For Those Without a Mac, We Salute You!
Spellbound - Vol I Iss IV
© April 1994

The following transcript is only a part of what can be found on the interactive disk that accompanies the special edition of Big Wheel.

Other features are:
WORDS - Iva's telling of the making of
Big Wheel
DIVA - Iva's reasons for creating DIVA the studio and record label
LYRICS - a listing of all the song lyrics, which is where you will find the following track by track description of each song
BIOG - a point by point history of Icehouse covering 1978 to 1993
DISCS - a current listing of recordings by Icehouse available through Massive
NEWS - A small advertisement announcing the upcoming
Full Circle

In addition to setting up all of this information, Simon Lloyd programmed the disk to play bits of each song while the disk is being viewed. He also integrated Patti Gaines' fantastic artwork very beautifully. It's truly an incredible promotional tool!

Big Wheel

This song was, in fact, the only one which was written some time ago… I believe it was early in 1992. It was the first time I had attempted to write with David Chapman and we had only just then discovered our mutual admiration for the very early Brian Eno solo albums Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain, and Another Green World.

This song strongly reflects Brian Eno's backing vocal style and this was one key to the creation of the song. In 1985 I had the pleasure of working with Eno on the Icehouse album Measure For Measure. He has always been a great influence on my keyboard style but on that particular occasion he not only added keyboards but also (you guessed it) sang backing vocals!

The lyrics simply reflect the observation that in spite of the apparent transformation that occurs with all "revolutions" (replacing the old with the new), whether they be political, social, or musical and fashion revolutions, with hindsight one can only conclude that in the long term… very little has really changed!

The circular nature of the notion of change and exchange is as predictable as the motion of the planets and stars.

My own musical roots keep coming back to haunt me inevitably and this is the reason that I have chosen this song as the title track of this collection of songs!


One of the great influences that both David and I have in common is the particular sound and style of guitarist the late Mick Ronson who masterminded with David Bowie a lot of the early work of Spiders From Mars, as well as his notable additions and production on Lou Reed's Transformer album to name a couple of examples.

David, ironically, confided to me that he had frequented quite a few early Flowers (later Icehouse) shows in Sydney because at that time I had the "Ronson" sound down to a fine art! It was this guitar sound that is the foundation of the Flowers album and has recently, once again ironically, become vogue among quite a few young British and American bands like Suede and Blur.

This guitar sound and style was our starting point with "Satellite" and its rather bitchy glam style was reinforced through its lyrics as well.

Satellite is a classic stereotype. She is vain and shallow, loves a party and a showcase and is aloof and unattainable. In spite of her fickle and flighty nature she will always have admirers line up at her beck and call and wrapped around her finger… she is, after all, a lot of fun!

Satellite was played, in our video of the song, by one of Australia's leading "drag" performers Christie McNicole, in case you were wondering!

Goodbye, Valentine

This song was written by myself, Paul Wheeler, and Simon Lloyd, our keyboardist/sax player.

It's kind of a narrative about the singer whose lover, "Valentine," has deserted him for greener pastures, his recovery and the inevitable circular twist that concludes this story.

Although I was unaware at the time that I wrote the lyrics, I am reminded of Ray Davies' lyrics in the Kinks' song "Lazy Sunny Afternoon" in which he laments the loss of his girlfriend and most of his property. The black humour that Ray Davies, Iggy Pop, Morrissey, Eno and other of my lyricist heroes find in subjects that are treated by a majority of song writers with nauseating melancholy has always appealed to me.

I guess, at the end of the day and in spite of it all… you just gotta laugh!


This song was written by myself, David, and Paul in David's lounge room. I have a confession that there is one credit that I have omitted on the album cover.

I was desperately searching for a two-syllable title that would fit the piece of music which we were writing and give me a subject to springboard into the writing of the lyrics. David has a dog that is particularly hyperactive (mad!). Just at that moment this dog leapt up onto Paul and attempted the usual "death-by-licking" style of attack. Paul, of course, vainly blurted a feeble command in attempting to pacify the dog.

The dog's name is "Judas!"

A light bulb appeared above my head. So, as is right and proper, thank you Judas for the idea!

Judas is a song about conscience. Once again accidentally back on a circular theme… call it Karma or what you will, I believe that eventually everything comes back on you… even the way you are remembered when you're gone!

To me the biblical character of Judas is the figure, probably best known in our culture, who has been most "damned" by history for his actions. There are many of course (Hitler, for example, has been similarly "damned"), but somehow this figure appealed to me because he most succinctly represents the idea of the "crisis of decision" for which one must take responsibility.

This decision may be made by the political figure who bends from idealism to corruption, the profiteering industrialist who dumps waste thinking it will not harm or be discovered, to the individual who buckles under pressure and compromises a belief, down to those who choose to be dishonest to others and ultimately betray themselves.

This idea is inspired by some of my own experiences of the last 13 years, as well, and I promise… it is all written in the book!

Invisible People

I suppose this song may be construed as my "fanfare for the individual."

There seems to be a growing tendency to "dehumanize" the individual by way of such mechanisms as account numbers and statistics, and although this is not a new observation, it appears that the "collective power" of the people is once again becoming a potential of increasing significance. The changing face of South Africa could be cited as one example of this.

