I Trawl The Megahertz was originally released as a solo album by Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon in 2003 but was pretty much ignored by everyone apart from us Sprout obsessives. Shame because it is a incredible work...the album is largely instrumental and spoken word, featuring some his most experimental work, such as the 22 minute title track and one track that, according to McAloon, sounds like a depressed Van McCoy. Now that it won't do the brand too much harm, it is now being issued as a Prefab Sprout album. 2LP (featuring an etched side) and CD on Sony.
Vinyl Double LP £19.49 88985411061
Remastered 2LP on Sony. Side-two is etched.
- Shipping cost: £4.50 ?
- Includes download code
CD £11.99 88985411062
Remastered CD on Sony.
- Shipping cost: £1.05 ?
We all know and love Prefab Sprout as the clever clogs popsters behind such 80s classics as 'Cars and Girls' and 'When Love Breaks Down'. Those of us who have followed their idiosyncratic path a little closer know that their leader Paddy McAloon is an elusive wizard of pop - racking up scores of unreleased projects while occasionally putting his head over the parapet with increasingly sporadic and often ambitious works.
I Trawl The Megahertz was a project he released under his own name in 2003 and has slowly gained legendary status amongst fans. It seems sort of apt that it now comes out released under the Prefab Sprout moniker as if to sort of cement the fact that over the last decade or so McAloon is pretty much Sprout's sole constant. Anyone expecting slick Steely Dan-ish pop may be utterly horrified at the contents yet for many, more experimental music listeners this could be their sole Sprout purchase. McAloon's distinctive voice appears just once on this song suite on the marvellous emotionally charged 'Sleeping Rough'. The album is dominated by the 22 minute title track. It's the sort of thing that, catch it on the wrong day, could strike you as preposterously pretentious, Yvonne Connors spoken word delivery sits above a gorgeous wash of orchestrated neo-classical which points back towards several of McAloon's favourite composers including Debussy, Ravel and Bacharach. What is initially jarring suddenly erupts in a kind of sprawling beauty.
Perhaps the other most talked about track on the album is the extremely dark 'I'm 49'. McAloon during a period of seclusion due to an eye condition scanned radio talk shows for inspiration. Though these words are used in the opening title track, here is the only time McAloon uses the original recordings and it stuns, amuses and haunts in an equal measure. Over a perky Bacharachian arrangement slithers of despair come through 'I'm 49, divorced'....'I'm isolated' and eventually a despairing exclaim of 'jesus'.
The remaining tracks are all instrumental, perhaps not as unique as the vocal tracks but are all well constructed with heavy nods towards Steve Reich and Philip Glass. It's a remarkable album, with entirely its own feel. Not only unlike anything else in the Prefab Sprout canon but unlike anything else in the entirety of music.
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