The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Friday, August 22, 2008

RK 50: Icehouse


8-22-08 RK50: Icehouse

12" BABY, YOU'RE SO STRANGE REGULAR AUS X 14279

1986 4 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" BABY, YOU'RE SO STRANGE (7" x 2) REGULAR AUS K 9924

1986 4 TRK EP; with pic sleeve, 7"x2

CD BOXES (with Sydney Dance Co.) CHRYSALIS US VK 41659

1985 21 TRKS Iva Davies

10" CAN'T HELP MYSELF / SEND SOMEBODY (as Flowers) REGULAR AUS X 12501

1980 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" CAN'T HELP MYSELF / SONS CHRYSALIS US CHS 2568

1981 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12" CRAZY REGULAR AUS X 13285

1987 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" CRAZY / NO PROMISES (Live) CHRYSALIS US VS4-43156

1987 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

12" CROSS THE BORDER CHRYSALIS US 4V9 43062

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve

12" CROSS THE BORDER (Interview) promo CHRYSALIS US VAS 2389

1986 11 TRKS promo-only 12", no pic sleeve

7" CROSS THE BORDER / FLAME, THE REGULAR AUS K 97

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

CD FLOWERS MASSIVE 780941.2

1980 14 TRKS (3 x bonus tracks)

LP GREAT SOUTHERN LAND (Collection) CHRYSALIS CAN CHS 41680

1989 10 TRK Collection

12" HEY LITTLE GIRL CHRYSALIS UK CHS 12-2670

1982 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

12" HEY LITTLE GIRL CHRYSALIS US 4V9 42731

1983 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

LP ICEHOUSE CHRYSALIS US CHR 1350

1981 10 TRKS U.S. version

LP ICEHOUSE (as Flowers) REGULAR AUS L 37436

1980 11 TRKS original 1st Aust. release

7" LOVE IN MOTION / GOODNIGHT, MR. MATTHEWS REGULAR AUS K 8486

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP MAN OF COLOURS CHRYSALIS US OV 41592

1987 10 TRKS

CD MEASURE FOR MEASURE REGULAR AUS CD 53180

1986 12 TRKS (2 x bonus tracks)

LP MEASURE FOR MEASURE CHRYSALIS US BFV 41527

1986 10 TRKS

12" NO PROMISES CHRYSALIS US 4V9 43009

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve

7" NO PROMISES / INTO THE WILD CHRYSALIS US VS4-42978

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" NO PROMISES / PERFECT CRIME, THE REGULAR AUS K 9850

1985 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

12" NO PROMISES promo CHRYSALIS US VAS 2362

1986 3 TRKS no pic sleeve, promo-only

7" PARADISE / BABY, YOU'RE SO STRANGE CHRYSALIS US VS4-43041

1986 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

LP PRIMITIVE MAN REGULAR NZ RRLP 1204

1982 10 TRKS

LP SIDEWALK REGULAR AUS RRLP 1206

1984 10 TRKS

LP SIDEWALK REGULAR NZ RRLP 1206

1984 10 TRKS

CD5 TOUCH THE FIRE CHRYSALIS UK CHSCD 3472

1989 3 TRK CD Single CD5

10" WE CAN GET TOGETHER CHRYSALIS UK CXP 2527

1981 3 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" WE CAN GET TOGETHER / PARADISE LOST CHRYSALIS UK CHS 2527

1981 2 TRKS with pic sleeve

7" WE CAN GET TOGETHER / PARADISE LOST (as Flowers) REGULAR NZ K 7999

1980 2 TRKS no pic sleeve

I am not the biggest Icehouse collector, by any means. No need to have every single variant, though I have a few. I enjoyed the first 3 or 4 albums (in real time) and I am still particularly disposed to his “Measure For Measure” album. I was lucky enough to see Mr. Iva Davies play live (as Icehouse) at the “County Club” in Reseda, CA – ’81? I wish I could remember. I remember the bass player’s ‘squaresville’ shoes; the whole world was ‘new wave’, except for the bassist’s shoes – nice, thick, black…I always thought the “Love In Motion” 45 was particularly strong (and I also remember a nice cover version of it by the Divinyls!).

