Saturday, 10 March 2012


Here's where we hand the page over to Tim Patrick:
Toronto Tim Says:
A preface: You must remember, I'm from the left side of the pond, and several of the UK bands we chat about here on this blog are/were about as popular here as yuck... vegemite! We've never had the privilege of seeing for example Prefab Sprout, Blue Nile, Deacon Blue, Miracle Mile and others perform live, having never toured Canada. I've seen Lloyd Cole (who lives in the US) in all of his dour glory, entertaining but not exactly 'Mr Charisma'...  one time with Grant and Robert of the GoBetweens opening. You can see we're severely deprived. However, I am getting a second chance to appreciate these experiences in retrospect thanks to the magic of the 'Internet'.
I've always thought of Prefab Sprout as a studio band... Thomas Dolby twiddling knobs, perfectionist Paddy probably doing dozens of takes to get everything flawless. Over the years I can only recall ever seeing them perform a couple of tunes on TV, usually lip-sync or a cheesy, grainy 80's video... 
Recently, while continuing to whittle down my dwindling LP collection, I came across some old EPs of Prefab Sprout, nothing special there that I remembered. Still, I thought next time I'm on "Youtube" I should search for Prefab Sprout B-sides, EP's etc. and perhaps find something interesting.

As I was browsing, I came across some incredible newly posted HQ videos recorded in Munich in 1985... only about 25 views!!! This was the band in their prime I think, Paddy looking fit and confident, and as I recall at the time famously declaring himself "probably the best writer on the planet." I detest hubris, but he might have been right!
I also found some clips from the Fleadh Festival in 2000, Paddy looking very different... much older, having suffered difficult health issues and essentially retiring into self-imposed isolation. He admits to being a happy hermit, a family man who doesn't drive, hates to travel, doesn't even own a computer! I have seen and read several interviews where despite suffering many physical limitations, he's a most gracious and self-effacing soul... however maintaining an unbridled passion for music. 

When I clicked on the Fleadh videos I was surprised that he'd even played any gigs since the 80's, but here was Paddy, Marty and Neil, only pregnant Wendy missing. The first clip I punched was "Cowboy Dreams." Frankly, I was expecting something very painful to watch, but I was knocked on my arse!!! "Love's a siver bullet, that blows your world apart..." Paddy was astonishing. His voice was a thing of wonder, rich and powerful and even better than the 80's! I love the studio take of Cowboy Dreams, all banjos and strings... beautiful and catchy as hell. This live version is more of a driving rocker, the band ripping it up, tight as a drum. 

I found two other cuts from Fleadh... "Cars and Girls" and of course "When Love Breaks Down", both stunning! I won't gush on... watch for yourself...

Also found an old duet with Paddy and Jimmy Webb playing "Highwayman" with an orchestra which I thought was really good.

Go to: "Chaine De LeVilosophe" channel on Youtube. There are several other excellent videos from the Munich 85 concert on there.


  1. I was at the Fleadh concert and they were great. I first saw them play the Barrowlands with loads of big glaswegians singing along to when love breaks down.

    The lst time was out of the blue when the beard was zz top long and perversly they chose to tour with no lp to promote and wendy away on "maternity leave"!

    Each time the sound was really clear and Paddys voice surprisingly strong ( i think I'd got used to teh more whispered delivery that he was using more and more in the later records)

  2. I saw them a few times; liked the early gigs with a second guitarist; in the later shows it seemed that lone guitar Paddy was watching his fingers rather than thinking about singing...
    Paddy Strong is great: Whispering Paddy; divine...

  3. You lucky bugger!!! I'm curious... Any idea when the last year was that they toured? I'm still quite stunned by the performances, and the quality of the clips. There are live tunes from Swoon and Protest Songs on the same Youtube channel. I'd forgotten how "eccentric" those tunes were at the time, actually still are!
    Good observation about the evolution of Paddy's vocals on later records, a little lower register and more refined I think, but still distinguished and extraordinary. The reworked acoustic takes on the remastered "Steve McQueen" with the more mature vocals are also remarkable. I wonder if we ever see any "new" material again?

  4. Rumour has it an album of new material has been delivered to Kitchenware Records and release is imminent! Also a much mooted album of unreleased material "Trapdoor Melancholy" could also see the light of day soon. I saw them in 1990 on the Jordan tour, "Doo Wop In Harlem" left a mark, check out this clip to see why, it's worth putting up with the constant buzz...

  5. At last we diagree on somethign musical - for me it is strong paddy over whispery paddy everytime!

  6. Pistols at dawn?
    (he whispered...)

  7. I dunno, those is fightin' words... Did you read Dave's Dylan rebuke? I can foresee a cage-match in the future.
    Mr. X: Nice link to live "DooWop"... sweet gospel music.

  8. Ay, he's a feisty fella; but I reckon that we could have him Tim.
    I sense a weakness to 'Chinese Burns' and afore mentioned 'wedgies'...

  9. I've rather made a niche out of tracking live Prefab Sprout - see my site at - and the fleadh clips are from my channel on youtube - I have literally gigabytes of live sprout audio and video, and always on the lookout for more. The most interesting live footage isn't available anywhere though, there are three songs from the post Swoon tour filmed at the Hacienda, Don't Sing, Walk On, and Couldn't Bear to be Special, filmed for the BBC's RPM show. There are some screengrabs on the site.

    1. Thanks for that.
      I'll put a link to you on my site.
      Could you reciprocate?
      Let's hope that Paddy's health gets him back into the studio.
      I really miss him...