80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Icehouse

icehouse(Thanks to Sugarbear from the Marsbar Theatre for the inspiration to feature this great band).

 

One of many wonderful things we can depend on from our Aussie friends is brilliant music. Icehouse was no exception.

 

Icehouse started out as a group called Flowers formed in Sydney in 1977. The main founding member was singer/songwriter Iva Davies, who was known for his far-reaching and operatic vocals. He later changed the band’s name to Icehouse in honor of a cold flat he once lived in.

 

In addition to his beautiful and engaging vocals, Davies contributed his skills as a musician with guitar, bass, keyboards and oboe.  With a nod to the flourishing New Wave sound, Icehouse began using synthesizers and a drum machine. An album released in 1982 called Primitive Man featured Davies on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass and drum machine. He got an assist from Keith Forsey who supplied additional percussion and also co-produced. The album was received very well in Australia and the UK, with a lukewarm reception in the US. Davies took his show on the road, reforming with John Lloyd (drums) and Michael Hoste (keyboards) from early Icehouse days, and adding Robert Kretschmer (guitar, backing vocals), Guy Pratt (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Andy Qunta (keyboards, backing vocals).icehouse_new

 

Icehouse released the album Sidewalk in 1984. Once again a success in Australia and the UK, the US remained a tough market to crack. It wasn’t until their 1986 LP release Measure For Measure, featuring Brian Eno that they reached the #9 Billboard position with the single “No Promises.” Their most successful album, Man Of Colours, released in 1987, yielded a single called “Crazy” that climbed to #10 in the US on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. It had five singles charting in the top 30 in Australia.

 

Throughout the 90’s and 00’s, Icehouse would again reform and tour several times, with Davies bringing his fabulous vocals to stage and recording more releases. If you haven’t already availed yourself of this sinful pleasure, do yourself a huge favor and sample the early Icehouse recordings to experience firsthand the flawless singing style and moving lyrics of an amazing artist who also created most of his own backing instrumentals. This man and his band deserved the same recognition here in the States that they justly received in their homeland.

 

“No Promises” via YouTube user rrrjm:

 

“Crazy” via YouTube user gnowangerup:

 

“Great Southern Land” via YouTube user downunderupover:

 

My favorite David Bowie song as only Iva Davies could more than adequately cover – in fact, I’d venture to say it’s better than the original.

“Heroes” (2005 live cover) via YouTube user Maiblume4:

 

Icehouse Discography

  • Icehouse 1980
  • Primitive Man 1982 (aka Love In Motion UK 1983)
  • Sidewalk 1984
  • Measure for Measure 1986
  • Man of Colours 1987
  • Code Blue 1990
  • Big Wheel 1993
  • The Berlin Tapes 1995

icehouse-crazyPurchase Icehouse

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12 thoughts on “80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Icehouse

  1. Hear Hear! A national institution, and one of the band’s that helped me navigate my teen years. And as of just last night (14 March 2009), at the Sydney ‘Sound Relief’ concert, Iva Davies and co. are sounding as good as ever!
    True musical heroes of this ‘Great Southern Land’ 🙂

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  2. Hey AFOS,

    It means a lot coming from you! I didn’t realize my timing coincided with another great concert from Davies and Co. So glad to hear they are still out there and performing in rare form. Thank you for the update!

    All the best to you,
    MissP
    X

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  3. I’ll listen to the rest of the links later, but Mr. Davies and crew genuinely knocked the “Heroes” cover out of the park. Bowie’s version is fabulous, not in the least because its at the very edge of his singing range and Bowie has to make up the difference with passion. Davies has all the passion that Bowie does and hits the notes effortlessly. While I’m still partial to the Bowie version because of its imperfection, I’d gladly spend a month or two listening to the Icehouse version. Thank you!

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  4. Hi Joey,

    I love it when I can twist someone’s arm 😉 Seriously, thank you for your comment. I ran into some stiff opposition on Facebook from a die-hard Bowie fan, but I have everything Bowie produced on vinyl, including the live version of Heroes from “Stage” that blows my socks off. So, when I heard Davies’ version and was impressed with his rendition, I think that says an awful lot for his talent. Wallflowers did a “Heroes” cover a few years back that was really pitiful – so was Nirvana’s “Man Who Sold The World.” Very few can even come close to Bowie’s league – Iva Davies, in my humble opinion, is in a league of his own.

    Have a great week!

    MissP
    xo

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  5. Hi MissP,

    Icehouse is my fave Aussie band. Iva Davies is truly a great singer/musician/songwriter/composer/producer. Having been trained as a composer in a conservatory of music school, he also lent his talent in composing musical scores for two ballet productions of the Sydney Dance Company: (1)”Boxes” in the mid-80’s, and (2)”Berlin in the mid-90’s. He also ventured in doing movie soundtracks, wherein collaborated with other gifted composers for motion pictures such as “Razorback” in 1984, and “Master and Commander”(which starred fellow Aussie Russel Crowe as the lead actor) in 2003. The latter even won an award for Best Movie Soundtrack from the Australian Guild of Screen Composers. I’d have to say that the man is a genius. The YouTube video you featured of the band performing Heroes was called the Athens Mix. But the version of the song that blew me away was the Berlin Mix of Heroes which was slower and used more of an orchestral arrangement, doing away with the electric guitar sound from the original version.

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  6. Nice post MissP, I have to say that is a great version of a Bowie classic. I did not realize you were such a Bowie fan. You mention you have all of his material, my favourite version of Heroes has to be the German version from the Christiane F soundtrack.

    Cheers

    Ed

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  7. Hey McDoc,

    Thank you for the additional recent details of this fabulous artist’s life. He is amazingly talented, rose far above the 80’s pop star ranks, yet receives very little notice here in the States. I agree with you that he is a musical genius.

    I will definitely look for the Berlin mix of heroes as you’ve got my curiosity going. It sounds like it would be the longer version of “Heroes” that Bowie has done – longer intro, more lyrics.

    All the best to you!
    MissP
    xo

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  8. Heya Ed!

    Thank you for the kind words. OK, well maybe I don’t have all of his material – I am not aware of the Christiane F soundtrack – it gives me something to look for 🙂

    One of my reasons for wanting to get a turntable/ converter is to convert my stacks of Bowie, Rolling Stones, and Roxy Music LPs, among others. Not such a great Bowie/Stones fan now – time has cooled me off – but back then the sun rose and set on them.

    Looking forward to tomorrow night’s Retrospect show. Take care and all the best to you!

    Cheers,
    MissP
    xo

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  9. Hey ((((Blair))))

    It’s nice to know *some*one agrees with me. 😉 Thanks for your comment/inspiration.

    All the best,
    MissP
    xo

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  10. Greatest band ever. End of story. I even heard an Icehouse song on radio in the US last week! Amazingly they played ‘Good Night Mr Matthews’ very very weird moment when i heard it. Was driving on the i95 through Connecticut! Long LIVE the legend that is Iva Davies

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  11. Thank you for sharing this with us. Iva Davies has a voice that only few can match – Morten Harket, the late freddie mercury, a younger David Bowie, and Colin Troy from Toronto’s Slave to the SQUAREwave. I’m glad this band continues to get the recognition they deserve.

    Cheers,
    MissP

    Like

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