Let's be honest - major labels exist to make money. This usually comes from signing lowest-common-denominator schlock and intelligence-insulting, pandering dreck. Major labels are not “cool”, if I might be so immature as to define things in that light. And do they care? Fuck, no. They may occasionally sign “cool” bands, but these are usually tax write-offs.
Even in this un-cool world of major-labelism, Arista stands out as particularly dorky. Look at their track record, see who they’ve signed, refer to my above descriptors (i.e. schlock and dreck).
And yet, they signed The Church after two other U.S. labels had dumped them, and for this we owe eternal gratitude. But wait! The Church the, somehow, some way, scored a minor hit with the STARFISH (1988) album and the “Under the Milky Way” single, and Arista went above and beyond and released the vast majority of pre-STARFISH Church music on CD and budget priced cassette. Five albums worth of out-of-print or never-released-in-America tunes. Holy shit.
And then GOLD AFTERNOON FIX (1990), an amazing record (and, to my ears, song-for-song stronger than STARFISH) was released and flopped (translation: sold only half of what STARFISH did). And Arista decided to honor their contract and keep the band aboard for two more albums. I assume they were rolling in Whitney Houston profits at this point and figured “Why the hell not?”
And oh what albums they were….. It was the grunge era, and The Church couldn’t have cared less. THESE ALBUMS WERE BORN TO FAIL MIGHTILY, AND FAIL MIGHTILY THEY DID. But they were awesome. PRIEST + AURA (1992) with its pure opium vibe, and then SOMETIME ANYWHERE (1994) with its long, meandering, zero-commercial-potential tunes and haunted-house-in-late-afternoon groove. Glorious, glorious shit.
And then Arista even footed the bill for a bonus CD released with the first pressing of SOMETIME ANYWHERE (cleverly called SOMEWHERE ELSE), an additional seven songs that no one beyond the hardcore Church community would ever care about.
So I give full props to Arista for supporting The Church for this amazing six year run. It almost makes up for Milli Vanilli.