Monday, October 17, 2011

The Church Series, #1: The Church- Starfish (1988) Deluxe Edition (Bonus Disc) MP3 & FLAC

"The pursuit of adulation is your butter and your bread; it's an exquisite corpse and its lips are red, and its teeth are glistening."

The Church's fourth album, Heyday, released in 1986, was a pivotal experience for the band, as it marked the first time they had attempted to write an album collectively (previous to this, Steve Kilbey had served as the primary song-writer), and they did so despite the fact that going in to the recording sessions, the band was on the verge of disintegration. Steve Kilbey: "I think we released a few dud records that weren't as good as they should have been, after The Blurred Crusade, the band was just drifting along in a sea of apathy. I was writing not-so-good songs and the band wasn't playing them very well, so everyone's enthusiasm just waned." While the process of creating Heyday gave The Church a creative second-wind, the album failed to break through commercially; as a result, the band was unceremoniously jettisoned by their record label, EMI. As Kilbey recalls, "One day [...] I went into EMI and met the big chief who was this big fat fellow with a gold chain around his neck [....] I don't think he had ever thought about the Church before and suddenly he became aware of this irritating little mosquito that was on his label. About a week later the call came through: 'your album has been postponed indefinitely.'" At this point, the various members of The Church decided to go their own separate ways, several intending to focus on solo projects; however, when they quite unexpectedly garnered major-label interest in the U.S. from Arista in early 1987, they quickly decided to reform the band. As The Church had consistently enjoyed more commercial success abroad than at home in Australia, Arista pushed for the band to record their next album, Starfish, in Los Angeles with a couple of well-known session guitarists/engineers/producers, Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi, who, with résumés filled with names such as Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, and Fleetwood Mac, seemed, at the time, a strange fit for a group of Aussie psych-rockers with a taste for the esoteric.

Steve Kilbey
Kilbey: "I really do like the random element of doing things and when these guys were suggested, I liked the idea that anything could happen. The Church recording in Los Angeles with these guys was a ridiculous concept. I mean Waddy Wachtel is this long-haired, sort of Furry Freak Brother, and Greg Ladanyi was a complete unknown. But somehow it worked." However, the Starfish sessions were contentious from the start; as Kilbey describes it, "It was Australian hippies versus West Coast guys who know the way they like to do things. We were a bit more undisciplined than they would have liked." Reportedly there were bitter clashes over guitar sounds and Wachtel's insistence that the band master techniques they had previously avoided; at one point, Wachtel even had Kilbey take some vocal lessons. The band's distaste for living in L.A. also affected the sessions. Kilbey: "The Church came to L.A. and really reacted against the place because none of us liked it [....] All the billboards, conversations I'd overhear, TV shows, everything that was happening to us was going into the music." Despite the difficult circumstances surrounding its birth, Starfish represented a huge step forward for the band, not only in terms of refining their sound by introducing some minimalism into the mix, but also in terms of honing their musicianship. Kilbey: "Seven years ago, if someone had asked me if I would ever get better at singing, playing bass, and writing songs, I would have gone, 'No I know everything about it. I've reached excellence and now I'll continue to maintain it.' What I realize now is that I don't know much at all, and I hope I'll continue to improve."

What had made The Church's previous album, Heyday, so distinctive was its orchestrated sound, as producer Peter Walsh had made liberal use of multi-tracking instruments and vocals to lend the album its oceanic depth and ethereal textures. In contrast, on Starfish, Wachtel & Ladanyi spent the better part of a month rehearsing the band before entering the studio in an effort pare their sound down to its essential guitar-based core, an approach The Church would embrace to varying degrees until guitarist Peter Koppes exited the band in 1993. Though the band voiced its concerns about the album sounding too spare, it did manage to capture their live sound to a far greater degree than previous albums. Marty Willson-Piper: "It's really strange that this album is more obscure yet more commercial; it's gentler but harder sounding. Basically it's a guitar album. See, the band live has this soaring energy, a much harder edge than we have been recorded, and I told them [Wachtel & Ladanyi] that that's what we wanted in the studio this time." While The Church's only hit single, "Under the Milky Way" recalls the esoteric lushness of previous albums, songs such as "Blood Money," "North, South, East and West," and "Reptile" reveal a much more muscular though still highly melodic guitar-dominated approach. While these songs are all quite strong and memorable, the most distinct tracks are the album's slower numbers such as "Destination," Lost," and the gorgeous guitar waltz "Antenna," a song featuring Kilbey's new-found vocal prowess. Kilbey: "I wanted The Church to build a snakey, slimey feel because one thing I want to kill forever with this album is 'paisley mop-tops play jingle-jangle music.' It was great in 1981 but it just isn't where I'm at anymore. I really want to get into this evil, nastier sort of theme."

