05 July 2007

[my_happy] Attack of the 80's: Iva Davies and Icehouse

860. Once again, I'm going to show you what I'm taking with me into a dreary, drudge-job weekend to preserve the sanity.

In 1987, a certain Australian group hit the American pop charts in a big way, with the following video:

I give you (via YouTube) the 1987 international hit "Electric Blue", from the album Man of Colours, by the group Icehouse. Their history is interesting, in as much as they were a local Sydney band that made good, starting with spot-on covers of currently-popular artists such as Brian Eno.

The leader, Iva Davies, was classically-trained, and came to form a band called Flowers. After gaining a strong fan base around Sydney, they went international, changing thier name to after a popular single of theirs to avoid confusion with a similarly-named Scottish band; the album marking the change looks as though it was an album by Flowers called Icehouse...or maybe, because of the ambivalent weighting of the title and the band name on the album art, it was an album by Icehouse called Flowers.

Either way, it began the identity of the band which, much like Jeff Lynne and E.L.O., would essentially become, largely, a vehicle for the creative efforts of a single man. Throughout the history of Icehouse, Davies wrote the vast majority of Icehouse's output with some notable exceptions ("Electric Blue" was co written by John Oates...yes, that John Oates (who also provided guest-backing vocals).

Icehouse still exists today, as the rock-band creative front-end for Iva Davies, who has become something of a rock legend in the Great Southern Land; netting a neat handful of awards for such things as contributing to television and movie soundtracks (he collaborated on the Master and Commander movie), and recieving (as Icehouse) induction into the Australian Recording Industry Association Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2006. A musical polymath, he has performed with Sydney dance and symphony companies as well as written extensively for them (the stage show Berlin; the album The Berlin Tapes, as apropos).

But, about that video...yes, that is yet another '80s-style mullet (which, as a commenter over on YouTube noted, was both the best and the worst Aussie mullet ever). What really shines through is the casual fun that the rest of the band is having while the lead singer (Iva) seems to operate on another plane, though still connected with his band mates.

Particularly amusing is the way the sax-player hangs about, waiting for his time, and then gets busy.

And, of course, that cute young woman, staple of the 80's power-ballad video, there completely for show (of course, it's her eyes we're wondering if something's hiding behind...but she, like the lead singer, seems to be operating on another level from the rest of the players).

Still, it all unifies into a signature style that instantly dates it from the middle of the 1980's.

That all being said, Man of Colours is quite an enjoyable album. The current version is an Australian import, complete with five bonus tracks and two additional extended/dance mixes of the songs "Crazy" and "Electric Blue", both fine and listenable songs and reputedly their two biggest hits.

Man of Colours is also well-represented on YouTube, as is a great deal of Icehouse output. Do a search on YouTube for some 80's music deliciousness.

And that's all for this Attack of the 80's. Thanks for tuning in.

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Kai said...

That is classic. I love the 80's mullet and the girl in the tight short dress, big hair and a pound of makeup. I can't remember if this was one of the songs in "Mannequin" but I know it was in some crap 80's movie. Thanks for bringing back the memories!

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Cool. That chick was adorable, pound of makeup or no, but that's just me.

I don't know if this was in any '80s movie; it sure sounds like it should have been, though.

One thing Man of Colours wears on its sleeve unapologetically is its 80's style. While the songs are still good and quite listenable, they just call out their time. But Iva was a master of the style, I think.

Thanks for stopping by. I like putting this stuff up as much as you like reading about it.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Oh, also, before I move on...I just love the way Iva gives his head that little toss at the crescendoes in the chorus.

That man knows how to play to the camera.

greg ralls said...

i love icehouse! in fact, i'm listening right now. i highly recommend the album that came right before man of colours. it's measure for measure, and it's almost as good as man of colours. the track, "the flame" is sheer 80s genius, as is "no promises". i own all of the iva/icehouse stuff on cd, and it's all high quality. flowers isn't a bad place to start, if you want to dip your toe in slightly colder waters.

greg ralls