4 tracks performed by The Church have been recommended. Order by -
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That the Church's initial breakthrough song would yet become a millstone around its neck might not have been clear at the time, but one understands pretty easily why the band was anxious to escape its shadow after subsequent efforts clearly showed the tune as the building block it was. But "The Unguarded Moment" isn't a disaster at all - indeed, for a young band to come up with such a great effort early on and get some airplay and attention for it was as clear a sign as any that something really special could yet result. Marty Willson-Piper's flat out lovely introductory guitar and the sinewy blend of his and Peter Koppes' instrument on the main melody sets the tone, while the stripped down verses and quiet rhythm changes throughout give a great taste of the band's incipient ambitions and tweaking of an established formula. Steve Kilbey's quietly rueful but still clear and strong lead vocal adds a nice air of calm melancholia, while coming up with some fun lyrical images here and there ("Tell those friends with cameras for eyes…").
The lead single from one of the Church's all time highs, the dark, powerful Priest Aura, "Ripple" was much like the album it came from - lengthy, with an emphasis on artistic impact rather than radio-friendly ease, charged with a feeling of impending, unnerving threat. The initial guitar chime and Steve Kilbey's singing may provide a familiar feeling for long-time listeners, but the edge of spite and conflict in the words carries through in the performance - Kilbey's not so much blending into the mix as suddenly slicing through it. The full arrangement almost has a touch of film noir threat to it, but not as much as the amazing chorus. Starting with a soft, almost sighed overdubbed vocal part like a mysterious signal, it literally does ripple up in the mix, sneaking up on the listener instead of turning into any kind of a singalong. It's the same approach as with "Under the Milky Way," but the air here is less elegant melancholia and more unsettling electric charge, extra guitar feedback carving arcs through the arrangement, instrumental breaks providing only short, temporary relief.
Following shortly on the heels of Of Skins and Heart, "Tear It All Away" still was the picture of a developing band, but one already more comfortable with the studio, able to use subtlety and quiet drama to inform its cool, soothing yet tense take on post-punk filtered through psychedelic touches. The familiar Byrds-derived guitar and Bowie-tinged lyrical regret and sighing crop up as they so often would in the earliest days, but there's a clean, blue tinge to the whole performance, something that feels inexpressively like an eighties recording rather than a sixties throwback. Call it the space in the mix, the gentle keyboards here and there, or the substituting of folk and country roots for something more urban and faster-paced. The lovely mid-song solos show the Marty Willson-Piper/ Peter Koppes team still well within its element, and the whole composition has a rich, lush feeling to it that's most attractive.