For Those Without a Mac, We Salute You!
Spellbound - Vol I Iss IV
© April 1994
The following transcript is only a part of what can be
found on the interactive disk that accompanies the special edition of
Other features are:
WORDS - Iva's telling of the making of Big Wheel
DIVA - Iva's reasons for creating DIVA the studio and record label
LYRICS - a listing of all the song lyrics, which is where you will
find the following track by track description of each song
BIOG - a point by point history of Icehouse covering 1978 to 1993
DISCS - a current listing of recordings by Icehouse available through
NEWS - A small advertisement announcing the upcoming Full Circle
In addition to setting up all of this information, Simon
Lloyd programmed the disk to play bits of each song while the disk is
being viewed. He also integrated Patti Gaines' fantastic artwork very
beautifully. It's truly an incredible promotional tool!
This song was, in fact, the only one which was written some time ago
I believe it was early in 1992. It was the first time I had attempted
to write with David Chapman and we had only just then discovered our mutual
admiration for the very early Brian Eno solo albums Here Come The Warm
Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain, and Another Green World.
This song strongly reflects Brian Eno's backing vocal style and this was
one key to the creation of the song. In 1985 I had the pleasure of working
with Eno on the Icehouse album Measure For Measure. He has always
been a great influence on my keyboard style but on that particular occasion
he not only added keyboards but also (you guessed it) sang backing vocals!
The lyrics simply reflect the observation that in spite of the apparent
transformation that occurs with all "revolutions" (replacing
the old with the new), whether they be political, social, or musical and
fashion revolutions, with hindsight one can only conclude that in the
very little has really changed!
The circular nature of the notion of change and exchange is as predictable
as the motion of the planets and stars.
My own musical roots keep coming back to haunt me inevitably and this
is the reason that I have chosen this song as the title track of this
collection of songs!
One of the great influences that both David and I have in common is the
particular sound and style of guitarist the late Mick Ronson who masterminded
with David Bowie a lot of the early work of Spiders From Mars,
as well as his notable additions and production on Lou Reed's Transformer
album to name a couple of examples.
David, ironically, confided to me that he had frequented quite a few early
Flowers (later Icehouse) shows in Sydney because at that time I had the
"Ronson" sound down to a fine art! It was this guitar sound
that is the foundation of the Flowers album and has recently, once again
ironically, become vogue among quite a few young British and American
bands like Suede and Blur.
This guitar sound and style was our starting point with "Satellite"
and its rather bitchy glam style was reinforced through its lyrics as
Satellite is a classic stereotype. She is vain and shallow, loves a party
and a showcase and is aloof and unattainable. In spite of her fickle and
flighty nature she will always have admirers line up at her beck and call
and wrapped around her finger
she is, after all, a lot of fun!
Satellite was played, in our video of the song, by one of Australia's
leading "drag" performers Christie McNicole, in case you were
This song was written by myself, Paul Wheeler, and Simon Lloyd, our keyboardist/sax
It's kind of a narrative about the singer whose lover, "Valentine,"
has deserted him for greener pastures, his recovery and the inevitable
circular twist that concludes this story.
Although I was unaware at the time that I wrote the lyrics, I am reminded
of Ray Davies' lyrics in the Kinks' song "Lazy Sunny Afternoon"
in which he laments the loss of his girlfriend and most of his property.
The black humour that Ray Davies, Iggy Pop, Morrissey, Eno and other of
my lyricist heroes find in subjects that are treated by a majority of
song writers with nauseating melancholy has always appealed to me.
I guess, at the end of the day and in spite of it all
you just gotta
This song was written by myself, David, and Paul in David's lounge room.
I have a confession that there is one credit that I have omitted on the
I was desperately searching for a two-syllable title that would fit the
piece of music which we were writing and give me a subject to springboard
into the writing of the lyrics. David has a dog that is particularly hyperactive
(mad!). Just at that moment this dog leapt up onto Paul and attempted
the usual "death-by-licking" style of attack. Paul, of course,
vainly blurted a feeble command in attempting to pacify the dog.
The dog's name is "Judas!"
A light bulb appeared above my head. So, as is right and proper, thank
you Judas for the idea!
Judas is a song about conscience. Once again accidentally back on a circular
call it Karma or what you will, I believe that eventually
everything comes back on you
even the way you are remembered when
To me the biblical character of Judas is the figure, probably best known
in our culture, who has been most "damned" by history for his
actions. There are many of course (Hitler, for example, has been similarly
"damned"), but somehow this figure appealed to me because he
most succinctly represents the idea of the "crisis of decision"
for which one must take responsibility.
This decision may be made by the political figure who bends from idealism
to corruption, the profiteering industrialist who dumps waste thinking
it will not harm or be discovered, to the individual who buckles under
pressure and compromises a belief, down to those who choose to be dishonest
to others and ultimately betray themselves.
This idea is inspired by some of my own experiences of the last 13 years,
as well, and I promise
it is all written in the book!
I suppose this song may be construed as my "fanfare for the individual."
There seems to be a growing tendency to "dehumanize" the individual
by way of such mechanisms as account numbers and statistics, and although
this is not a new observation, it appears that the "collective power"
of the people is once again becoming a potential of increasing significance.
The changing face of South Africa could be cited as one example of this.
