Well, this one certainly came from left field to bring a smile to my face. The love for Icehouse is well established on PPM with not only The Monk but most of the usual gang of commenters also holding a torch for the Oz combo that Iva Davies has helmed for over 35 years going. Mr. Ware sent me the news the other day that Iva Davies had gotten the bug to radically reinvent the Icehouse canon as dub reggae with a spate of December shows being credited to Dubhouse! Given that we’d all given up for any new Icehouse events as the band seemed trapped in an archival holding pattern that saw the plethora of 12″ remixes being the latest place where reissue attention had been directed last year, this marks a point of new hope that Davies still has a restless spark that is firing new creativity.
Actually, it was due to overseeing that 12″ mix reissue program, that saw Davies pulled back into the various dub mixes that were done historically and he enjoyed the feel of it a lot. That, coupled with the experience of having met Peter Tosh at a German festival in 1983 and admiring the musician’s relaxed vibe onstage, gave rise to the Dubhouse notion that played out last month in a pair of Australian dates. The band have radically re-arranged their songs for a larger ensemble that encompasses bongos, percussion, and a horn section to keep the party moving. Better still, there is a limited edition CD that caught it all on hard drive.
Icehouse: Dubhouse Live OZ CD 
- Exodus/Great Southern Land
- Electric Blue/Could You Be Loved
- Hey, Little Girl/You Don’t Love Me [No, No, No]
- Walk On The Wild Side/Heartbreak Kid
- No Promises
- Can’t Help Myself
- Buffalo Soldier/Street Cafe
- The Israelites/We Can Get Together
As we see, some of these numbers have been mashed up with reggae classics. For example, Bob Marley’s classic “Exodus” has been gene-spliced with “Great Southern Land” and if you can’t hear that perfectly in your head, you aren’t trying hard enough! I see this getting on like the proverbial flaming domicile. But why not sample it yourself?
I’ve traditionally been cool to reggae. The vibe can be fine, but when the lyrics start invoking Rastafari, it’s just another form of religious music to This Monk. That said, there is a copy of “Exodus” in the Record Cell, because my wife sees things differently. As much as I remain cool to reggae’s pull, I have to admit that “Exodus” is massive. It’s the one Bob Marley tune I actively love, and hearing it cross-bred with the similarly massive Icehouse “Great Southern Land,” is a natural to these ears. The vibe of dub reggae is not too far from how Krautrock works for me. Dub reggae shares one stylistic trait with Krautrock to these ears; when the rhythms coil and release, I experience the sense of time stopping not unlike the effect of motorik beats have on me as well.
Ever want to hear “Electric Blue” as an upbeat ska number? Sure you did!
While we are still waiting for Bryan Ferry to cross the reggae line in the sand [“Valentine” came real close] we can always near the next best thing.
I just have to get my mitts on a copy of this CD! Currently, it’s been said that this disc is for sale at the Icehouse merch table but seeing as how the band play dates only in the Southern Hemisphere, I don’t hold out any hopes that a North American tour is on the books any time soon. It’s been over 25 years since Icehouse trod the boards in this hemisphere, and the band has only been reactivated following a long dormancy in their native Australia on their 30th year anniversary forward. It’s been also whispered that iTunes will be distributing Dubhouse, but I’ll bet that it’s the Australian iTunes only, much like the 12″ Mixes volumes that are currently being sold there.
Hopefully, Germany’s Repertoire Records, who issued the only physical CDs of “12” Mixes” will keep the love for Icehouse burning and see fit to license this material for CD in Germany; giving us all a chance on the open market to have this fun project in our own racks. At the very least, I am optimistic that this indicates a renewed fervor on the part of Davies getting back in the swing of things. I can see that this may pave the way to more Icehouse music in the future.
– 30 –