Prefab Sprout has never played New York City. It’s hard to believe an English pop group as acclaimed in the American media as this band — a highly melodic, jazz-infused vessel for the songwriting prowess of the great Paddy McAloon — never got to play The Ritz or the Roseland or any of the other famed concert halls of the Big Apple since forming in 1978 out of Witton Gilbert in County Durham England. But that never stopped this pioneer of sophisti-pop from writing about America, most famously on 1988’s From Langley Park To Memphis and as recently as 2017 with a new song entitled “America” that casts a wary eye on our current state of affairs.
Now the famously reclusive McAloon has made himself available to the American press, where he is promoting the release of a newly remastered version of his sole solo album, 2003’s I Trawl The Megahertz, which is now being billed as a Prefab LP. A largely instrumental affair save for the spoken words of the mysterious Yvonne Conners on the 22-minute opening title track and McAloon’s own cool croon on the beautiful “Sleeping Rough,” Megahertz is a showcase for Paddy the composer who — despite enduring compound health afflictions including temporary vision impairment and Meniere’s disease — managed to create a symphonic dreamland on par with Roy Halee and Van Dyke Parks while steadfastly maintaining the sensibilities that made such Sprout classics as 1984’s Swoon, 1985’s Steve McQueenand 2013’s underrated Crimson/Red.
McAloon was more than generous with his time speaking to Billboard, offering insight into the influence of shortwave radio on Megahertz, his thoughts on modern politics and the impact of his health on his ability to perform and create music. I Trawl The Megahertz is available now on Legacy Recordings.