There are often times when I wonder whether the power to control society
and its progress rests in the hands of a very few powerful people, moguls
of industry and heads of state, and that generally we have no real control
over the future.
However, I must remain the perpetual optimist and have written this song
about two types of "invisible people"
those who feel helpless
by virtue of their "apparent" insignificance in the scheme of
things, and those who, although they may indeed wield the kind of power
that can alter the progress of our future choose to hide behind their
desks for fear of being held responsible for their actions.
The "grandstanding" voice in the closing section of the song
("The glory of the United States of America," "Sell his
soul," "Alleluia" etc.) is courtesy of the rather suspect
evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
Feed The Machine
Somewhere deep in the vaults of the ABC there is a tape which is dated
roughly 1974 or so. The tape is a live recording which was done in the
then "Double J" studios of a rather peculiar acoustic band.
The band was called Afghan and was a creation of myself and my then writing
partner Danny Blundell.
This all occurred well before the formation of Flowers (a.k.a. Icehouse).
Although most of the material was original there are some significant
cover versions included in the set
some T-Rex songs and
it or not
a less well known Led Zeppelin song!
I suppose the style of Led Zeppelin has not often been associated with
my songwriting but they remain a significant influence in my own introduction
to music of this popular idiom, and their influence on this particular
song is unashamedly apparent. I'm a great admirer of Paul's drumming and
it is obvious that he has studied and mastered the style of the legendary
John Bonham, whose drumming drove that band's music so powerfully.
I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about the nature of
the "machine" in this song because I'm sure that there are occasions
when we all feel a bit like "mice on the tread-wheel." My song
is a simple analogy of this situation described as a "suffocating"
There has always been a special significance attached to "Cadillac"
for the main three writers of this album (myself, David, and Paul) because
this was the first song that we wrote together late in 1992.
It still represents the most distinct example of the styles which we admired
in common and which we were discussing before attempting to begin the
Big Wheel project.
Lyrically I suppose the humour of this song is rather black
perhaps timely that there has been some controversy over the recent purchase
of Prime Minister Paul Keating's four black, bullet-proofed limousines
although originally I had imagined that my "Cadillac" was perhaps
a presidential limousine!
Needless to say, my analogy is as simple as this. The president, prime
minister, leader or whoever, who has the responsibility of "steering"
us into the future is enjoying the trappings of their position to such
a degree that they are (like some notable "pop stars") partying
down in the back of their limousine, mindless of the responsibility of
The irony of this "cavalier" attitude is that the foremost thought
in their minds as they crash on into the future is that the limousine
is a "Cadillac"
always a symbol of decadent wealth and
good luck!... there is nobody driving!
Sam The Man
I have always been a great fan, not only of Humphrey Bogart, but of his
co-star and real life partner, Lauren Bacall.
Both those characters appear in this song as a kind of cartoon version
of their classic Hollywood creations represented in their films of that
era. One of Mr. Bogart's most famous roles was that of "Sam Spade,
In this 1993 version our hero "Sam" is once again on the trail.
There is no deep meaning to this particular song
it is, I hope,
as it was to write and record, a bit of fun.
During the recording of the backing vocals by myself, David, and Paul,
a particular unforeseen accident occurred which prompted the general deterioration
of the singers into laughter and in true professional style, we never
bothered to erase it!... hence the chaos at the front of the track!
Ben Nightingale, formerly of Psychlone Smile, is an outstanding young
Sydney guitarist and added some great additional rhythm guitar to this
track for us.
David has obviously missed his calling as a "vaudeville" performer
"'Ullo, 'ullo, who's ya lady friend
Every band has a "stolen guitar" story. My most dearly loved
Gibson "Les Paul" custom guitar (which featured on the Flowers
album) was stolen shortly after the recording of that album from a seedy
pub in Sydney and, although it was not particularly valuable and although
I owned a string a similar guitars in years to follow in an attempt to
replace it, I never did find one that was quite as good!
Years later it was made known to me that the guitar was hidden under a
bed somewhere in Fairfield and although I was prepared to "buy"
it back I never got my hands on it
if you are out there
am still prepared to buy it back, no questions asked!
This particular story is about the circular nature of the "fashion"
wheel which hands the "crown of the hour" from the established
to the next generation of "pop stars" in a constant cycle! The
vehicle or "crown" in this story is, of course, the stolen guitar
they always sound better, you know! I won't tell you where my current
favourite guitar came from!
This song is one of those rare occasions (for me, anyway!), when an idea
presents itself without prompting and a set of lyrics almost writes itself.
It took only 15 minutes or so to write these lyrics, although the music
which accompanies them took rather longer! The idea, once again, may not
be a new one but I hope at least that the observations have a new and
more current context.
One of the reasons that we chose to close the album with this song is
that, once it was written, it almost appeared to relate back to the opening
track "Big Wheel" in subject and it seemed a suitably "circular"
conclusion to the collection of songs.
The idea is simply this. The four verses are demonstrations of the macro-micro
nature of "wheels within wheels" and underlying this obvious
"system" the observation of the results of pushing that system
beyond its capabilities.
The fourth and final verse is, of course, a personal perspective. Having
experienced this kind of "breakdown" I can verify the peculiarity
of not being able to recognize certain obvious things
are all still here
perhaps the results of those "breaking points"
is where our most valuable ideas are found!