gives you wings; art says music gives you wings. And, without science, we know just how true how that last statement is - as he'll explain on his way into heaven.

God Watch Over You dips back into the counterpoint theme, religion as transcendence, and therefore back into the simpler dance music format, but takes the theme one step further. The singer has no time for religion; but the power of the love he feels for someone is so transcendent that he finds himself imploring a higher power - universal love - to watch over her. The fact that he doesn't believe in that higher power says more about religion than any philosophical treatise. Indeed, the same is true of many PM songs - they capture a depth of understanding that no other pop music writer meets, and I mean that. No other writer combines depth of lyrical meaning with deftness of musical manipulation. There is something out there, it is saying, but it is we who have to find it - or create it. And it sounds so much better on the CD than the radio, and makes up the ground on the rather lovely (and, as someone said, very PS sounding) Francoise Ruffelle original.

After four outstanding tracks to open we get the first merely good song, Music Is A Princess, clever, melodic, pleasant, perhaps a trifle too ambitious for such a slim metaphor. Veering back to the dominant theme, love of music, from the couneterpoint theme of spiritual transcendence, but doesn’t match  the quality of I Love Music.

The end of side 1 (as I see it) reverts back to, and culminates with the apotheosis of the minor theme, with Earth: the Story So Far, the song that launched a thousand - well, 30 - other songs. This is the point when you really start to miss Martin, Wendy, Neil and Tom. What they could have done with this. I actually cried to think of it. Martin's bass lines, Wendy's oohs, Neil's precision, Thomas's backing vocals and production. It's wonderful but it could have achieved greatness.

It's a series of questions, apparently too difficult for A&R executives to contemplate answering: were we abandoned in the ether - or did someone set us free? Why, if it's no more than a fable, should it strike so deep a chord? Is that the message: that science deals with comprehending, but art deals with understanding?

It's beautiful and all that everyone has said - soulful, Marvin Gaye reminiscent in rhythm and sound. It has a majestic sweep and the minor lifts, save me, love me, and great breathy vocals bring it alive and sparkling. It, like the  other religion-transcendence tracks on the album are all dance music inflected, a fact that will surprise no fan of soul music (it has the fewest words but is the longest song). It could have been the best song on the album. In fact, it is the opener of side 2 where Paddy finds his Day In The Life. But may I leave Last of the Great Romantics until last?

Falling In Love, as others have said, is a real signpost to the future - a glimpse, from a distance, of Andromeda Heights. It picks up the message of Last of the Great Romantics: falling in love with popular music is the obvious road for those whose illusions are intact (and who want to keep them intact, thanks very much). The novels, the classical form, the critical theory and the iambic pentameters are swept aside in the purest form of the romantic.

Then Sweet Gospel Music, the most soulful song. Last of the Great Romantics starts to bring the two themes of the album together but Sweet Gospel Music finishes the job in the artistic peak of the album. Simple piano loops, a thee chord song, it exemplifies the technical heart of any soul song: tension. Oh for a massed choir backing this song, turning it into a seven or eight minute soul symphony. We are a long, long way from Swoon now.

Meet The New Mozart is more than interesting, cleverly written, and would have made a great B side, and if only every album had a worst track of this quality. But it lacks what the other songs have and what unites the album - soul.

Angel of Love is a great choice for the closer. Music - lift me up onto cloud nine. The Bond theme played backwards, produced for an Ibiza sunset. Music is the angel of love. So let it be mine, cast your spell, don't let me go; let me hear and let me see to carry on making it with you.

The last note of the album seems an echo of the last note of the first song.

If LCTWWM is the best PS album since Steve McQueen - and I think it might be - it has the best song ever, Last of the Great Romantics. The album proclaims the musician's love for music, but it is this song that tells you the story of the musician. See him walking down the street - here he comes - that boy could make a banquet from a table of crumbs. It is the greatest on the album because it brings together, like Sweet Gospel Music the two themes in explaining why a love of music is transcendent. The romantic muse - the lovesick fool carrying a torch that sears his every word and thought; hearing romantic music in unanswered phones; faithful and true, believing in you - brings music together with a capacity of belief in something greater than we know into a swirl of strings and brass, soaring to the heights of expression, standing tall, unswerving in the face of reason and rigour, feed planted wide, defying the tide. Gatsby, not even you can out dream the dreamiest song writer of our time: stand aside. It is so full of power, and grandeur, and soul. It doesn't mention God once, but this, more than any other song, feels like the voice of God. It unites the two themes of the album in a crescendo that draws emotion through your skin until you glow with fervour. Kris Kristofferson said that he wanted a Leonard Cohen triplet on his gravestone:

