80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Icicle Works

Icicle works_aWikipedia describes this band as being a part of the “neo-psychedelic” wave to emerge from the 80’s, touting such bands as Echo & the Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes. As I sit here and try to ponder that bit of non-information (and am really trying hard to simply not write, “Huh?”), let’s just say I consider Icicle Works to be a brilliant example of the 80’s post-punk genre, along with the aforementioned bands.

The Icicle Works began life as a trio in Liverpool in 1980 with Chris Layhe (bass), Ian McNabb (singer/songwriter) and Icicle works_bChris Sharrock (drums). Their first independent release was a single called “Nirvana” in 1982. Music label Beggars Banquet picked them up the following year. Under contract with this label, the group released “(Birds Fly) Whisper to a Scream,” their most notable single in the US and Canada. Their first LP, titled The Icicle Works, charted in both the US/Canada market and the UK, and produced a second successful single, “Love Is A Wonderful Colour.”Icicle works_c

 In 1986, the band added Dave Green as an auxiliary keyboardist. The band continued to tour and record, at one point tapping Ian Broudie (Lightning seeds) as a producer. As with most of the Criminally Underrated bands featured here, The Icicle works were never really able to appropriately follow up their initial early chart success. Several personnel changes ensued throughout the 80’s, with McNabb being the sole original member and common denominator. The Icicle Works issued their last LP in 1990, Permanent Damage, and quietly (and regrettably) faded into the sunset.

 If you look beyond their two early efforts and most well-received songs, you will discover a delightfully talented group with excellent stage presence and fabulous music to boot. Definitely worth the time to research, purchase, and enjoy.

 “Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)” via YouTube user unitrack250r:

 “Love is a Wonderful Colour” via YouTube user richi968:

 “Seven Horses” via YouTube user weirdandstubbs:

 “Understanding Jane” via YouTube user rewindbttn:


Purchase Icicle Works here.   

Icicle works1The Icicle Works – March 1984

Icicle works2The Small Price of a Bicycle – September 1985



Icicle works3If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy, Sing His Song – March 1987





Icicle works4Blind– May 1988




 Icicle works5
Permanent Damage– May 1990

7 thoughts on “80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ The Icicle Works

  1. “If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Song” is not only one of the great album titles of the 80’s, its also a first rate album. “Understanding Jane,” “Who Do You Want For Your Love,” and “Evageline” are all terrific songs.

    They and Talk Talk are two bands that I followed long after their “one hit.” I feel both bands did much more interesting work after their commercial moments.


  2. Hey ((((Joey))))

    Once again, we are in agreement. I share your views on Talk Talk, too. “It’s My Life” was a great song, but the heavy rotation on MTv sort of killed it. They had other even better songs that I didn’t really appreciate until years later – “Life’s What You Make It” being one example. The slow, laconic rhythm of that song is so unique – truly a work of genius.



  3. Hi Andrew – thank you for your recommendation. It means so much when someone has listened and gives it a thumbs up! “Dark” and “intense” sound perfect!

    All the best,


  4. It’s great to see Icicle Works get some much deserved recognition. Whisper to a Scream is one of the best tunes of the 80’s. The shame of it all is that you simply can’t find a lot of their work in what passes for music stores, and even iTunes really don’t have a lot of their stuff. As always, great stuff.

    Oh, and for Joey, Talk Talk will always be one of the greats. I’ve had conversations with MissP on Talk Talk. Even though MTV played it to death back then, I still never got sick of it, and still sing along to to when it comes on. Mark Hollis had one of the top 2 or 3 voices of the 80’s.

    The only place where we disagree is on No Doubt’s remake. I don’t mind it so much. MissP, well, I think she gets violently ill at the mention of it. 🙂


  5. OMG ((((DJInfo)))) – you nearly made me spew all over my work keyboard with that last bit of your comment – you *ROCK* 😀



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