Singer/guitarist Ian McNabb cannot erase the memory of "Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)" from the minds of music listeners. Released in 1984, "Birds Fly" was McNabb's highest-charting single with the Icicle Works in America. In fact, with the exception of minimal alternative radio airplay for "Understanding Jane" and "Evangeline," it provided the Icicle Works' only U.S. exposure, tagging the band with a misleading one-hit wonder label.
McNabb formed the Icicle Works in 1980 with Chris Layhe (bass) and Chris Sharrock (drums), releasing their eponymous debut LP in 1984. Gifted with a deep, rich voice, McNabb sang personal songs on the Icicle Works' first album, like "Out of Season" and "In the Cauldron of Love," that rivaled the emotional wallop of "Birds Fly." McNabb recorded four more albums with the Icicle Works before starting a solo career. In 1995, McNabb's solo album Head Like a Rock was lauded by critics. Stripping away the Icicle Works' new wave quirks, McNabb employed members ofNeil Young's Crazy Horse to rip through a series of raw, guitar-heavy rock reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. Loud and bluesy, Head Like a Rock finally established McNabb as a serious artist among critics. However, mainstream acceptance outside of "Birds Fly" still eluded him. ~ Michael Sutton