Powerful and still relevent
leoshish | The Pacific Northwet | 02/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Icicle Works, brainchild of guitarist/songwriter Ian McNabb, had the blessing of a hugely successful single with which no doubt everyone is familiar ("Bird's Fly (Whisper To A Scream)"), and the curse of being lumped in with countless other bands during the early/mid-80's and dismissed as ultimately irrelevent. Either these groups were wrongly hailed the brilliant future (ask yourself, "Who but the most ardent 80's fan still listens to X, The Clash, Husker Du, the Violent Femmes, or any other band critics flipped over back then?"), or they were rightly relegated to the ash heap of sounding like "80's music" (again, pick your band, i.e. Culture Club, Ultravox, Echo & The Bunnymen) or being a "one hit wonder" (i.e. Men Without Hats). Of course, a few fulfilled their promise, at least commercially (i.e. R.E.M., INXS) if not critically, but most fit the 2 categories.Neither of these apply to the Icicle Works, and particularly this their debut album. True, they were hailed for their powerful rhythms and McNabb's rich lyrical stories but after "Bird's Fly," they were forgotten...heck their second album wasn't even officially released in the US.This album, however, still has it's place in my (and should have in your) CD player. It has stood the test of time because ultimately it is a very listenable album. How many albums have you purchased only to find out 1, maybe 2 or 3, songs were worth listening to repeatedly? Well, top to bottom, this album is made for repeated listening. Virtually every track has the intense rhythmic power of "Bird's Fly" without being repetitive, with "Chop the Tree," "As the Dragonfly Flies," and "Factory in the Desert" among the standouts. "Out of Season" is a touching and calming break from the action about a young man who's concluded he's met his future bride, asks his father for advice, and actually goes to ask for her father's permission! Quaint? Perhaps. But also timeless and very refreshing. The track listing on this version is the Canadian release in terms of the order of the songs and with "Reaping the Rich Harvest" replacing the rare US-only track "Waterline"--both are fine tracks (but find a copy of "Waterline" if you can, it's worth it).I don't review a lot of albums. I only review those I believe should be in your collection because they have earned a place. The Icicle Works debut is one of those albums. You will enjoy it."
Reaping the rich harvest!
S. White | Sydney, NSW Australia | 06/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a joy it is for me to have this incredible record on CD at long, long last. I was about 14 when I first discovered this band in the mid 80's and by then they were on the wane, alas. I was able to buy the single of "Whisper to a Scream", which had the awesome "Cauldron of Love" as it's B-side and I was hooked!A year or so later I met some people from Manchester in Brisbane and they had this first self titled album on tape. It was not labelled and so I had no idea at the time what album it was that these songs came from, nor did I really know what the names of the songs were. I subsequently lost this tape, or I wore it out, and I couldn't find this album on vinyl and wound up buying all their albums post the first one. It seems this particular release was out of print at the time?Finally after all these years...nearly 17, I have been re-united with some of the most powerful and uplifting music of a generation. The fact that this band were a three piece - Ian Mcnabb - Gtr and Vocal/Keyboards, Chris Sharrock on drums, the bass players name escapes me - and made such a huge, soaring and defined sound, is a testimony to their musicianship. Tragic then that they were overlooked among the usual milieu of mediocrity during the early 80's and were left to sink back into relative obscurity without ever being fully realised or apreciated globally, as they well deserved.This first album is by far the strongest but "Small Price of a Bicycle" has some legendary songs on it also. The music written here by Mcnabb is beautiful, powerful, erudite, literary and tender all at once. How many bands can you say that about? This guy really influenced my songwriting growing up and I am thankful that this diamond has been put on display once more for other generations of listeners to discover.5 stars is too low... 10!"
Rides the Angst of the 80's
S. White | 03/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I haven't heard this music for ten years, and I still know all the music and lyrics by heart. I'm happy to finally find it on CD. Whisper to a Scream is the most popular tune from the album, lending an underground rebel tone we all know and love from the time. The tunes flow well together. You won't find yourself skipping around for the next great song. They're all full of intense drums and lyrics."