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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Church, The - 1988 Starfish
Church, The - 1988 Starfish

ARTIST: Church, The
ALBUM: Starfish
LABEL: Arista
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: Reissue List


LINEUP: Steve Kilbey - bass, lead vocals * Peter Koppes - guitars, lead vocals * Marty Wilson-Piper - guitars, lead vocals * Richard Ploog - drums, percussion

Additional Musicians: Greg Kuehn - keyboards * Russ Kunkel - drums, percussion * David Lindley - mandolin * Waddy Wachtel - backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Destination * 02 Under The Milky Way * 03 Blood Money * 04 Lost * 05 North, South, East And West * 06 Spark * 07 Antenna * 08 Reptile * 09 A New Season * 10 Hotel Womb


'Eric, what are they doing here', you might be asking yourself? Well, The Church are one of the most critically acclaimed bands to come out of Australia and yes, admittedly much of their diverse catalog is borderline to what we normally cover on these pages, yet in my artpop mind, like Icehouse and Split Enz; their boundless creativity and fiercely independent attitude has always set them apart. Dabbling in mystical Byrds-styled psychedelia with 1982's Bob Clearmountain (Bryan Adams, Michael Stanley Band) produced 'The Blurred Crusade' and the oddly titled 'Priest=Aura' released in 1992 which took a stab at progressive rock and all points in between; The Church have always been an island unto themselves since their inception in Sydney in 1980.

The Songs
While the band made minor strides on the Australian charts with a handful of wonderful singles, international success was frustratingly elusive until the release of their fifth studio album 'Starfish' in 1988. Recorded in Los Angeles with the unlikely duo of west coast session players Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi as producers, the album's sound was unlike any other Church album before it. Atmospheric, spacious and uncluttered; 'Starfish' was an instant hit anchored by the evergreen single 'Under The Milky Way'. Like it was yesterday, I can remember when I first heard the tune rolling down a Minnesota highway on a cold windswept morning and was awestruck by what was coming out of the radio. It's pace, the sound of bagpipes and tasteful guitars backed by sweeping keyboards, it had and still has everything that makes for a great single. But the rest of the album has much to offer as well, including 'Blood Money' which believe it or not reminds me of prime-time Dire Straits in a foul mood, The Kinks/ Ray Davies-ish 'Lost' and the jangly uptempo 'Reptile' making for a stupendous collection of top tier pop. It's no wonder 'Starfish' is considered one of Australia's top 100 records of all time.

In Summary
Unfortunately, The Church are often seen as a one hit wonder, especially in North America and were never able to repeat the mainstream success of 'Under The Milky Way', nor did they want to. Despite label problems and nagging lineup changes, they've continued to release excellent albums including 2003's 'Forget Yourself' and 'Uninvited, Like The Clouds' in 2006 which is one of my personal favorites but really you can't go wrong with anything they've done and these days, how many band's can you say that about?

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#1 | Explorer on August 20 2017 21:33:30
An under appreciated band for sure. Personal favourites of mine are 'Some time,Anywhere' and 'Gold Afternoon Fix', good to see The Church represented here at GDM.
#2 | Nick C on August 20 2017 21:56:17
Blurred Crusade was an excellent album which I originally bought for the cover only...ha. I should replace it as it has a big ding in side 1 from many years ago when I skillfully dropped the vinyl against the corner of my hifi unit.
#3 | Eric on August 20 2017 21:59:20
Ha! I bought 'Blurred Crusade' for the sleeve too! Very proggy looking and fortunately the music was great too.
#4 | Nick C on August 20 2017 22:03:25
Yeah...I still love the sleeve, I'll have to get it out of the loft - it's not in my main collection as it's partly unplayable. I was just looking at replacing it on CD, wish I'd have thought sooner as the prices are whacked, might invest in a fresh piece of vinyl off eBay over the next few weeks.
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