REDUX: Flowers In The Ice – The Many Debuts of Icehouse

blast-from-the-past-header April 27, 2011
This morning I got an e-mail from the Icehouse fan site, Spellbound, declaring that the wait was over. The 30th anniversary debut album remaster from Icehouse was now scheduled and ready for pre-order. I immediately pre-ordered my copy and I started to thinking that I’ve bought this album in quite a number of iterations over the last 30 years. It remains an elegant New Wave rock album that takes its influences from the Roxy Music/Bowie/Eno axis of music, yet managing to hew to its own artistic course. How do the many releases of this album stack up?

Festival Records | OZ | LP | 1980 | L 37436

Flowers: Icehouse OZ Gatefold LP

  1. Icehouse [4:22]
  2. We Can Get Together [3:46]
  3. Fatman [3:53]
  4. Sister [3:22]
  5. Walls [4:22]
  6. Can’t Help Myself [4:41 mix]
  7. Skin [2:41]
  8. Sons [4:32]
  9. Boulevarde
  10. Nothing To Do [3:14]
  11. Not My Kind [3:22]

First off, the band was named Flowers instead of Icehouse! All issues of this album inside of Australasia reflect this. “Nothing To Do” was an eleventh track deleted from worldwide copies of this album outside of Australia and New Zealand. The track was called a “Lou Reed parody” in the pages of Trouser Press, but in all likelihood, this was the one track that bore the mantle of the artist who inspired it [definitely Lou Reed] more strongly than that of leader Iva Davies himself. So dropping it certainly made the album more stylistically strong. The most important unique feature of this album isn’t that cut. It made the leap to OZ CDs easily, but the 4:41 mix of “Can’t Help Myself” remains unique to this first LP pressing of the Flowers album. All subsequent OZ CD issues have featured the 7″ edit clocking in at 3:10 instead. That gives the OZ pressing of this album a value beyond its unique gatefold packaging.

Chrysalis | US | LP | 1981 | CHR 1350

Icehouse: Icehouse US LP/CD

  1. Icehouse
  2. Can’t Help Myself [3:47]
  3. Sister
  4. Walls
  5. Sons
  6. We Can Get Together
  7. Boulevarde
  8. Fatman
  9. Skin
  10. Not My Kind

When Davies signed to Chrysalis worldwide, there was a name conflict that led to the band taking the name of their debut album instead. That means there’s an Icehouse hat trick if you ever see the video for “Icehouse” on VH1. The credits will read “Icehouse/Icehouse/Icehouse.”  As stated earlier, “Nothing To Do” was dropped and the entire album was given a hot remix by Ed E. Thacker and Davies himself, a dramatically different sequencing, and a slick new cover to replace the weird OZ cover art. I actually bought this LP prior to the OZ LP shown above, but it is in the correct timeline sequence here. I didn’t manage to find the OZ LP until some time in 1985/6. I will admit, that the remixed album sounds tremendous, making the original OZ mix an acquired taste, if one encounters it ex post facto. Following the hits that accompanied “Man Of Colours” in the American market in 1988, US Chrysalis reissued this album on CD in 1990. This disc is now out of print and costly.

Regular Records | OZ | CD | 1982 | CD 38441

Flowers: Icehouse OZ CD RM #1 [1982]

  1. Icehouse
  2. We Can Get Together
  3. Fatman
  4. Sister
  5. Walls
  6. Can’t Help Myself [3:10 mix]
  7. Skin
  8. Sons
  9. Boulevarde
  10. Nothing To Do
  11. Not My Kind
  12. Send Somebody [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]
  13. All the Way [B-side “Icehouse”]
  14. Paradise Lost [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]

I got the first OZ CD of this title in the late 80s from a dealer in Australia. This reflected the original OZ LP with the 7″ edit of “Can’t Help Myself” in place of the much longer mix on the LP. Three B-sides were appended to the end of the CD featuring non-LP cuts. Of course, this disc featured the original “southern hemisphere” mix of the album, unknown to North American or European ears.

