Icehouse – Taking The Town

Chrysalis | UK | 12" | 1984 | COOLX 3

Chrysalis | UK | 12″ | 1984 | COOLX 3

Icehouse: Taking The Town UK 12″ [1984]

  1. Taking The Town [extended dance mix]
  2. Java
  3. Taking The Town

This was a single that I encountered after getting the “Sidewalk” album courtesy of a UK pressing of the 12″ single, which was identical in most ways to the Oz copy. Here in The States, getting original Australian pressings of Icehouse records was a scarce event. “Taking The Town” was a more “rocking” single following the more machine oriented second Icehouse album “Primitive Man,” which was mostly Iva Davies and a room full of SOTA equipment. This became the lead-off single for the third Icehouse album.

“Taking The Town” has much more of a live rock feel, harkening back to the debut album since by this time Davies had constructed a new lineup of the band after all but dismantling it following the successful “Icehouse” album. The bass playing here was my introduction to Guy Pratt, whose fretless and fretted action gave the tracks a muscular foundation; never more prominent than on the A-side. The 7″ mix relegated to the B-side of the disc was the straight album track; an upbeat “street” rocker. The remixed track, courtesy of Dave Jerden’s mix, took more risks as it was more accurately a dub mix of the single. It was the only remix of the track back in the day. Sometimes, Oz singles might have a band mix with other hands in other territories, doing the honors on US or UK singles, but not this time.

Jerden has altered the EQ dramatically and lost most of Iva Davies’ vocals while simultaneously taking them into full version territory. The sound is trebly and thin with none of Pratt’s bass competing with the bass synth pulse that always drove the song’s tempo. At 5:10 the track retains a crisp, effective 12″ mix that doesn’t waste any of your time. While Davies’ lead vox are all but eliminated, Jerden accentuates the loose, “gang” backing vocals [courtesy of The Remy Corps] and brings them up in the listener’s face following the middle eight drop. There they stay for the remainder of the track with thin synth washes and drums predominating before the bass and guitar textures come back for the finale. It’s an intriguing mix that puts a completely different face on the track while retaining all of its constituent elements.

The gorgeous instrumental B-side, “Java” was a real treat to hear. Methinks Davies had been listening to side two of “Heroes” a lot prior to hitting the studio for this one. Echoes of “Moss Garden” drive this song with its burbling streams of water gently washing over bamboo percussion. It’s a lovely way to spend almost five minutes, and it seems much briefer. I would not be surprised if this had been a solo Davies effort as its redolent of the soundtrack ethos that Davies had been cultivating at the time with the “Razorback” OST.

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4 Responses to Icehouse – Taking The Town

  1. Brian Ware says:

    Looking back after all these years, I appreciate all the more what an important transitional album “Sidewalk” was for Iva. I still struggle at times with the military precision of the drum machines fighting with the warmer musical textures throughout. Hearing much of the LP live in the Dortmund Germany concert video, it’s amazing how these songs are transformed with live drums, and yes, Guy Pratt’s bass work is superb throughout.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Brian Ware – You hit the nail on the head. This is the transitional album of the first four, which are all pretty individual. Iva wasn’t ready to give up the drum machines that had informed “Primitive Man,” but he already had his eye on the band vibe of “Measure For Measure.” It meant that, relatively speaking, “Sidewalk” was the runt of the litter, though still a fine album on its own terms. I just listened to it far less than the other three, which were dominant listening of their era.

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  2. Echorich says:

    Always been a great fan of Guy Pratt’s contribution to Icehouse- as a nice concidence, Mr. Pratt has been reinlisted into Bryan Ferry’s touring band.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – He trained with the minors before reaching the majors! Watching Pratt rise in the rock world has been a pleasure. I’m sure the pink Floyd work has been very kind to him, in numerous ways, not the least in meeting his wife, Rick Wright’s daughter!

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