Sunday, July 16, 2017


The band, fool , not the archaic and useless religious institution.  I’ve been  a fan of these guys since ’83 or so, and their whole career has been pretty amazing.    Not a lot of weak spots.  Kilbey’s lyrics are usually entertaining, even if his serious “poetry” is kind of sophomoric wankery.  Like J Morrison, if he didn’t have the music career, no one would pay attention to his writing.  Also like Mr Mojo Risin, it gets borderline pretentious/laughable with alarming regularity.  But I digress…..

PHASE 1 was the pre-fame years, first album thru HEYDAY.  A very solid period for the band, with the self-titled version of the debut and HEYDAY both being 5 star releases.

PHASE 2 was the Arista period, the brief burst of international fame and then the slide back into cult band obscurity.  Only 4 albums (and a compilation) long but, again, an incredible period.  STARFISH gets all the recognition, but i always thought GAF was better.  In any event, they all kick ass.  By SOMETIME ANYWHERE the band was whittled down to just Kilbey & Wilson-Piper and, even tho Arista was cool enough to include a bonus disc of outtakes with the first pressing of the CD (and they also re-issued all the older stuff that hadn’t been available in the US before), they weren’t going to bother ponying up any dough for promotions or a tour, so this album is also officially the beginning of the WILDERNESS YEARS.

Which is PHASE 3.   They were a full band by the end of it (with their longest-running lineup), but this is where I noticed that most of the reviews when the albums first came out were fairly dismissive.  Grunge and post-grunge and grunge-lite and nu metal and all that suckass shit was in favor at the time, and there was no room for The Church in this new world order.  Which always struck me as kind of funny, that bands get dismissed because they don’t sound like what’s popular at the time.  Could professional-type critics be any more knee-jerk reactionary & lame-assed?

Anyway, I include HOLOGRAM and the covers album in this phase, based mainly on record label uncertainty and the bad/indifferent press the band seemed to be getting.  Again, a solid period for the band, tho.  A lot of experimenting and drifting away from the pop song formula.  And with good results.

And then, BAM!, PHASE 4.  The longest (and weakest) phase.  Suddenly the band went from being has-beens who were stuck in the past to elder statesman of grandiose psychedelic rock.   The reviews get more glowing, even if the music doesn’t always carry the weight of the praise.  AENT kicks off this phase in most excellent fashion but, from there, it’s kind of hit and miss, what with the outtakes and the acoustic versions and the remixes and the whatnot.   Maybe the band needed the money? 

Most Church releases (for me) are at least 3 ½ stars.  If there any 2 or 2 ½ star releases, tho, this is the period you’ll find them in.  Approach with caution, but still expect to be dazzled fairly regularly.

PHASE 5 is still in its early stages, only the last album on this list.   It’s an excellent album, so I’m hopeful for a possible future.  Wilson-Piper seems to be out of the band for good now, so it’s a new phase simply because of new guitarist Ian Haug.

Of Skins and Heart (1981) Released internationally as 
                               The Church in 1982 with variant tracks

The Blurred Crusade (1982)

Seance (1983)

Remote Luxury (1984)  Australian-only Persia and Remote
                                          Luxury EPs released as one album

Heyday (1985)

Starfish (1988)

Gold Afternoon Fix (1990)

A Quick Smoke at Spot's: Archives 1986-1990 (1991)
     Outtakes from the Starfish & Gold Afternoon Fix eras

Priest=Aura (1992)

Sometime Anywhere (1994) The first pressing contained
                                   the bonus disc Somewhere Else

Magician Among the Spirits (1996) Re-released in 1999
                            as Magician Among the Spirits Plus Some
                                                                    with variant tracks

Pharmakoi/Distance-Crunching Honchos with Echo Units (1997)
                     As “The Refo:mation”,  without Peter Koppes

Hologram of Baal (1998) The first pressing contained the
                                              bonus disc Bastard Universe

A Box of Birds (1999) Covers album

After Everything Now This (2002)

Parallel Universe (2002) Remixes (disc 1) and outtakes
         (disc 2) from the After Everything Now This sessions

Forget Yourself (2003)

Jammed (2004)

Beside Yourself (2004) Outtakes from the Forget Yourself

El Momento Descuidado (2004) Acoustic remakes plus five new

Back with Two Beasts (2005) Outtakes from the Uninvited, Like
                                                                    the Clouds sessions

Uninvited, Like the Clouds (2006)

El Momento Siguiente (2007) Acoustic remakes plus three new
                                                                      songs and a cover

Shriek: Excerpts from the Soundtrack (2008) Short film

Untitled #23 (2009)

Further/Deeper (2014)

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