The Church have been on the scene since around 1982 when Steve Kilbey founded the group in Sydney, Australia. It was fairly popular down under, and as more albums would show, they became more ethereal, psychedelic, with a touch of Pink Floyd and The Byrds, but with his lilting soft bass vocals and guitars combined with the interplay of guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper that sometimes were so enmeshed one could barely tell them apart. The massive success of the single “Under The Milky Way” from their biggest selling album Starfish opened many doors and with their penchant for experimentation, The Church was always their dreamy self, but never repetitive. Here’s 10 albums for those who love psychedelic “trippy” atmosphere and just brilliant and beautiful music.
The Church released their first album entitled Of Skins And Hearts in 1981. From that point on the band released The Blurred Crusade (1982) Seance (1983) Heyday (1985) Starfish (1988) Gold Afternoon Fix (1990) Priest=Aura (1992) Sometime Anywhere (1994) Magician Among the Spirits (1996) Hologram of Baal (1998) After Everything Now This (2002) Forget Yourself (2003) Jammed (2004) Uninvited, Like the Clouds (2006) Untitled #23 (2009) Further/Deeper (2014) and Man Woman Life Death Infinity in (2017).
Here is our favorite 10 albums from the band The Church. We highly recommend checking out this band especially for for those who love psychedelic “trippy” atmosphere and just brilliant and beautiful music.
10) Man Woman Life Death Infinity
We open up our top 10 albums by the Church with their most recent released entitled Man Woman Life Death Infinity. The album was released in 2017. The band reportedly has a replacement for guitarist Ian Haug, who replaced Marty Willson-Piper, and another new guitarist in the wings for a new album to be issued before long. But this most recent release was a welcome album that was more dreamy and ethereal than the last couple albums before it. It is indeed more reminiscent of After Everything, Now This, and that’s a good thing.
9) Of Skins and Hearts
The band’s first album was also the most rocking. The album was released in 1982. This great record entitled Of Skins and Heart contained a few gems in Australia’s charts like “The Unguarded Moment”, some harder rocking guitar with Peter Koppes taking the lead role. “Is This Where You Live” is a spacey rocking cut, and the album overall is quite different. Think of the label at that height in the New Wave craze in 1982 trying to find another Duran Duran. Important because it does show where their sound started to gel.
8) Gold Afternoon Fix
The follow up to Starfish is a languid affair for the most part. It benefitted from being right after Starfish but it has some truly “golden” moments itself. “Monday Morning”, “City” and “Disappointment” are as beautiful as The Church can get. The album’s lead single entitled “Metropolis” hit number one on the US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts. The album Gold Afternoon Fix was released in 1990.
If one term can be used to describe an album, “luxurious” is perfect for this brilliant album. How The Church managed to totally capture the essence of the Marco Polo Silk Road vibe is beyond hearing, but with one of the most beautiful guitar songs ever with “Tristesse” and the equally impressive “Happy Hunting Ground” the listener feels like they’re in the presence of greatness in somebody’s castle.
6) The Blurred Crusade
The second album entitled The Blurred Crusade was the defining one for which all Church music would follow. The Blurred Crusade was released in 1982. The sounds of Willson-Piper’s 12 string Rickenbacker and outer space vibe on “Fields Of Mars”, and the centerpiece “You Took” are just two great songs here. The album’s opening track Almost With You was released as the record’s first single from the album. The band followed up that single with the release of the cut “When You We Mine.” This album has been listed in the top 100 Australian rock album releases of all time in the bands native home of Australia.
5) Magician Among The Spirits
This is an incredibly rich album. Kilbey in particular was very fond of the title track, a 13 minute seance of quiet and sanguine music that could, if any music was able, raise the spirits from their slumber. The album has some more accessible pop rock – “Ladyboy” and “Come Down” could and should have been great ’80’s guitar pop songs. The only clunker is “The Ritz”, but the rest is magic.
4) After Everything Now This
A truly beautiful album, with melodies a mile long and wide. This is one of pop rock’s gentlest guitar albums, but absolutely gorgeous, especially “The Awful Ache” and “Night Friends”.
3) Remote Luxury
This started out as a couple EP’s on the Australian market but the band decided to re-release them as a single album, and for a pairing of different releases it works surprisingly well. The band’s most poppy album but with “Shadow Cabinet”, “Constant In Opal” and “No Explanation” one can only wonder how this escaped the attention of the Top 40 world.
This album may be the most beautiful of all their albums. It almost defies explanation, the guitars doing such a great job of creating atmospheres and gentle waves of melody. Many Church fans including Steve Kilbey consider this perhaps their greatest album.
At number one on our top 10 albums by The Church is the record Starfish. This great album was easily their most successful album. Starfish was home to “Under The Milky Way,” the absolutely breathtaking single that eventually pushed the album to gold status. The album is truly their centerpiece in the midst of their other albums. The songs are very very strong, the melodies instantly memorable, and its interplay between the musicians has never been tighter. There were four singles released from the Starfish album. Single releases were still a big deal in the 1980s especially in the United States where the Church had their most commercial success with the Starfish album. “Under The Milky Way,” was released as the first single from the album. The song was also featured in an episode of the hit shows of the 1980s entitled Miami Vice. The songs “Reptile, Destination and Antenna,” were released as subsequent singles. The album Starfish is highly recommended as a starting point for a truly amazing band.
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Top 10 Albums By The Church article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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