On Prefab Sprout
In the summer of 1985, I worked in the cassette department of Tower Records in New York City. A few months before, my girlfriend of a year told me at a birthday party that I threw for her, that she was sleeping with somebody else. Later, when I asked why she left me, she answered, “You’re too nice. I need somebody a little meaner.”
Still carrying the burden of broken promises and a shattered heart when I met my Tower’s Records co-worker Barry Walters. A student at NYU, Barry also wrote music reviews for the Village Voice. While stacking shelves, he and I would get into these long discussions about pop music. Perhaps picking-up on my melancholy nature, he introduced me to the two discs that became my favorites of 1985: Bryan Ferry’s wonderful Boys and Girls and Prefab Sprout’s brilliant Steve McQueen aka Two Wheels Good.
While I admired Ferry’s laid back cool, it was the Prefab’s bitterly charming singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon with whom I connected as his compositions “When Loves Break Down,” “Horsin’ Around” and “Appetite” became my instant musical manifestos of post-teen misery. With each subsequent album, Paddy and Prefab’s sound only got better, richer and more ambitious. In addition, it was from reading interviews with Paddy in various Brit-pop newspapers that got me into listening to George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
Sharing Two Wheels Good with my late friend, writer and director Jerry Rodriguez, who would be celebrating his 50th birthday this month, he too was hooked. Drinking away our women troubles as we talked about our various queens of heartbreak, we both knew all the lyrics and had no problem singing them loud and off-key. It was only a matter of time before we judged all our future friends and girlfriends on whether they liked Two Wheels Good.
Twenty-years later, when Jerry was my room mate and battling cancer, I could hear him playing Two Wheels Good often from his room. More than two decades had passed since we both first heard it and it still sounded fresh.