Around early November 1987, when Australia’s Icehouse was opening for Boston’s The Cars at the former Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, I wasn’t very familiar with their work, but I sure was digging their then-new single, “Crazy.”
Icehouse, the six man New Wave / Rock band formed in Sydney in 1977 (starting with the band name Flowers), was led by singer / songwriter / lead guitarist and then some, Iva Davies. Their self-titled debut album, released in October 1980, was a huge success in Australia and New Zealand, going multi-platinum, and even reached No. 82 on the BILLBOARD album chart. The second single from the album, “We Can Get Together,” was released in October 1980, and in August 1981, was the band’s first entry on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, spending a couple of weeks at No. 62.
In their native Australia, Icehouse had 11 Top 40 hits before 1987, while in the same time frame here in the U.S., they had just two chart entries on the Hot 100, “We Can Get Together” and “No Promises” (from the 1985 album, MEASURE FOR MEASURE). It reached No. 79 in August 1986, though it did reach the Top 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance and Rock charts, and was my introduction (like many others here in the U.S.) to a band I would soon grow to love.
MAN OF COLOURS, the sixth album for Icehouse, was released in late September 1987, and though they had four Top 5 Australian albums to their credit, Icehouse hadn’t had a huge album since their debut. That all changed with MAN OF COLOURS. The album spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Australian album chart, and was certified 7x multi-platinum in Australia, with sales of over 700,000 copies.
Released a couple months in advance of the album was the song “Crazy.” While it was an automatic smash Down Under, it took awhile for it to build an audience here in America. But, it did build an audience, and debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 this week in October 1987. Like its two Hot 100 predecessors, “Crazy” started a slow climb up the start, but by mid-November 1987, it had surpassed the chart peaks of both of them. “Crazy” reached the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in early December 1987, was a favorite on MTV, spent a week at its peak position of No. 14 in late January 1988, and a total of 21 weeks on the Hot 100.
Around the globe, “Crazy” reached No. 4 in Australia, No. 10 in New Zealand, and the Top 40 in the U.K. and Canada. It also reached No. 10 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, but mostly, “Crazy” finally brought the band long-deserved success here in America. Their next single, “Electric Blue,” co-written by Iva Davies and John Oates, became their only No. 1 single in Australia, and was a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 and in other parts of the world.
When I saw Icehouse open for The Cars (on the 1987 DOOR TO DOOR tour, just months before they broke up), I didn’t know most of the songs, but Icehouse put on a solid show, and it wouldn’t take long for me to delve into some of their other gems, like “Icehouse” (from 1980’s ICEHOUSE), “Great Southern Land,” “Uniform” and “Hey Little Girl” (from 1982’s PRIMITIVE MAN), “Cross The Border” (from MEASURE FOR MEASURE), “Electric Blue” and the title track from MAN OF COLOURS, and “Touch The Fire” (from the 1989 compilation, GREAT SOUTHERN LAND).
Though Icehouse never again achieved the fame and success they had with MAN OF COLOURS and songs like “Crazy” and “Electric Blue,” they are still together today, their entire studio catalog has been reissued, and they released two live albums in each of the last two years.
I’m forever grateful that “Crazy” was crazy enough to come into my life around this time 29 years ago. And, if you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with the wonderful music of Icehouse, I won’t call you “crazy,” I won’t say that you’re “probably out of your mind,” I’ll just say, “what are you waiting for?”