Warner Music | OZ | CD | 2002 | 0927-48981-2

Flowers: Icehouse OZ CD RM #2 [2002]

  1. Icehouse
  2. We Can Get Together
  3. Fatman
  4. Sister
  5. Walls
  6. Can’t Help Myself [3:10 mix]
  7. Skin
  8. Sons
  9. Boulevarde
  10. Nothing To Do
  11. Not My Kind
  12. Send Somebody [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]
  13. All the Way [B-side “Icehouse”]
  14. Paradise Lost [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]
  15. Love In Motion [Steve Nye single version]
  16. Goodnight Mr. Matthews [Iva Davies single version]
  17. Can’t Help Myself [original 10″ single mix @ 3:41]

When Warner remastered the Flowers album for an expanded release in 2002, the stock OZ CD was remastered for better sound and three further rarities were appended to the running order. A single of “Love In Motion” as produced by Steve Nye b/w a production of “Goodnight Mr. Matthews” by Davies himself was issued as an interim single following the success of the Flowers album. Those two cuts later appeared on the US edition of the second Icehouse album, “Primitive Man,” in productions by Keith Forsey. In OZ, only the “Matthews” track was included on the 2nd album, again, in the Forsey production.

Now, the world is bracing for a definitive 30th anniversary remaster of the Flowers album, possibly for the final physical format of the album. When I first heard this mooted last year on the Spellbound site, I imagined that both mixes of the album would be a part of the three disc set but as of today, the full running order has been announced. The worldwide remix is not a part of the festivities, so be sure and hold on to your copy, if you were lucky enough to get one. As of today, it’s going for $35 in the Amazon marketplace. That’s not as bad as I imagined. For now.

Universal | OZ | 2xCD + DVD | 2011

Flowers: Icehouse OZ CD RM #3 [2011]

disc 1 – CD | remastered album + bonus tracks

  1. Icehouse
  2. We Can Get Together
  3. Fatman
  4. Sister
  5. Walls
  6. Can’t Help Myself
  7. Skin
  8. Sons
  9. Boulevarde
  10. Nothing To Do
  11. Not My Kind
  12. Send Somebody [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]
  13. All the Way [B-side “Icehouse”]
  14. Paradise Lost [B-side “Can’t Help Myself”]
  15. Love In Motion [Steve Nye single version]
  16. Goodnight Mr. Matthews [Iva Davies single version]
  17. Can’t Help Myself [original 10″ single mix @ 3:41]

disc 2 – CD | live recordings for radio broadcast

  1. Boulevarde
  2. Funtime [Iggy Pop]
  3. The Man Who Dies Every Day [Ultravox!]
  4. Fatman
  5. Sorry [Easybeats]
  6. Cold Turkey [John Lennon]
  7. We Can Get Together
  8. Nothing To Do
  9. Icehouse
  10. Send Somebody
  11. Sons
  12. Skin
  13. Walls
  14. All The Way
  15. Goodnight Mr Matthews
  16. Love In Motion
  17. Not My Kind
  18. Sister
  19. Can’t Help Myself

disc 3 – DVD | live OZ TV performances

  1. Interview w/Iva Davies
  2. Boulevarde [Sweetwater festival ’81]
  3. Waiting For The Man [Sweetwater festival ’81]
  4. Sister [Sweetwater festival ’81]
  5. Icehouse [Sweetwater festival ’81]
  6. Walls [Sweetwater festival ’81]
  7. Flowers To Icehouse [Countdown]
  8. Can’t Help Myself [Countdown 15 June 1980]
  9. Can’t Help Myself [Countdown 10 August 1980]
  10. We Can Get Together [Countdown 10 August 1980]
  11. We Can Get Together [Countdown 10 August 1980]
  12. Can’t Help Myself [Countdown 28 Sept 1980]
  13. Can’t Help Myself [Countdown 2 November 1980]
  14. Walls [Countdown 8 Feb 1981]
  15. Icehouse Countdown Awards [Countdown March 1981]
  16. Humdrum [Molly Meldrum 12th July 1981]
  17. Love In Motion [Countdown 25th October 1981]

