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Extra Lucid - 'Icicle Works' 3CD Set Profile

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 22 / 11 / 2006

Extra Lucid - 'Icicle Works' 3CD Set Profile


Anthony Strutt looks at the Icicles Works' self-titled 1984 album, which has just been re-released in a triple CD remastered and expanded edition as well as a double CD

The Icicle Works were formed in Liverpool in 1981 by Ian McNabb (vocals, guitar), Chris Lahye (bass) and Chris Sharrock (drums) and released their debut single, 'Nirvana', on their own label, in 1982. After that they signed to Situation 2 who were the indie off shoot of Beggars Banquet at that time , before joining the parent company and releasing their debut album, 'The Icicle Works', in 1984. If I had to describe the band to a non listener ,it would be as paisley flavoured psychedelic pop of the finest order. Beggar's have just released 'The Icicle Works' in both a double CD and triple CD remastered and expanded edition. While the double CD is readily available, the triple CD, the subject of this article, is limited to just 1500 copies. CD1 The first CD features all of the original 'Icicles Work' album and opens with 'Chop the Tree' which is groove-based and has the best bass, guitar and drum pattern ever to open a debut album. The song is about disillusionment, but also onwards and forward looking with a marching drum beat from "Little" Chris Sharrock. It is a real love song, a song of longing, sung by the then 24 year old McNabb. 'Love is a Wonderful Colour' was a massive hit single back in 1983, and released as a double pack 7 inch and a lovely 12 inch picture disc single as well on 7 inch. It is completely heart warming, a perfect tale about best friends sat around a fire and their search together for love. It is truly magicial and timeless, a real song of love. 'Reap the Rich Harvest' has a complex introduction and powerful vocals by Ian. A song delivered with confidence, it is very poppy but has layers of texture. 'As the Dragonfly Flies' begins slowly but quickly moves into top gear. A full on rocker, it was the first indication from the band that they could do more than one style of song. Most bands could not even dream of a song as clever as 'Lover's Day' in their whole careers, and is another heavy track with the best psychedelic dream pop this side of the 60's. It has something of a spaghetti western feel with distant drums and a perfect flute, and is both a song of youth and of love and ever searching. 'In the Cauldron of Love' is the perfect jangly love song and was the B side of their single, 'Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)'. Although a B side it is much stronger than most band's A sides. A love song played in a driving style with eerie organ and heavy doom-laden keyboards, Ian's vocal on the chorus cries out for love. 'Out of Season,' is a song which many people can can relate to, and is one of the greatest love songs ever written. It is a song sung by Ian to his dad about meeting your one true love and then your other half 's dad and being absolutely petrified to meet him. And what you have to do to win your girlfriend's heart. The lyric of 'Factory in the Desert'has lots of surreal images in its lyrics and is a showcase to show the world of how musically brilliant they can play. 'Bird's Fly (A Whisper to a Scream)' was an indie single hit twice and a massive track. It is a song to rejoice and wave your hands in the air too, and to mosh too in a live setting. The album ends with a re-recorded version of their indie debut release, 'Nirvana'. It is very earthy, more complex then most band's whole career and sounds over 20 years on as fresh than ever or as experimental as the Velvet Underground or the ground breaking work on that other Liverpool band , the Fab Four. CD 2 The second CD consists of sessions, B sides and mixes. 'All is Right' is one of the band's earliest songs. It has lots of crazy images and lyrics about a tear escaping and riding a dolphin. It is fairly heavy and has a jangly but poppy groove. I don't think it sounds especially dated, despite the fact that it is over 25 years old. 'When Winter Lasted Forever' was recorded at the same time. It is moody and keyboards based with hypnotic drums. This is one of my favourite songs, now seeing its debut release on CD and its first ever proper release. Both it and the previous track came from a John Peel session from 1982. 'Love Hunt' is from a Kid Jensen session and is a lot chunkier in sound than the original, which appeared as the B side of the band's 'Nirvana' debut single. 'Reverie Girl' and 'Gun Boys' both make their CD debuts here and appeared on the band's first Beggar's single on Situation 2, 'Reverie Girl' has sunny guitars and a heart searching vocal from Ian. Most scousers have Irish blood in them and 'Gun Boys' is a political song about Ireland, Liverpool's lost land across the water. 'Love is a Wonderful Colour' appears in an extended mix, which was issued on the picture disc 12 inch, single. It got them on 'Top of the Pops' and is a pure pop classic, which made many of us then "young boys and girls", as McNabb called us then, fall in love with the Icicle Works. 'Waterline' was one of the B sides of the 'Love is a Wonderful Colour' single and is the only thing here that has been on CD before as it was added to the US version of their debut album, 'Waterline'. 'In the Dance the Shaman Led' and 'The Devil on Horseback' were both on the 'Love is a Wonderful Colour' double pack 7 inch. I really have a lot of time for 'In the Dance'. It has a weird and slow rhythm to it which was strange for 1983, but also very heartwarming. 'The Devil on Horseback' has a spoken word vocal and edgy deep bass lines by "Big" Chris Lahye. Little Chris 's drums are hit hard and sound like bullets taking down the enemy. 'Mountain Comes to Mohammed' is a real rarity as it was never released anywhere and was only played on this Jensen session. 'Bird's Fly(Frantic Mix)' is an extended mix and was the second 12 inch of this track which was eventually released three times in the 12 inch format. 'Scarecrow' and 'Ragweed Campaign', which also appear on this, were its B sides. Ending CD 2 are 'Atheist' and a different version of 'Nirvana', both tracks which appeared as the B sides of their best song 'Hollow Horse' and which isn't on here at all but will hopefully on their next remaster. 'The Atheist' is a strange number, a narrative tale of a young girl and her catholic guilt. 'Nirvana' was recorded live in Boston at a US radio broadcast and is manic and gorgeous. CD3 The third CD is a BBC sessions CD and includes the original UK version of 'Waterline' and a previously otherwise unreleased version of 'Love Hunt', the other B side of the original 'Nirvana' This is my remaster and my favourite album of the year. Maybe I'am an old man reliving my youth, but what colour this band had and Ian McNabb and both big and little Chris brought to it.

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