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Protest Songs

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Title: Protest Songs  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jordan: The Comeback, From Langley Park to Memphis, Dick Gaughan, English Rebel Songs 1381–1984, Prefab Sprout albums
Collection: 1989 Albums, Prefab Sprout Albums
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Protest Songs

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Protest Songs is the fourth album by English pop band Prefab Sprout (though the third recorded). It was recorded in 1985, but was not released until 1989; it's not clear whether, at the time of recording, the band had intended it as the main follow-up to their breakthrough album Steve McQueen, released earlier in 1985. The back cover of Protest Songs positions the album as a stage in their musical evolution, offering a middle ground between the sound and songwriting of Steve McQueen and that of From Langley Park to Memphis. The album's promotion was low-key and no singles were released from it at the time (though "Life of Surprises" was issued as a single three years later to promote the group's greatest hits album).

Critic Jason Ankeny wrote of Protest Songs: "It's a wonderful record, but perhaps too close in sound and spirit to Steve McQueen for comfort..." [1])


Some of the songs relate lyrically to nostalgia and change in 1980s England, a sphere central to McAloon's songwriting before and since, and often with subdued, ironic twists. Till The Cows Come Home appears to contrast old and new English values, while Diana looks at the stardom of Diana, Princess of Wales, then at its peak, and makes some pointed near-predictions about the fate of her marriage and about her relationship to the media. Many of the lyrics sketch tales of love, jealousy and betrayal.

The ballad Dublin questions the use of old historical myths for violent ends by the IRA and its supporters.

Protest Songs closes with Pearly Gates, a long song about human mortality--a recurring theme in Paddy McAloon's songwriting.

Track listing

All tracks composed by Paddy McAloon

  1. "The World Awake"
  2. "Life of Surprises"
  3. "Horsechimes"
  4. "Wicked Things"
  5. "Dublin"
  6. "Tiffanys"
  7. "Diana"
  8. "Talkin' Scarlet"
  9. "'Till the Cows Come Home"
  10. "Pearly Gates"
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