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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

12 O'Clock Track: Icarus, "Iron Man"

Posted By on 08.08.12 at 12:00 PM

At least it looks nice.
  • At least it looks nice.
In 1971, pyschedelic English progressive-rock band Icarus released The Marvel World of Icarus, an entire LP dedicated to characters from the Marvel comics universe. It never saw a second pressing, either due to poor sales or legal issues with the folks at Marvel. Bootlegs have been floating around ever since, and this past weekend I came across a nice (and legitimate) vinyl reissue of the album. "I love Marvel comics and prog rock!" I said to myself, more ready than ever to spend $25 on a record that I'd never heard. "It would be silly of me not to buy this!" Then, alas, I listened to it.

Turns out that purchasing the album was actually the silly thing to do. Icarus plays lame, uninspired "hard prog" and sounds mostly like a weaker Captain Beyond. Their woodwind work owes way more to Jethro Tull than to Hawkwind, and the band's free-form explorations are clumsy child's play next to parallel efforts by their peers in King Crimson and Yes. On top of it all is lead singer Steve Hart, trying to force Marvel 101 factoids into Limericks 101 rhymes in his flat, cheesy rasp. Example: "Only one guy I've ever known whose face is built that way / Red Skull is his name / Tell him I'm coming to play." (In case you needed a friendly reminder that Captain America's arch nemesis is Red Skull.) I'm sure this record would be fun to spin while you drink a few beers before going out to see The Avengers for the third time, but I can't recommend it for the serious and sober. (Am I the only person here who's seen The Avengers three times?)

The Marvel World of Icarus isn't all bad, though—hence today's 12 O'Clock Track. "Iron Man" caught my ear immediately and has already earned repeat spins. Cool layers of far-out, spacey synths propel this song into a league of its own. Sure, it's got nothing on the better-known song of the same title, but it's fun, spooky, weird, and catchy. I can't stop listening to it.

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