The Gift Of Music

You have already probably noticed that I have been more excited about the upcoming Prefab Sprout album, Let’s Change The World With Music, than anything since Brian Wilson’s SMiLE and That Lucky Old Sun. And I’ve already alluded to the connections with SMiLE that go beyond the liner notes on the Prefab album basically being an essay on SMiLE. So I’ve building myself up for this,  and I’m happy to report that the new album is simply brilliant.

Although the wait hasn’t been anything as long as SMiLE, the album has been sitting in the vaults since 1993 -basically the reason for the non-release was probably a mixture of Paddy McAloon’s own lack of confidence combined with the record company baulking at an album with seemingly too much spiritual content for the cynical world of 1993.

So it has finally been released in 2009, and this world today badly needs an album about the redemptive power of music. The basis hypothesis of this album is that music is God’s voice and the vehicle to find redemption in the madness of daily life on a mixed-up planet. The core of the album is four outstanding tracks, each with “music” in the title.  Let There Be Music sets the agenda, basically establishing music as God’s gift to a mixed-up world; it is a melodic piece but with house and hip-hop influences that indicate McAloon’s openness to many influences. I Love Music speaks for itself and has an insistent, wonderful rhythym and many surprising touches. Music Is  A Princess is simply gorgeous, while Sweet Gospel Music combines a catchy backing track with a melody that can only be described as transcendental.

There is a lot more; Earth:The Story So Far and Ride are the most specifically religious songs on the album, and take the musical redemption theme further to contemplate the deeper mysteries of life. But if you feared any sort of hellfire and brimstone preaching, these are thoughtful tracks with an inclusive theology and asking more questions than answers.

God Watch Over You is another catchy but deep song with a universal sentiment, while Last Of The Great Romantics and Meet The New Mozart both hint at the unappreciated outsider genius. Falling In Love is another track with a universal theme that we can all appreciate, while the closing Angel Of Love is aching and tender. This is truly one album with no dud tracks.

The album is actually the 1992 demos with a bit of modern tweaking, but the arrangements are very full -if there is one quibble  some may have, it may be the lack of real instrumentation, but this is very minor as the overall sense is that this is a now a fully-realised project.

McAloon laments in the liner notes that there is no Good Vibrations on the album. He is right in that there will almost certainly be no worldwide smashes on the album, but the album does have songs that should be standards in any era, and he has enriched music itself with this album – a worthy compliment to this tribute to the muse of music.

You can get a lot more info at the best Prefab fan site out there and grab your copy at Amazon. But don’t miss out on this – if it doesn’t change your life, it will be at least be a solace and companion that won’t let you down.

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