(EMI ~ 2005/1988 ~ Deluxe Remastered 2-Disc Edition)

Disc 1: Starfish (2005 Remaster)

 1. Destination  (5:53)
 2. Under the Milky Way  (4:58)
 3. Blood Money  (4:24)
 4. Lost  (4:49)
 5. North, South, East and West  (4:50)
 6. Spark  (3:45)
 7. Antenna  (3:50)
 8. Reptile  (4:56)
 9. A New Season  (2:58)
10. Hotel Womb  (5:39)

 The Church- "Under the Milky Way" (1988) Live on Italian Television

Disc II: Bonus Material

 1. Texas Moon  (5:46)
 2. Perfect Child  (2:55)
 3. We Both Know Why You're Here  (2:21)
 4. Frozen and Distant  (3:58)
 5. Anna Miranda  (3:04)
 6. Nose Dive  (3:26)
 7. Afterlife  (4:14)
 8. Under the Milky Way (Acoustic Version)  (4:08)
 9. Antenna (Acoustic Version)  (3:46)
10. Spark (Acoustic Version)  (3:28)
11. Warm Spell  (4:38)
12. Musk  (3:54)

The Church- "Reptile" Video (1988)

Additional Church Series Posts & Related


  1. Yep I didn't have this one. Actually I lost everything but the Skin and Heart album.... Or they are on one of many hard drives.... So a big thank you!

  2. I could use your help please.The link for the bonus disc doesn't work properly.It downloads the first 3.93 megabytes and it stops.I have tried three times with the same result.Can you fix it if it is possible?Thank you very much.

  3. mythochrist, my apologies regarding the bonus disc link. Megaupload has been a little unreliable lately. I will re-up the second disc later today and will leave a comment when I do, thanks!

  4. Exquisite! Many thanks. Kurt

  5. i'll be seeing the church, along with the triffids and ed keupper in a few weeks. "getting pumped" as my kids would say :)

  6. bedlam, I'd be pumped too. Got an extra ticket? ;)

  7. I am sorry to bother you again.I just wanted to ask if the Flac link of Disc 2 is working now?
    Thanks in advance!

  8. Hi, yes, I re-upped the file last week

  9. Ohh Bedlam, the envy, the envy! Not just The Church but The Triffids and Mr. Keupper! I'll just listen to this Deluxe Ed. Looking foward for The Church series. Thanks Voixautre.

  10. HI
    I like this blog!But I can't download the CD2 .It begins aright,then about 2 minutes later it doesn't work.Is it my problem?

  11. The green youth, do you mean the FLAC link? I DLed it and it worked fine for me

  12. Ths,Let me try me again.May I am freedownloader.It limited.Your blog is very well,thanks again.

  13. The green youth, hi, if it doesn't work, let me know. I'll re-up the folder

  14. Hi,Voixautre,I don't know why I can't download anything from megaupload today.Yestoday,it works well.But today when I click,it notice that 502 Read from server failed: Unknown error.Is it the problem from megaupload or the problem with my computer?

  15. Maybe the problem is the Chrome.I try it in IE,then it work well.Thanks for share.

  16. The green youth, glad you were able to download it :)

  17. Starfish is one of the best albums ever. The 80s weren't so bad after all.


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