There are often times when I wonder whether the power to control society and its progress rests in the hands of a very few powerful people, moguls of industry and heads of state, and that generally we have no real control over the future.

However, I must remain the perpetual optimist and have written this song about two types of "invisible people"… those who feel helpless by virtue of their "apparent" insignificance in the scheme of things, and those who, although they may indeed wield the kind of power that can alter the progress of our future choose to hide behind their desks for fear of being held responsible for their actions.

The "grandstanding" voice in the closing section of the song ("The glory of the United States of America," "Sell his soul," "Alleluia" etc.) is courtesy of the rather suspect evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.

Feed The Machine

Somewhere deep in the vaults of the ABC there is a tape which is dated roughly 1974 or so. The tape is a live recording which was done in the then "Double J" studios of a rather peculiar acoustic band. The band was called Afghan and was a creation of myself and my then writing partner Danny Blundell.

This all occurred well before the formation of Flowers (a.k.a. Icehouse). Although most of the material was original there are some significant cover versions included in the set… some T-Rex songs and… believe it or not… a less well known Led Zeppelin song!

I suppose the style of Led Zeppelin has not often been associated with my songwriting but they remain a significant influence in my own introduction to music of this popular idiom, and their influence on this particular song is unashamedly apparent. I'm a great admirer of Paul's drumming and it is obvious that he has studied and mastered the style of the legendary John Bonham, whose drumming drove that band's music so powerfully.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions about the nature of the "machine" in this song because I'm sure that there are occasions when we all feel a bit like "mice on the tread-wheel." My song is a simple analogy of this situation described as a "suffocating" relationship.


There has always been a special significance attached to "Cadillac" for the main three writers of this album (myself, David, and Paul) because this was the first song that we wrote together late in 1992.

It still represents the most distinct example of the styles which we admired in common and which we were discussing before attempting to begin the Big Wheel project.

Lyrically I suppose the humour of this song is rather black… it is perhaps timely that there has been some controversy over the recent purchase of Prime Minister Paul Keating's four black, bullet-proofed limousines… although originally I had imagined that my "Cadillac" was perhaps a presidential limousine!

Needless to say, my analogy is as simple as this. The president, prime minister, leader or whoever, who has the responsibility of "steering" us into the future is enjoying the trappings of their position to such a degree that they are (like some notable "pop stars") partying down in the back of their limousine, mindless of the responsibility of their position.

The irony of this "cavalier" attitude is that the foremost thought in their minds as they crash on into the future is that the limousine is a "Cadillac"… always a symbol of decadent wealth and status… good luck!... there is nobody driving!

Sam The Man

I have always been a great fan, not only of Humphrey Bogart, but of his co-star and real life partner, Lauren Bacall.

Both those characters appear in this song as a kind of cartoon version of their classic Hollywood creations represented in their films of that era. One of Mr. Bogart's most famous roles was that of "Sam Spade, Private Detective."

In this 1993 version our hero "Sam" is once again on the trail. There is no deep meaning to this particular song… it is, I hope, as it was to write and record, a bit of fun.

During the recording of the backing vocals by myself, David, and Paul, a particular unforeseen accident occurred which prompted the general deterioration of the singers into laughter and in true professional style, we never bothered to erase it!... hence the chaos at the front of the track!

Ben Nightingale, formerly of Psychlone Smile, is an outstanding young Sydney guitarist and added some great additional rhythm guitar to this track for us.

David has obviously missed his calling as a "vaudeville" performer… "'Ullo, 'ullo, who's ya lady friend…" …indeed!

Stolen Guitar

Every band has a "stolen guitar" story. My most dearly loved Gibson "Les Paul" custom guitar (which featured on the Flowers album) was stolen shortly after the recording of that album from a seedy pub in Sydney and, although it was not particularly valuable and although I owned a string a similar guitars in years to follow in an attempt to replace it, I never did find one that was quite as good!

Years later it was made known to me that the guitar was hidden under a bed somewhere in Fairfield and although I was prepared to "buy" it back I never got my hands on it… if you are out there… I am still prepared to buy it back, no questions asked!

This particular story is about the circular nature of the "fashion" wheel which hands the "crown of the hour" from the established to the next generation of "pop stars" in a constant cycle! The vehicle or "crown" in this story is, of course, the stolen guitar… they always sound better, you know! I won't tell you where my current favourite guitar came from!

The System

This song is one of those rare occasions (for me, anyway!), when an idea presents itself without prompting and a set of lyrics almost writes itself.

It took only 15 minutes or so to write these lyrics, although the music which accompanies them took rather longer! The idea, once again, may not be a new one but I hope at least that the observations have a new and more current context.

One of the reasons that we chose to close the album with this song is that, once it was written, it almost appeared to relate back to the opening track "Big Wheel" in subject and it seemed a suitably "circular" conclusion to the collection of songs.

The idea is simply this. The four verses are demonstrations of the macro-micro nature of "wheels within wheels" and underlying this obvious "system" the observation of the results of pushing that system beyond its capabilities.

The fourth and final verse is, of course, a personal perspective. Having experienced this kind of "breakdown" I can verify the peculiarity of not being able to recognize certain obvious things… however we are all still here… perhaps the results of those "breaking points" is where our most valuable ideas are found!