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Icicle Works - Happy Times with the Icicle Works

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 22 / 11 / 2006

Icicle Works - Happy Times with the Icicle Works


In the latest in our series, in which our writers write about the importance of music at memorable times in their lives, Anthony Strutt tells of meeting the Icicle Works and happy times with their 1984 self-titled debut album as a backdrop

How can you write about something that has been part of your life for over 22 years and is almost a part of you ? I don't even have to listen to the Icicle Works 1984 self-titled album as I know every note. It is embedded in my brain forever. I first bought 'The Icicle Works' on cassette back in the spring or summer in the year it came out. It lived in my walkman and tape machine, and I walked about in the '84 sunshine with it as my permanent soundtrack. The Icicle Works were in their their original line up Robert Ian McNabb on vocals, guitar and keyboards ; Chris Sharrock (or "Little Chris" as the Icicles army knew him) on drums, and "Big Chris" Layhe on bass and additional live drums. The Icicle Works were my band. Everyone picks up on one band and religiously goes crazy on them. Well, the Icicles were my drug. I missed them in November 1983 when I had tickets for every UK date for the Pretenders tour. They were booked on to it, but had to pull out when the Pretenders put the tour back by two months until early 1984. I finally saw the Icicle Works live on the 16th April 1985, when they were promoting the 'All the Daughters (Of Her father's House)' single, which eventually appeared on their second album, 'The Small Price of a Bicycle' which was released later that year. I met Ian McNabb for the first time at the bar and asked him to sign my tape which he did. They played that night on a boat from Merseyside called the Royal Iris which was then based on the Thames with support from the Lawnmower. The Royal Iris was a boat that even the Beatles played on. The gig was £3, the best £3 I ever spent. McNabb opened the set with the line of "This is for absent friends" and then the band ripped into the Sex Pistols 'Pretty Vacant', which made the version by the Pistols, who had played an infamous gig on a boat on the Thames on the date of the Queen's 25th Jubilee in 1977, seem dated by a thousand years. At my next gig with them in June I spoke to all the band. I didn't have enough to both get in and also get the night bus home. The gig was taking place near Wimbledon and I lived miles away in North London at the time. Ian turned around and looked at me up and down, and said "Anyone with a coat as cool as that is cool with us. You're on the guest list." Three years later I met my future wife because of the band. While I am now divorced, I have had so many happy times because of the original band that I can write a book on them, which McNabb is doing at the moment. 'The Icicle Works' has recently been remastered and comes as a double CD and a superb very-limited-to-1500 copies 3 CD box set of which I own both. 'The Icicle Works' is like a shot in the arm, a kick in the face and wakes you up. It has been the soundtrack to my life for 22 years and will remain with me forever.

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Icicle Works - Happy Times with the Icicle Works

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Interview with Chris Layhe (2011)
Icicle Works - Interview with Chris Layhe
Anthony Strutt chats to Chris Layhe, the bassist with 1980's Liverpool new wave band the Icicle Works about his years with the groupo, and what he has been doing since their 1988 break-up

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Shepherd's Bush Empire, London,27/10/2006
Icicle Works - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London,27/10/2006
Anthony Strutt enjoys a perfect night of a reflection of how he spent his youth on the London date of the 25th anniversary tour of his favourite band of all time, the Icicle Works

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