I think I first heard of Icehouse when I first visited New Zealand, in 1980/1 – and they were, at that time, called “Flowers”. I always suspected there was probably another working band somewhere in the world called “Flowers”, but…can’t bring ‘em to mind.

Being the age that it was – Icehouse made a good many music videos – and I have several nice live performances on video, too. They probably exist, but I don’t think I ever saw an Icehouse bootleg LP or CD.

Brian W. would know the answer to this question: Did they ever get the CD issue of “Measure For Measure” right, with all the appropriate B-sides added – finally? (note: Brian answered this question in Portland, earlier this month). Yes, they did finally appear to get it right, with a recent re-mastered CD.

So, decent Australian band – with some great records. For me, however – no longer in the status of ongoing concern.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Donato said...

The last 2 Icehouse albums, Big Wheel & Berlin Tapes for me stand with their first 4. Maybe higher for Berlin Tapes, which I consider the finest cover album of all time.

True, in between those 6 were 2 lesser albums. Man Of Colours was very so-so as they finally conquered the US market with 2 top 10 hits. There was still some of the Icehouse salsa present to barely make it worth while. Not for for album 6, Code Blue, a misbegotten faux kiddy metal attempt.

In this context the return to strength of Big Wheel (a record I find as good as say, Sidewalk) and the triumph of Berlin Tapes stands as a rare eradication of a group's previous downward slope of the quality curve.

You know how it is. Groups start out great, then gradually suck. It's nature's way, I think. If they by some miracle put out a halfway decent album, you get your hopes up only to have them dashed on the rocks of failed expectations (Duran Duran have done this countless times in their career!)

What sucks is when a group makes 2 very strong albums in a row after sucking and then disappears, like Icehouse. THAT is annoying! Berlin Tapes was so great I'm still awaiting the followup!

If you've not heard Berlin Tapes, hold out for the 16 track version! It's been reissued as "Heroes" with just 12 tracks and a B&W cover of Iva. Great, but the more the merrier in this case. Berlin Tapes actually turns the neat trick of holding together thematically via the great mostly acoustic arrangements for piano, string quartet & drums. A touch of sampler turns up on one track, Sister Europe, I think. All of these covers are great, and a few stand as the definitive performances for me, (sorry, Bowie) and I have EVERY original on this album.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

I concur with Brother Jim on the Icehouse career arc. It's also frustrating that Iva was promising a new LP called "Bipolar Poems" on his website for YEARS. Even had a few samples. Considering the various means of getting new music to the real fans these days, do you reckon that Iva is just over it and can't be bothered? After contributing some scans to the site's discography a few years ago, I had an email from his web guy saying that Iva has tons of stuff in the vault and could make a killer rarities collection. Grrr....C'mon Iva, none of us is getting any younger here!

10:44 PM  
Blogger Ron Kane said...

How come Chas hasn't chimed in?

I never heard anything after "Man of Colours".

RK

7:36 AM  
Blogger Brian Ware said...

Ron,
While it's an interesting LP, "Big Wheel" is not completely essential, but "The Berlin Tapes" most definitely is. It's a fascinating experiment and showcases a totally different side of Iva's talent as an arranger and performer.
I had no idea you had never heard this. I'll be happy to send you a CD-R asap!!

6:13 PM  
Blogger chas_m said...

I had, dunno what happened to, Big Wheel -- and liked it very much. Looking forward to tracking down the 'full' Berlin Tapes.

The first two (US) albums were just great slices of what was going on in Aussie music at the time. I've always felt Iva was a genius "assimilator" rather than a great artist, but that's not a knock on him by any means -- "Baby You're So Strange" is like a commercial Eno song, and I still think Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" is the best Devo track EVAH.

Yeah, you know when people are just sitting on great material it makes you wonder what they do the rest of the time in their lives ...

3:26 AM  

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