The Church began its existence in Canberra, Australia in 1980. The original band members were Steve Kilbey (bass, lead vocals), Marty Willson-Piper (guitar), Peter Koppes (guitar), and Tim Powles (drums). The line-up has changed over the ensuing nearly 30 years, but the core members of Kilbey, Willson-Piper, and Koppes have remained the same. (**Author’s note: please see “Don’s” comment below for the accurate drummer line-up and info for a forthcoming Church release).
Almost everyone who listened to the radio or watched MTV in the early 80’s remembers The Church’s most successful song, Under The Milky Way. It was a staple of nearly every current-music playlist and a very worthy hit. Dreamy, instrumentally profound, and chock full of mind-bending crescendos, it was followed by a lesser-known hit in Australia-only called Reptile. Both singles are from the band’s fifth (and superb) album release, Starfish.
I’ve taken the time – and I am encouraging you as well, if you already haven’t – to delve more deeply into this extraordinary band’s discography. As usual, the focus of this entry is on what the band produced in the 80’s or thereabouts; in this case, they even continue to record into the 00’s. The reason I say “or thereabouts” is because for The Church, I would like to make an exception and recommend Priest-Aura, released in 1992.
Many bands age like fine wine and The Church is true to form. If you take the time to listen to their LPs in order of release, they show a remarkable ability to evolve and grow from album to album. My personal favorite, next to the very well- crafted Starfish, has become Priest=Aura. The song Chaos is a wonderful cacophony of sounds and rhythms that evoke pictures of being lost in the universe, closely pursued by prey, the hounds nipping at your heels. Evidence of the early 90’s burgeoning style known as shoegaze can be heard in the hazy feedback of guitars and thrumming bass-line, but in a subtle and most appealing way.
The Church proved themselves a more-than-capable 80’s post-punk/New Wave/Prog band that managed to survive through the 90’s and beyond. If your only awareness of The Church begins and ends with Under The Milky Way, stop depriving yourself and start listening to all that this amazing Australian band has to offer.
“Reptile” (Live) via YouTube user stevekilbey2:
“Under The Milky Way” (Live) via YouTube user mitch547:
“Chaos” via YouTube user artman8764:
“Ripple” via YouTube user Apocryphile:
Purchase The Church music here.
Of Skins and Heart (1981)
The Blurred Crusade (1982)
Gold Afternoon Fix (1990)