Wikipedia 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 Chris 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.”
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:
The Icicle Works – March 1984
The Small Price of a Bicycle – September 1985
If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy, Sing His Song – March 1987
Blind– May 1988
Permanent Damage– May 1990