There was a long period where Barbra Streisand eschewed touring, so her shows in recent years have commanded both high ticket prices and excitement from fans of all ages. Her 2006 tour was mounted in part to raise money for her Streisand Foundation, and for those who didn't get a chance to enjoy the show, Columbia has issued a two-CD set documenting the show. Live in Concert 2006 opens with the Broadway overture for “Funny Girl,” leading into the ambitious “Starting Here, Starting Now.” Other tracks include “The Way We Were, “People,” “Have I Stayed Too Llong at the Fair,” and accompanied by Il Divo, “The Music of the Night,” “Evergreen” and “Somewhere.”
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It's highly possible, unless you were a big fan of ‘80s alternative music, that you have never heard of a band called Prefab Sprout. The group was led by singer-songwriter Paddy McAloon, who mixed oblique lyrics with smartly cool guitar and keyboard backdrops.
The band's second album, Steve McQueen (released here as Two Wheels Good due to complaints from McQueen's estate) was a critical favorite and included the minor jazzy pop hit “When Love Breaks Down” along with college radio favorite “Faron Young,” a tribute to the honky tonk country artist who had a hit with “Four in the Morning” (a line in Prefab Sprout's song goes “you give me Faron Young, Four in the Morning.”
If you never heard Prefab Sprout (or if you'd like a little nostalgia trip,) you can pick up one of their best albums along with a bonus extra -- Legacy has re-issued Steve McQueen on CD including a second disc that includes most of the original album's songs as recorded acoustically last summer by Paddy McAloon.
The album holds up well 22 years after its release thanks to slick production and remastering by original producer Thomas Dolby and McAloon's quirky lyrics (including lines like “Hear you got a new girlfriend/how's the wife taking it?”)
Like many English ‘80s acts, McAloon and company melded their quirky pop melodies with smooth jazzy guitar arrangements. A similar combination led to big hits for the likes of Johnny Hates Jazz and The Style Council, but Prefab Sprout's sole big U.S. hit would come in 1992 with “If You Don't Love Me,” which hit the top five on the U.S. Dance charts thanks to its inclusion on a Prefab Sprout Best Of album. The band has only released a couple CDs since then, which have not been easily available in the U.S. and has also lost harmony vocalist Wendy Smith, who left the band in the late ‘90s, but was a pivotal part in creating the smooth vocal textures of the band.
You can learn more about the band and see videos via the fan website www.prefabsprout.net.