1983 brought a new Icehouse album made with the same band that had toured the previous album, which had been made without them, deep in Keith Forsey’s laboratory. After an album of glossy, synthesizer atmospherics, this one took a half step back to the rock sound of the debut. The singles from this one were thin on the ground, compared to the first two albums, but when Mr. David Bowie selected Icehouse to open on his UK/European “Serious Moonlight” tours, he cemented the Oz band’s rep in those territories with his imprimatur.
Icehouse Rarities 1983-1985
• Taking The Town [Ext. dance mix – 5:11]
• Dance On – 3:54
In a first for both Hemispheres, “Taking The Town” was the first Icehouse 12″ single with the same Dave Jerden remix on both the UK and OZ 12″ singles [though the B-side picked differed]. The “Sidewalk” album was singular for not having any US releases to promote it that I have found any traces of in 36 years of Icehouse fandom.
• Java – 4:50
This single, being a smoldering ballad, was never remixed for a 12″ release. The B-side, “Java,” was a dreamlike-instrumental.
• Dusty Pages [7″ ver. – 3:50]
Only Australia got a third single from “Sidewalk,” but it was an ambitious one. Perhaps dissatisfied with his own production of “Dusty Pages,” Icehouse went into the studio in 1984 with John Brand to re-record “Dusty Pages” for an OZ single. The B-side was a straight album track, “Stay Close Tonight.”
Iva Davies – “Boxes” Soundtrack US CD
• No Promises [ballet version – 6:03]
• Regular Boys [ballet version – 2:38]
• No Promises [ballet version, reprise – 1:22]
• Regular Boys [ballet version, reprise – 3:17
Next, we’ll take a tributary to an Iva Davies side project from 1985 where the first two songs that would eventually reach many more ears on the “Measure For Measure” album in 1985. The Sydney Dance Company asked Davies to score their performance of “Boxes” and most of the OST is instrumental, but two vocals songs were used in the score, and these songs later became Icehouse album tracks in very different form.
Next: …By any Measure a success
There is something very special about Sidewalk. When it came out I couldn’t keep it off the record player and it was always in my messenger bag on cassette to play on the subway heading to and from classes at college. Dusty Pages is possibly the perfect acoustic guitars and synthesizer song. But the haunting and tender Stay Close Tonight is the STAR of Sidewalk. Davies imbues the song with a dreamy tension, as if he is just a spirit in the ear of the object of his attention, out to convince their subconscious. There is a marvelous musical alchemy at work on Sidewalk. The results of that mystical, musical sorcery would become fully evident on Measure To Measure.
Echorich – In spite of our enjoyment of “Sidewalk,” it was the much less popular follow up to an iconic sophomore album that sold very well at home. That’s why there are so few singles from it. Me? I was always impressed by the sparkle in the rainism of the storming title track. “Mountain” was a more impressionistic relative of “great Southern Land.” And “This Time” was the leftover from “Flesh + Blood” that others were still milking three years later. Not forgetting that all of this splendor had a young Guy Pratt going nuts on his bass. He may have been a raw green lad when it came to fashion, but he had the chops to really go places on his instrument. As he did.
I’m a big Sidewalk fan as well but always felt an odd tension between the lush music and the rigid drum machines. Songs like “Stay Close Tonight” or “Someone Like You” would be so improved by real drums IMHO. Hearing the former on the Dortmund Germany bootleg really transforms it. And yes, Guy Pratt is the secret weapon on this record.
Mr. Ware – Call me crazy but that tension you speak of is what I respond to greatly with this album; apart from Mr. Pratt! The cold precision juxtaposed against said lush music gives it the edge that makes it work that much better for me.
No argument here. But let it stay the unsung hero of the Icehouse catalogue. I always love it when my minority opinion means I can revel in the enjoyment of music as if I’m the only one who gets what the artist was on about.
I actually love and still love Primitive Man to this day – one of my fave 10 albums of all time – but Sidewalk suffered a bit due to PM’s massive success. I remember Taking The Town getting played on KROQ when I was growing up but it was the brilliant unheralded b-side, Dance On, that I caned to death. At this stage I never understood why Icehouse didn’t have massive success much earlier than Measure For Measure but sometimes that’s how things go.
I hear what your are saying Mr. Ware, but are you sure John Lloyd isn’t in there on some of the tracks? On Stay Close Tonight, I think the rigidity of the drums is where that tension in the song, that I so love, comes from. Pratt’s rubbery bass wraps around the song like a string on a spinning top. Once again, Guy Pratt MVP.