2002 remastered reissue of the Aussie alternative act's 1990 album, that's unavailable domestically, includes three bonus tracks, 'Big Fun' (The Riddler Mix), 'Miss Divine' (Spellbound Mix) & 'Where The River Meets The Sea' ( Original Demo). WSM.
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I own almost all of Iva's albums now, but hadn't got around to listening to Code Blue until recently. After all it's the black sheep of his catalogue, and had little commercial success. I don't recall hearing even one single off it. However I figured it was time I completed my collection and came here to buy it. There were a few reviews here that basically said "you couldn't pay me to buy this album" but I figured anyone who hadn't really listened to it probably wasn't in a position to write a proper review anyway. So as a genuine fan I decided to give it a go and see what this album had to offer. And the answer is - it's an interesting piece of work that grows on you as you listen.
Sure, it's not "Man of Colours", but in many ways it's got more soul. I think these are songs Iva had to get out of his system. They sound like ones that meant something to him personally, and let's face it - you don't *have* to be able to dance to everything you hear.
For those who are looking for a real rocking sound that is definitively Icehouse, I can highly recommend "Knockin 'Em Down", a punchy dance track with a wicked chorus about a boy from the streets who becomes a boxer who just won't quit.
"The Great Divide" is an excellent track which somehow feels a bit like a follow up to "Great Southern Land" - it's more upbeat and more intense, but there are certain sympathies in the music and lyrics.
"Wind and Sail" is a departure from the norm which shows more of Iva's range. It has a distinctive Scottish flavour to it, and in parts it sounds more like Pink Floyd than Icehouse, but it's one of the standout tracks on the album with guitar riffs David Gilmour would be proud of, and Floyd-like choral work behind Iva's amazing voice (wow - that gives me an idea - imagine Iva fronting Pink Floyd!!).
"Big Fun" is a track that starts off fairly simple and repetitive and becomes increasingly more complex as it develops as Iva is clearly having a good time with it. He even drops in some "studio session" comments into the finished track as additional colour.
"Miracle Mile" is another classic Icehouse track. A great beat with some signature synth work on the base track.
"Jericho Bay" is a catchy tune that's classic Icehouse, but probably wasn't considered single material because it's about a woman leaving an abusive husband.
"Charlies Sky" is a really thoughtful track that also sounds like it was produced by Pink Floyd. Excellent stuff.
And then there's "Where the River meets the Sea" - which sounds a lot like a grown up and finished version of "Hey Little Girl". It's absolutely beautiful, and there are TWO versions of the track on the album so you can enjoy the soulful original demo track, or the more heavily produced final version. Two other tracks also have alternative mixes on the end of the album.
Altogether I'd recommend this album as a treasure of slightly-atypical gems from one of Australia's (and the world's) great artists.
Musically, "Code Blue" falls between the albums that precede and follow it ("Man of Colours" and "Big Wheel"). There are some decent moments here and there (the songs 'Wind and Sail', 'Jericho Bay' and 'Charlie's Sky' probably being my favorites), but if you have listened to the two albums mentioned above, you won't find anything new or groundbreaking here. Overall, it's a somewhat bland and generic-sounding pop/rock record. In the end it comes down to a matter of taste: if - like me - you prefer Icehouse's earlier, "new-wavier" albums to their later output, I'd think twice about shelling out this kind of money for "Code Blue". It's not exactly a bad album, but certainly not a great one.