A Box of Birds
by The Church
REVIEWS and COMMENTS
Veteran psychedelic pop quartet the Church pays smart, very personal homage to its influences on this covers collection. The Aussie band's taste is unerring, and its execution nearly so. The Church's druggy rendition of Iggy Pop's gutter-intellectual classic "The Endless Sea" makes the most of the tune's hypnotic power, and the group takes Neil Young's moving dirge "Cortez The Killer" down an impressively impressionistic byway. Television's rocker "Friction" is rendered less brittle but hardly less involving, while George Harrison's "It's All Too Much" is amped-up to nice effect. Perhaps David Bowie/Mott The Hoople's "All The Young Dudes" was better left alone. But Ultravox's "Hiroshima Mon Amour" is better in this swirling guise, and Alex Harvey's sinister "The Faith Healer" is masterfully remade. "A Box Of Birds" is one of the best cover albums in recent memory, with the originals retaining their essence even as they're imbued with the distinctive Church sound.
Rating: 5 out of 7
At some point in the career of nearly every band, the opportunity presents itself to pay homage to a batch of songs that were particularly influential—or just downright fun. And a band with a sound as distinctive as the Church makes for the ideal group to record such a collection.
Scanning the song list should be enough to pique your interest. The tunes range from Hawkwind's "Silver Machine" and Ultravox's "Hiroshima Mon Amour" to Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer" and Television's "Friction." If some of the selections raise an eyebrow—Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "The Porpoise Song," for instance—trust the band's instincts. Beginning with Alex Harvey's "The Faith Healer," it's obvious the object was to use the original version as inspiration rather than a blueprint. In fact, it may take a chorus or two to recognize George Harrison's "It's All Too Much" or Kevin Ayers' "Decadence." "Friction" and David Bowie's "All The Young Dudes" end up being the closest to the originals, while "Cortez The Killer" and Iggy Pop's "The Endless Sea" give the band the most room to experiment with atmospherics.
Like the covers on Bowie's Pin Ups LP, the Church puts such a unique stamp on the tunes that many end up sounding like they could have been written by Steve Kilbey and Marty Willson-Piper.
Excerpt from "SING IT AGAIN! THE TOP 6 AUSTRALIAN COVERS ALBUMS" by Christopher Hollow
Like a phoenix rising from the flames, sometimes covers albums are about renewal and rebirth. A Box Of Birds is definitely the sound of a band being re-invigorated. Most of the songs are fiery rave-ups from Television's 'Friction' to Hawkwind's 'Silver Machine' and George Harrison's 'It's All Too Much' (with its great nod to Eddy Grant's 'Electric Avenue'). Obviously enjoying themselves, the band also stretch/bliss out on songs like 'Decadence' (Kevin Ayers), 'Porpoise Song' (The Monkees) and Iggy Pop's 'The Endless Sea'. The highlight is an inspired re-working of the Ultravox song, 'Hiroshima, Mon Amour'.
Do not overlook this album because it's covers of other peoples' songs. This is a very clever album, with a great selection of covers--truly not a bad track on this CD. It plays from start to end with an encapsulation awe, tainted with a touch psychedelic joy. The sound quality is brilliant. It's a 10/10.
A fan's delight!
The Church have covered various artists throughout their career when performing live. This is a thank you to the fans, pure and simple and it works quite well, considering that most cover albums can be embarrassing to most bands.
Cortez the Killer is better than Neil Young's version. MUCH better. No, I will NOT take that back, I like it BETTER. Sacrilege? Listen to this killer 11 minute plus track and tell me that is doesn't kick Neil's version out of the room!
Iggy's Endless Sea is masterfully covered here as well. A perfect song for Steve's delivery!
My other fave is It's All Too Much. Perfect homage to George Harrison and they rock with this one while having fun.
As I have said before, it is great when a band like the Church stay serious and committed to their atmospheric tunes, but when they get a chance to have FUN with the music, I am happy for THEM as much as for myself when the love of musicianship shines through.
This album is a clear example of The Church having FUN and it shows.