If there was ever a man who refuses to pay attention to the music of today then it must be Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon. Since their art-rock/pop beginnings on 1984's 'Swoon' they have become increasingly more middle of the road, so much so that Paddy and his brother Martin along with noted producer Tony Visconti and a hired gang of session musicians have chosen to record what appears to be a country rock album. Thankfully, the exercise works better on record than it does on paper. 'Cowboy Dreams' and 'I'm A Troubled Man' were originally written for Jimmy Nail so as you can imagine - although they're not at all bad - they are by McAloon's standards pretty average songs. Better moments arrive in the form of 'Cornfield Ablaze'; a return to a songwriting peak of sorts that features imaginative lyrical metaphor and the once inevitable nagging chorus. 'Blue Roses' is the best of the ballads that are on offer for its sheer, old-fashioned simplicity. Elsewhere there's the overblown epic 'The Gunman', a good cover of the traditional 'Streets Of Laredo' and the fine, piano-led tune that is 'Wild Card In The Park'. Despite some rather scathing reviews of this recording, there's only two truly embarrassing moments; the first is 'Farmyard Cat' in which McAloon screehes "Meow" far too many times for comfort and even has the gall to say the line "I've got nine lives and I rhyme with mat", all of this against a musical backdrop for what appears to be a line-dancing tune, the second, rather disquietening, moment is the inside-cover shot of the McAloon brothers dressed in authentic cowboy apparel looking mean. As far as career nadirs go though, 'The Gunman And Other Stories' isn't really all that bad.