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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.

Customer Reviews

Britain's best singer-songwriter and his original band

The Icicle Works were easily one of the best indie bands of the 80s signed to the excellent Beggars Banquet label. This "The Best of...." will server as a timely reminder of how powerful and melodic they were. If you're not already aware, The Icicle Works was the home to Ian McNabb as the lead singer and if you want to learn more about Britain's best singer-songwriter then be sure to check out Ian's solo stuff which is simply superb.

Fantastic band, fantastic best of.

The Icicle Works were always dreadfully underrated. This album shows off the breadth of Mcnabb's epic vision, together with the brilliance of Sharrock's drumming (best drummer ever, anyone?). The double limited CD version was perhaps better value than this download with the additional bsides & rareties, but this is still a glorious cinematic capture of one of the best bands of the eighties (and definitely the best live band!). The previously unreleased 'Firepower' is incredible- Mcnabb as Michael Moore??- and is worth the download price on it's own. Check out Ian's solo stuff..

Wonderful songwriting prowess, desperately undersold.

This album is genius, pure and simple. McNabb is one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Writing simple, yet complex rock tinged pop with a style all of his own. Put simply, there is not one dud song in this collection so, don't hesitate to go for the lot. In CD form, this album came with a collection of B sides and rarities, which is sadly missing from this download collection, but it simply goes to show exactly how good this band were. It's powerful in parts, whistful in others, politically charged and wonderfully pop at others. They are touring soon, let this be your entry pass to their wonderful world.


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 apart from fellow Liverpool-based groups like Echo & the Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, and (somewhat less so) Wah! The group formed...
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The Best of the Icicle Works, The Icicle Works
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Customer Ratings