The Church
by The Church


The Church
Carrere CAL 130

Before we get down to the real nitty gritty of why The Church will sell millions of records, I'd just like to divert your attention for a few moments to an insignificant matter of dynamics.

Remember the surging into to the Eagles' version of "Take It Easy", the way your hair stood on end when Harrison fingered that guitar bit on "Here Comes The Sun" and how your adrenalin rushed the first time you heard McGuinn hit his rampant way round that spiralling break in "Eight Miles High"?

Remember how Moon and Townshend and the magic they cooked up between them, could make you want to kick down the door, boot in the windows and hurl the establishment out?

Well, whatever your memories, I'll guarantee they're all here, gloriously reactivated on The Church's first album. If nothing else, it's a guitarist's wet dream, equalled only contemporarily by Petty in his prime for its passionately potent plagiarism.

But then, of course, there's so much more.

The Church are four smashing, skinny, young, stylish Antipodeans who sing marvellous rubbish about "girls with rifles for minds", play-act classically hurt, confused and bemused and have never ever heard of Bowie, Jagger or the Beatles!

The Church, if I may be so bold, are absolutely fab and you're just bound to lurve their Bondi Beach parties, their TV trips ("A palm tree nodded at me last night"), their lovers' tiffs and their posey paranoia.

If rock's still gotta hang round in 1982 it may as well make some indecent use of its powerful past rather than hanging around like someone else's bad smell. The Church realise this and although they may not be arrestingly original — I'm talking paisley here, but I'm not talking prannets — they're at least blatantly nostalgic and honestly narcissistic.

More like the Scars than U2 or Wah, The Church are one guitar-orientated rock band who mercifully make no big deal about being disciples and need no manifesto to cover their tracks as they brazenly follow their heroes along the route to super-stardom.

They manage to lift a good few taboos through their enthusiasm alone, pen one or two decent tunes and, amazingly enough, make rock a thing to rejoice in again.

Sounds good to me. Good sounds for this summer. Pray listen.

(Capitol ST-12193)

This Australian quartet explores the kind of youthful emotionalism that characterizes U2, ringing guitars and all, but they're nowhere near as flamboyant. Whether their tendency to understate stems from discretion or shyness, it's refreshing to find a credible record that unfolds slowly instead of immediately attempting a home run.

THE CHURCH's "The Church" (Capitol)—This Australian quartet's "The Unguarded Moment," the album's opening track, is one of the most invigorating rock singles since U2's "I Will Follow." The first thing you hear is a Byrds-like 12-string guitar passage that opens up to a "Ticket to Ride" riff and Steve Kilbey's vocal, which offers the dramatic, Bowie-meets-Lydon deadpan of the Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler.

Like Butler, Kilbey, who co-wrote "The Unguarded Moment" with Michele Parker, favors abstract lyrics that touch on deeply personal feelings, often battling against the disillusionment or sting of corrupt or decaying relationships: Tell those girls with rifles for minds/Their jokes don't make me laugh/They only make me feel like dying/In an unguarded moment.

Kilbey tends to overwrite at times and the band's influences are sometimes too obvious, but there's a sense of search and struggle in the album's best songs that makes the group—together only two years—worth watching.

This young Australian quartet plays a sprite brand of British new pop that recalls the early days of The Kinks and [The] Who. A ringing guitar sound, Ray Davies-styled vocals and some of the neatest hooks this side of Sydney make this a memorable debut release. One can only hope that they don't get lost in the shuffle with the latest spate of new poppers as the foursome has a lot to offer. A true sleeper.

THE CHURCH—Capitol ST12193.

Produced by Chris Gilbey, Bob Clearmountain.

Utilizing a mesmerizing 12-string guitar sound plus inviting post-punk rhythms, this Australian quartet is one of the most distinctive acts in some time. The Psychedelic Furs and U2 attracted much attention with a similar sound so the Church should meet with a ready response. The highlights are the modern pop of "Too Fast For You" and the cool balladry of "Don't Open The Door To Strangers." This is a natural for college radio, dance clubs and progressive AOR stations.

