Reviews Zone

Tom Mansi & The Icebreakers: Eyeball (Lunaria Records) 28th June 2024


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



UK trio Tom Mansi & The Icebreakers describe themselves as “Rock n roll blues alternative originals three-piece fronted by howling double bass player with drums and guitar.”

The band formed 18 years ago in 2006 and will drop their fourth album, “Eyeball” on 28th June 2024, their first for Lunaria Records, to add to their back catalogue of May 2008’s “Love On The Rails” LP, March 2011’s “Perils A Plenty” LP and the 2016 LP “Rock & Roll On Bones”, plus the EP “Holly” in 2007.

Tom Mansi delivers lead vocals, double bass, acoustic guitar and synth’. Paul White on electric, acoustic and lap steel guitars, keyboards and backing vocals. James Johnston is on drums, percussion and BVs.

As a double bassist Tom has worked with many different artists, touring with 60’s folk singer Donovan, recording for British DJ duo Cold Cut, preforming alongside Dr Hook at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul and playing nightly in a surreal lecture tour with film maker David Lynch.

Tom Mansi, Paul White and James Johnston met in 1997 at school in North London. They have performed at many venues and festivals across the UK and Europe including – Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, The Big Chill, The Scala and Hammersmith Palais.

Supporting the likes of Son of Dave, Imelda May, Florence & The Machine, The Sadies and Fat Freddie’s Drop. The band also had four year Saturday night residency at the Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch in London playing their original material.

Eight tracks on the new album, produced by Rory Carlile, with all songs written by Tom Mansi, except track six, “Thinking Of You On The Moon” penned by Tom, Paul and James. The record is raw, bluesy and rockin’, with nods to rockabilly, psychobilly, r&b and more.

Additional help on the album comes from Jude McIntyre and Lana Shelley with “additional vocals” and Chris Bland with “additional organ and Wurlitzer”. “Eyeball” also features members of the Tottenham Community Choir directed by Nicki Williamson.

It opens with some choppy guitar a la Wilko Johnson or Mick Green of The Pirates, and a throbbing upright bass line is the backbone to the opener “Pushback Blues”; with a rockabilly style vocal. Pleasing start. The title track up next and a slow burner with a lovely slide guitar contribution from Paul White.

Dr Feelgood/Wilko Johnson’s strut on “Maybe Baby”, with an aggressive vocal from Tom that fits nicely. “The  Shot” has that Herbie Flowers-style “Walk On The Wild Side”/Lou Reed and The Cure’s Phil Thornalley’s fat double bass sound [“The Love Cats”] from Tom, which is very nice.

“Should Be Easy” sits on a chugging psychobilly guitar with a moody vocal. “Thinking Of You On The Moon” slows the pace, but is far too long at more than six minutes, and there’s 98 seconds of vocalese – with some impressive falsetto and high end of the register vocalising from Tom – a wee bit indulgent, still enjoyable, but would be a much stronger track at say 3.30.

“Got To be Gone” sits on a mid-tempo country vibe, but doesn’t fit for me and needs tightening up on the arrangement. The last cut, “No Face Blues” nails the groove from the off, with pumping bass helping drive it on, with maybe a Southern rock nod.

The likes of George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Wilko Johnson, Dr Feelgood, Mick Green and The Pirates flashed into my head while listening to this enjoyable eight-tracker. A  throwback to the London “pub rock” scene of the 1970s…

Yeah, this lot trigger great memories of haunts such as The Hope & Anchor in Islington, The Marquee, The Mean Fiddler and the Dublin Castle in Camden – pub rock/r&b in the true sense of the genre; and not some teenager going off on vocal acrobatics with what they call r&b today!

Tom and his Icebreakers would have been among the stars of that scene had they been born a tad earlier! But there is a place for them in 2024, for sure.


Words: Andy Faith


1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’




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