The first disc is the same as the 2002 remaster, but everything else is new to my ears. The radio show disc [#2] is filled with cuts I’m eager to hear. Dig those cover versions! Davies has the obvious class to cover my favorite Ultravox! cut from “Ha! Ha! Ha!,” “The Man Who Dies Every Day!” I can hardly wait to hear this. Interested Icehouse fans should also check out the three live downloads that Davies is giving to fans of Icehouse on the Spellbound website here. “Fatman,” “Not My Kind,” and “Nothing To Do” were found and remastered by Davies but ultimately cut from the flow of disc 2. All the better to make room for those intriguing covers, I say! The last disc is a DVD of vintage TV appearances from the era. No word on the format/region on those but I would expect PAL/0, so I’ll probably have to convert to NTSC on my end. Beyond that, I’m most interested in knowing which edit of “Can’t Help Myself” is included on disc one.

So is this the end all of the “Icehouse” album? Not exactly. For a start, nothing produced by Chrysalis with the Icehouse name is in print on CD. That means that the remixed first album is now lost in the wilderness, but it also means that this is too.

Chrysalis | US | 12″ Promo | 1981 | CHS-37-PDJ

Icehouse: Can’t Help Myself US Promo 12″
  1. Can’t Help Myself [version 1  5:56]
  2. Can’t Help Myself [version 2  5:56]
These tracks were remixed by David Coloumbe and Ed Thacker, who did a great job with the Icehouse album. Thus far, they only exist on the vinyl on my racks and have never made the leap to digital. Alas, with many cuts mixed for artist’s non-native territories, they are falling down between the cracks since the artist and even their local label have no rights to them at a later time without costly licensing. Still, this set is worth is for fans of Icehouse. The band hit the marks right out of the starting block in a most impressive fashion. The band secured opening act gigs with their heroes Roxy Music and David Bowie soon afterward. A stately eight years later, they managed to hit the top end of the US charts with their poppy but still decent “Man Of Colours” album. So a toast to Iva Davies and Icehouse. And get ready next year for the 30 year anniversary remaster of  the even better “Primitive Man!”
– 30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to REDUX: Flowers In The Ice – The Many Debuts of Icehouse

  1. Echorich says:

    The mind boggles! that’s more than 3 inches of space for on album in all it’s iterations! The Steve Nye recordings are just brilliant. As much as I enjoy the Forsey/Davies dynamic – still wonder what Don’t You might have sounded in Iva Davies hands (as a solo track NOT an Icehouse track) with Forsey producing, Steve Nye was MEANT to produce Icehouse. That it really didn’t happen in any great way is a loss to listeners – I wish there was some hidden master tape of an entire album as produced by Steven Nye. For me it would be a dream pairing!

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Ah, Steve Nye. One of the Roxy Music Recording Engineers who went on to have a great production career. John Punter was another such person. I am fine with anything they did! Good point on “Don’t You” under the Iva Davies umbrella. I think it would have been less jarring, since he was an act that could skirt the mainstream far more adroitly than did Simple Minds. Simple Minds were always further out towards an avant-garde axis and were all the better for it. When they trimmed their art sails to sail in a commercial direction, it was a bigger adjustment than when Davies did the same on “Man Of Colours.” And Davies’ commercial music was simply of a better caliber than was Simple Minds! Ultimately, his stabs at the top of the charts were less disappointing than his Scot comrades were.

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  2. Echorich says:

    Davies and Kretschmer found a particular sonic beauty on Measure For Measure and it was a perfect progression for me to take it that next step on Man Of Colours. I thought Man Of Colours was very commercial when I first heard it, but there is real depth in the album and while not as dark and brooding as Measure For Measure, it is an equal tour de force.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I’m almost there with you, but have to sign off on “Measure For Measure” as my favorite Icehouse release. MOC may go slumming a bit in comparison, but it slums far more successfully than any other attempt in the mid-eighties I can name; and there were dozens! It’s proper that it’s the best selling Australian album even to this day.

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