The Small Price Of A Bicycle, released in 1985, could only hope to pale in comparison to the prog/pop, stadium shattering slab of genius that was The Icicle Works self titled debut. Stateside, and in Canada, the smash single from that debut (Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)) overshadowed everything these guys did, and I’m not even sure if this album was even released in North America at the time. I discovered this much, much later in life, via the excellent 3-CD Cherry Red reissue, which contains a sterling remaster of the original album, a bunch of relevant B-Sides and extended mixes (naturally, this was the ‘80’s after all), demos, two BBC sessions and assorted live tracks. All told the original 10 track album has been expanded to 42! It’s a great value for the money, and terrific ear candy for the obsessive Icicle Works fan.

Hollow Horse is one of the best things Ian McNabb (chief singer/songwriter/guitarist, and a dead ringer for Paul McCartney, or at least he was back then) ever did, and the rest of the album is pretty terrific Big Sound stuff. Michael Sutton from Allmusic states that the album “doesn’t have the bewitching wintry feel of the group’s self-titled debut”, and he is right, but that’s OK. It still has its charms, they’re just different: a little louder, a little faster, and less fantastical (lyrics-wise) and a tad more ‘in yer face’. As subtle as a brick to the head, as my Dad used to say.

If you’ve never heard of these guys start with the debut. You can’t go wrong there. If you like what you hear I feel confident you’ll fully embrace this one too. For fans of Big Country, etc.

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