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The Best of the Icicle Works

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Album Review

With individual song comments from McNabb, an appreciative essay, complete discography, and fine artwork, the Icicle Works collection provides an excellent overview of the group's heyday. If not quite as strong as the band's debut album as an experience due to the inclusion of less successful later numbers, all the hit singles and some fine album cuts appear, not to mention an interesting rarity or two. Beginning with the "long version" of the chiming drive of "Hollow Horse" from The Small Price of a Bicycle, this collection fully showcases McNabb's passionate, elegant quaver and driving songwriting, as well as the abilities of the fine Layhe/Sharrock rhythm section. The three biggest hits get pride of place near the start: "Love Is a Wonderful Colour," "Birds Fly" (with wry comments from McNabb on its stateside re-titling as "Whisper to a Scream"), and "Understanding Jane." This last one appears in a 1992 version via remixing and extra overdubs by McNabb, but it's still a perfect blast of just-sly-enough pop/punk. He does a similar remix job with Small Price's gentler "When It All Comes Down," with equally fine results. "High Time," meanwhile, surfaces in its wonderful acoustic version from the "Kiss Off" single, while an otherwise unreleased track, the brooding, dramatic "Firepower," was recorded shortly before the original lineup collapsed.

Biography

Formed: 1980

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Icicle Works were one of those U.K. groups of the '80s that scored one fluke hit in the U.S. despite a somewhat lengthy and more successful run in their homeland. They released a number of albums that, while regularly inconsistent, featured scattered moments that helped define the type of big-sounding guitar rock — prone to chest-beating bombast — that set them...
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The Best of the Icicle Works, The Icicle Works
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