The Icicle Works – Hollow Horse
The Icicle Works were my favourite band around 1988-89. They’d been around for a few years, and by that time the core trio of McNabb, Layhe and Sharrock had irrevocably split, but their back catalogue fell into my lap via a set of C-90 tapes and I was struck by their stance, which was – though heavily influenced by the usual music journalist approved American bands (Neil Young & Crazy horse, The Byrds, etc.) – unapologetically English. The singer-songwriter Ian McNabb had a distinctive baritone and broad vocal range that worked well with acoustic ballads (‘High Time’) or Zep-inspired rock behemoths (‘Shit Creek’). I’d heard their songs throughout the 80’s, the ones that made it into the charts, but never really heard them, if you know what I mean. One song that really stood out was ‘Hollow Horse’, and it became something of an anthem for me. The lyrics are just what someone in their early 20’s, on the cusp of major life changes, needs to hear – “Things I chose to value I no longer have a use for, I ridicule myself and all the things those symbols stood for” – and the chorus is a roar of defiance to those who delight in scorning your youthful folly: “We’ll be as we are, when all the fools who doubts us fade away.” This song makes the heart soar and reminds me that sometimes, just sometimes, I was right to do what I did, and I knew it.