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2023 Albums Thing 169 - The Icicle Works “The Small Price Of A Bicycle”

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The title, taken from the lyrics of the song “All The Daughters (Of Her Fathers House)” (“Brother the small price of a bicycle isn't mine”), is an unsubtle jab at former Tory (spit) Employment Minister Norman Tebbit’s suggestion that inner city protestors shouldn’t riot to protest unemployment but do what his dad did to find work, get on a bike and find a job (the fact that there weren’t any jobs due to his government’s policies appears to have escaped him !). It sets out, before you’ve played a note, exactly where the Icicle Works stand politically, just in case you didn’t already know.

This was the Icicle Works second album, released in 1985. Their first had given them a minor hit in the US with “Birds Fly…” so it’s something of a mystery as to why this album never received a US release. The band were operating in the same area as U2, and Simple Minds who were doing well Stateside at the time and this lack of a release likely terminally harmed their chances of cracking the USofA.

We start on a high with the single “Hollow Horse” bringing along more of those chiming guitars and thundering drums we encountered on “Seven Singles Deep” and every bit the follow up to “Birds Fly…” that would have seen the OK in the US. “Perambulator” is an altogether more aggressive thing that still hangs off a monster hook and a riff reminiscent of Department S’s “Is Vic There ?” with a hint of The Byrds “Eight Miles High”. Track 3 is another single, “Seven Horses” which makes you wonder what the record buying public were pre-occupied with that stopped this from being a massive hit.

And on it goes riff after chorus after thundering drum break after faux Motown bass line after beautiful ballad. Sounds gave it a 5 star review on release and still the Icicle Works are something of a footnote in the history of the 80’s rather than being widely held in the high esteem they deserve. It shall always make me wonder why.

All The Daughters Of Her Fathers House - https://youtu.be/HC4jL3kyLxk?si=mrGPr20GnSXbAotZ

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