Sing-Songs (EP)
by The Church


THE CHURCH: Sing-Songs (EMI)
DO RE MI: The Waiting Room (EMI)
HUNTERS & COLLECTORS: Payload (Festival)

Here's a batch of records that sums up the long, the tall and the short of the left-of-centre music scene currently making records for mass consumption in Oz. Another common factor is the fact that they're all maxi-EP's of the 12 inch variety, an increasingly popular format for price-conscious record companies to adopt.

The Church earn their place here by virtue of an obvious desire not to let themselves fall into the rut of churning out simple repeats of the sounds that made them popular in the first place. Not that the music of Sing-Songs is particularly different to their now recognisable style. No, we have no revolution, but we do have a lot of genuine attempts to add new arrangement and production ideas to an otherwise comfortable sound.

It has its price — the band's production (Bob Clearmountain only worked on the Simon & Garfunkel cover "I Am A Rock") doesn't always carry the classy sounds that helped kick earlier records into prominence. The payoff, on the other hand, — lies in the novel ideas that every now and then add an unbalancing effect without which The Church would end up monotonous and two-dimensional. Some say they already are — I don't.

Kilbey's songs are up to par, his vocals are resonant as ever, sweeping across the music rather than punctuating it. Backing vocals are often used to accentuate the atmosphere of the songs at times very effectively. "I Am A Rock" is an interesting diversion that suggests that Kilbey himself could perhaps once in a while lower his guard and write from the hip rather than from the head.

THE CHURCH: Sing-Songs EP (Carrere)

If this music—pitted of the blemishes which characterise a proper life—has to be made, I would rather it came from the deep well of electric tones that The Church propose than the tinfoil surface of the electropop munchkins. Although Steven Kilbey's four songs tamper unwisely with a dossier of creaking images—avenging angels and cold electric lights—they have an unusual sonic grip, a quality of reflection that leads to a regeneration markedly different from the usual agony in the mirror. The sound of 'In The Room' [sic] and 'A Different Man' is the substance, and whatever the artistic motive (the concluding cover of 'I Am A Rock' gives me some doubts here) this lucid guitar ripple is one to lick on.

THE CHURCH: 'Sing-Song EP' (Carrere Records).

From an Oz band who set themselves high standards this does nothing to discredit their credibility. Tom Petty fans, check this out.

Sing-Songs, The Church (EMI)

Here we have five new songs recorded by The Church before they departed for their first European tour. There's four from Steve Kilbey and a cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic "I Am A Rock". Nothing on Sing-Songs breaks any new ground for The Church but who cares? They're masters of the perfectly crafted, melodic, lyrically obscure, psychedelic pop rock'n'roll format that flourished in the mid-60s. My favourite on this EP is the moody, atmospheric "The Night Is Very Soft". The cover of "I Am A Rock" is a pleasant, up-tempo rendition but lacks the emotion of the original. Sing-Songs is an enjoyable "hello" from The Church until they release their third album. Can't wait myself.

Stuart Coupe

The Church
Sing Songs (Mini album)

First of all, I want to warn all of you up the back that this term there will be no sniggering about the Byrds, Roger McGuinn's 12-string, or paisley shirts when we mention the Church. These sort of impure thoughts can lead to beastliness and fits of hysterical laughter, besides being a shocking example for the lower forms who are too young to remember Turn! Turn! Turn!

Now, some of you may be wondering why a truly cheesy rendition of I Am A Rock, the maudlin and mouldering Simon & Garfunkel hit, has been included - especially as this is a mini-album with only five tracks. Has Mr Kilbey's muse departed? Did they have to make up the numbers with this stale leftover from last year's sessions with producer Bob Clearmountain?

'I have my books / And my poetry to protect me'...Perhaps Kilbey sympathises with Paul Simon's solution to failed relationships. The man certainly does love his poetry; the three songs that involve other people are not very happy, and the other one, A Different Man, presents an endless cycle of introspection...Your first essay topic is STEVE KILBEY and the UNDERGRADUATE COFFEE HOUSE POET TRADITION.

The music is the next matter. Here our task is to decide a) whether any developments have been made on the Blurred Crusade, and b) can we cop it in general? Immediate differences: the new material is slower paced, less buoyant than hits like Almost With You and When Your Were Mine; the preference for doleful minor key melodies is even more pronounced; and the instruments do less and are less prominently mixed, while the vocal choruses and counterparts have increased. Personally, I much preferred the bigger guitars and punchier rhythm section of Blurred Crusade, but don't let this influence your evaluation. The second essay title is CHURCH MUSIC: inherent Contradictions Of The Tinkling Dirge.

Finally, before you pick up your pens, I urge you to remember that this is serious and sensitive music, and that lots of serious and sensitive people the world over - well, one or two countries anyway - are buying it. Do not approach it with any misguided levity or a puerile desire for fun.

Dr G. Taylor, Ph.D., D.D., LL.B., Diploman (Hons) Good Housekeeping

Arguably their best early work. Ancient History is particularly interesting. This E.P. could be seen as the point where the "jingle-jangle"-Church meets "electronic"-Church. On this occasion they get the blend right. Not so on Remote Luxury and Persia.