Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.

Tuesday

A Swirl Of Psychedelic Rock



On their debut, Of Skins and Heart, The Church play straightforward pop/rock firmly rooted in new wave, though owing no small debt to '60s pop. Edgier and more direct than their later work, it also ranks among their finest for that very reason. None of the excesses and ambitions that would sometimes get out of hand on later releases are present, though much of the band's basic formula was laid down -- Steve Kilbey's cool, detached vocals and slightly surrealistic lyrics combined with some outstanding pop hooks, nice harmonies, and layers of ringing guitar. The classic "Unguarded Moment" (arguably one of the greatest singles of the '80s) overshadows much of the material on the album, but there is really no shortage of great songs here.

While the group never truly gained the popular acclaim many thought was due, The Church have still managed to carve out a consistently interesting career for themselves, moving from underground sensation to (briefly) popular mainstream act to legendary veterans, all while never resting on their laurels. A reassessment of the Australian quartet’s early LP’s is especially useful considering how well it displays the band finding their way toward their signature sound, a swirl of psychedelic rock that contains familiar elements but that sounds like no one but The Church.

Fans who entered The Church following the international success of their fifth album Starfish and its career-defining hit single “Under the Milky Way” might be surprised by the forthright sound of the band’s debut album Of Skins and Heart. The gauzy psychedelia for which the group would become known appears only in hints and glimmers here. Instead the band (bassist/ singer/ songwriter Steve Kilbey, guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, and drummer Nick Ward) boasts a rocking sound that’s more in line with the rising tide of 80’s new wave. It sounds like a young band with talent to burn, eager to get its ideas down on vinyl as quickly and energetically as possible.

The snarling post-punk “Fighter Pilot…Korean War,” the straightforward ballad “Don’t Open the Door to Strangers” and the bombastic “Memories in Future Tense” sound very different from the band with which most people would become familiar – the guitars are much more muscular and less pretty. Steve Kilbey had not yet found his style as a vocalist, pushing his natural croon into an urgent yelp influenced by his 70s glam rock heroes. It mostly fits but he occasionally sounds like he’s straining beyond his comfort zone. Sprightly pop rockers like “She Never Said,” “For a Moment We’re Strangers,” “Chrome Injury” (which is marred by a dated electronic percussion thwack) and the Australian hit “The Unguarded Moment” show some of the group’s hallmarks – the uncommon chemistry between Koppes and Willson-Piper’s axes, Kilbey’s enigmatic lyrics – but also have a stripped down, propulsive power folks rarely associate with the band now. The leisurely epic “Is This Where You Live” and the jangling “Bel-Air” give hints of what was to come, but overall Of Skins and Heart sounds like the work of a different band than The Church we all know – though quite a good band, to be sure.


Ripped from a long deleted and now ridiculously over priced remastered and expanded 1988 CD to MP3 @ 320kbps

The Church: Of Skins And Hearts

1.     For A Moment We're Strangers
2.     Chrome Injury
3.     The Unguarded Moment
4.     Memories In Future Tense
5.     Bel-Air
6.     Is This Where You Live
7.     She Never Said
8.     Fighter Pilot...Korean War
9.     Don't Open The Door To Strangers
10.                        Too Fast For You
11.                        Tear It All Away
12.                        Sisters
 

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