Best cuts: Those mentioned plus "The Unguarded Moment," "Sisters."

Rock Records
by Neal Hall

THE CHURCH: The Church (Capitol). This three-man/one-woman Australian group makes its highly polished debut. And Judging from the calibre of songwriting and guitar playing, this will be the next big group from Down Under to make it big in North America.

The obvious influences are The Beatles, with shades of The Boomtown Rats, David Bowie and even the Pscychedelic (sic) Furs. But comparisons are a bit unfair: the group is derivative, but then who isn't?

By the next album, the Church will be well on its way to establishing a sound of its own. Until then, the Church will have undoubtedly attracted plenty of devout followers.


NOTE: Yes, that opening sentence really does identify the band as a "three-man/one-woman Australian group". Wonder who Neal Hall thought the woman was?

The Wonder of Wombats

Fosters and acid, or tinnies and tabs, to use the vernacular. If the figment of our home-grown psychedelic revival seems a pain in the paisley, then the thought of a bunch of drippy hippies wearings beads and bush hats with multi-coloured corks dangling from the brim is probably enough to send you running screaming for the shotgun.

But wait! Because this is no case of cheap psychedelic revival bandwagon jumping. Psychedelic revival!? They probably haven't had their first stroll through those strawberry fields Down Under yet. No, somehow The Church magically manage to combine the raw individuality of their Australian background (although only two of the four band members are of true Antipodean origins) with the exotic, atmospheric sound kaleidoscope of much of mid-Sixties American West Coast music in a fresh and exciting way that has totally eluded all the other joss-stick jokers around at the moment.

Because The Church do stand so headband and shoulders above any other cycle dealer I've heard so far, they would probably do well to avoid getting bundled up with the whole vacuous 'movement' at all, but I fear the cut of the Oxfam meets Lord John clothes and the stylised elements in the their music, especially the ringing Byrds-like guitars, echoey, moody vocals and extensive studio trickery (I think there's even a backward tape guitar solo in there somewhere), will well and truly mark them down as flower power poppers whether they like it or not.

Still, turning to the music rather than the image, The Church's own personal workers of miracles are undoubtedly guitarists Peter Koppes and Marty Willson-Piper, whose jangling Roger McGuinn influenced guitar runs like a thread of solid gold throughout this album.

As on the snappy psycho-pop of the opening track, 'For A Moment We're Strangers' with its extravagant rhythmic riffing and 12-string jangle coupled with real acid-head chants and mumbles that ebb and flow in the background like a liquid light-show. Or the albums strongest and most obviously commercial number, 'The Unguarded Moment', boasting a dead-ringer for the Beatles' 'Here Comes The Sun' intro and plenty of techno-textured guitar.

It's this impressive musical flair and breadth of imaginative ideas that sets The Church apart as they stretch and flex their considerable technique to cover both the ginseng song of swirling psychedelia like 'Bel-Air' and 'Tear It All Away' with more varied elements like the rock riff powerdrive of 'Memories In Future Tense' and the far-out-and-out weirdness of the haunting, ethereal 'Is This Where You Live?'

It would be easy to dismiss all this new psychedelia guff as just so much corpse-kicking and fake fashion - I almost did it myself. All I am saying is give this particular piece a chance...

Still one of my favorite albums. Doesn't get much better than this.

THE CHURCH: The Church (Carrere Cal 130)
By Kevin Wilson

Days of the past today revisited. When the New Psychedelia reared its pretty head last year, the Church were still working on their version of it. Two Aussies and two Poms, all convinced the world needed a new version of sixties hedonism.

In truth, this debut album does possess the necessary spirit with a faithful production job being performed by Chris Gilbey and Bob Clearmountain. The mood is soft rock, with jangly guitars, strumming chords and Byrdsy harmonies. Pick of the crop must be 'Is This Where You Live' which starts off in the mystical and ends up in the hysterical. The rest is much the same with perhaps the free 'n' easy 'Bel-Air being the best.

The Church may well be smuggled into the Paisley clan by the back door if they are not careful. The direction they are taking is a dangerous one if they're trying to avoid ridicule.

★★★ (3 stars)