This was the first, and by some way, the best album this band ever released. And the thing is, they actually were a band when they put out this record. One could argue successive releases were little more than vehicles for Iva Davies. If you put this album next to Sidewalk, surely you’d agree. Sidewalk has its moments but moments they remain.
Shortly after it came out, the band changed their name to Icehouse and the rest is history. The US release of this album swapped Can’t Help Myself and We Can Get Together around, so this review is about the original Australian LP release.
There’s eleven cuts on this album (fourteen if you buy the CD) and in my mind, they are eleven of the most recognisable and significant songs ever put out. I was there when this album was released, and it’s remained a staple for over thirty years. As with many albums of this era, Side One rules the roost. And it’s arguably the greatest Side One ever cut. Every song is a gem, from the opening bass keyboard gloom of the the title track to the closing riffs of Walls. In between, We Can Get Together, Fatman and Sister are timeless classics. Never will you find five songs that work so well together. Side Two, like most records of the time, isn’t quite up to the atmospheric heights of the first side.
It opens with the biggest hit, Can’t Help Myself, a song that sounds a little out of place compared to the heavy guitar and synth churn of the album. Skins and Nothing to Do are throwaway, but after three decades of listens, they’re as familiar to me as the sun rising. Sons is lyrically deeper than most of the album, and this isn’t the first time Davies would try to make important statements with his music. Boulevarde is a great rocker and Not My Kind closes out the original record with anger. The CD release adds three more songs, two of which, Send Somebody and All The Way, are awkward sounding. But Paradise Lost, an instrumental, wouldn’t been out of place on the original record.
This record is usually classified as new wave or synth rock. Strange, as it has a strong and powerful guitar sound. There’s actually power chords in a few places, like on Fatman and Not My Kind. It’s a lot heavier than you’d think for the era, and certainly heavier than anything Icehouse ever subsequently released. It’s borderline hard rock.
All up, it’s an amazing album which was easily the best thing Icehouse/Iva Davies ever put out…even if he does try to sound like David Bowie through most of the record.