Like a bird on a wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

When I read this I determined to find something for my gravestone, and for a while settled on Dylan's, "Time is an ocean but it ends at the shore", from Oh Sister. But I'm now inclined to go for:

Not tortured, not wracked
Illusions intact
Undiscouraged by the facts

Perhaps it will bridge the gap from the grandiosity of Leonard Cohen to the laughter of Spike Milligan's, "I told you I was ill". See how the stage is set; read the last line; till then, angel of love, be mine.

46:38, message ends...

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Jan-Terje Vellene (20/09/09)

So finally Paddy gives us more music. Yay. I've been a fan of Prefab Sprout since I was 16 years old and heard Steve McQueen for the first time. For some reason they've been up there all the time, even over the Beatles, whom I practically grew up with. I don't know why, it's not like you can say PS are better than Beatles, it's probably that this was 'my' band, that no one else had heard of, but everyone understood it after you played it for them.

It's been a long time since The Gunman (not reckoning 'I trawl the Megahertz' as a Sprout album), and on reading about Paddy and his vault of hidden songs over the years I've been dying to hear more from him. And now he releases the  'forgotten' 93 album. The one thing that glares in your face and ears from the first song is: General MIDI drum machine. Djeez, Paddy, I know you didn't want to have a permanent drummer because they cost money, but you could at least have rented Neil by the hour so you get some decent drums on your new album. The drums on most of the tracks sounds like stuff I did when I got my first PC with a GM sound card and Cubase. And unfortunately it mars the whole thing for me. The songs are great, but I can't help thinking how much better it would sound with a real drummer doing the bits in there instead.

That off my chest, I'll delve into what I've caught of the music itself so far. Because, of course, with a guy like Paddy finally releasing music, I'm not about to give up on him because of sound issues. Just hearing his voice, sincere as hell and divulging his love for music, makes me shiver all over. Has there ever been a singer (maybe apart from Elvis Costello) who pushes every line into another level of meaningfulness? That has always been the Sprouts' biggest attraction to me. Paddy doesn't just write lines and deliver them, he *means* it all the way. In 'Music is a Princess' he takes it to yet another level completely. "I'm just a boy in rags" says it all.

"Sweet gospel music" takes me back to Jordan: The Comeback instantly. It's fairly clear this one was written at the same time, and one of the songs that you go 'hang on, let me have that one again', just like the Jesse James 'medley'.

The biggest gem in here is Earth: the Story so far. The way he intensely pushes every 'Earth...' exclamation again and again lifts the whole song up there for me. And well, one of my favourite songs of the Sprout catalogue is Nightingales with its Christmas bells and here they are again, hehe.

So, how many years since the last one? Can't remember, but it's too many. I want more of this, but I want a proper drummer the next time. It's not up there with Jordan, i think, but I'm only 4 listenings into it and it may change, as the Sprouts albums tend to grow on you. But, for now I'll hand him 3.5 of 5 biscuits. It would have been 4 except for the drum machine...

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Rachel Gilbert (31/01/10)

I won't say too much as a lot of what I would say has been said... I especially agree that this album is much more of a prequel to Andromeda heights than a sequel to Jordan.   It's taken me a while to really get this album. When I first heard it I just couldn't get into it at all but, with many listens (as you can tell by how long it's taken me to write this review) I have to hand it to Paddy for producing another pioneering album.  

Unbelievably, in the opening to Meet the New Mozart, does anyone notice a striking resemblance to Such Great Heights by the The Postal Service?  Not only does Paddy set a precedent for modern indie-electronica, he also seems to predict the strange and irritating trend that modern R&B (if you can call that R&B) has for using electronically distorted voice?!   Genius.

I am doing my bit to spread the Prefab word to my age-group (I'm 23) but no one seems to get them... Shame.

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