The Icicle Works emerged from the early 1980s Liverpool music scene that produced bands such as Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Wah!, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, China Crisis and many others. It was a hugely vibrant time for the city musically, it’s first significant resurgence since the days of 1960s mersybeat. This time round, however, there was more of an “alternative” feel to the music, born of the spirit of punk, post-punk, new wave and all that followed it.
Fronted by Ian McNabb, the band had a couple of small hits with Love Is A Wonderful Colour and Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) but never really achieved the kind of success and profiles of some of their contemporaries. Fusing the neo-psychedelic sound of the Bunnymen, a love of big rock statements, with a melodic pop sensibility, Icicle Works should have had far more success than they did, but were maybe too adventurous and too diverse for their own good (neither of which would be a problem in *my* book!).
Understanding Jane was a single taken from the band’s third album, If You Want to Defeat Your Enemy, Sing His Song. It bears all the hallmarks of a great Icicle Works (and particularly of a solo Ian McNabb) song – a relentlessly driving rhythm, wall-of-sound guitars, quite simple structure, but most importantly a huge, heart-on-the-sleeve chorus.
So here’s the song sheet. As I said, it’s a relatively simple song with straightforward chords. The songsheet has the song in two keys – C as per the original, and D which I personally find it easier to sing in. Obviously you can do what you want with it. I’ve found the song sounds great as the full on rocker that the original is (especially when played through my new mini-amp!), but also works really well slowed down as an almost country-ish ballard. Have a play round with it, give it a try. But most of all enjoy!