Showing posts with label Steve Kilbey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steve Kilbey. Show all posts

Friday, 10 March 2017

The Church Heyday Tour

These pictures were taken in the US on 25/4/86 at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. I love the 2 I've blown up extra large and this last one.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Heyday - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part V

The Church - Heyday (1985)
Quite the befitting title right here. Cherished among fans of The Church, Heyday's full of great tunes like Already Yesterday, Myrrh, Tristesse, Columbus and the blistering live favourite Tantalized. On Night Of Light and Youth Worshipper they reach Forever Changes levels of sophistication with fabulous horn and string arrangements. The Church made the 80s version of the 60s awesome, hang on that's not really fair is it? Although this is probably their most 60s inspired set, it's those shirts that make you jump the gun to such stupid conclusions. There was a lot of 70s, 80s and future Church idiosyncrasies at play here too......... It was most definitely 80s music though, you know like The Smiths were an 80s band. They may have had influences from other eras but just because it didn't sound like Nik Kershaw doesn't mean it wasn't quintessential 80s music!..... er.....that goes for both bands. Still you can get out your pointy shoes and paisley shirts and relive this classic LP. Funnily enough I had a paisley shirt on today, and straight black jeans but unfortunately I don't own a pair of pointy shoes any longer, I had to just go with me brown suede boots. I'm sure Marty Willson Piper would have been proud of my outfit though as would Steve Kilbey, I reckon.

They were the coolest. No doubt. This makes you wanna roll a joint and enjoy your life.

In the classic tradition of AC/DC, playing on the back of a truck for your film clip. Priceless!

This video is sound and vision perfection, doncha reckon?

*A fucking phenomenal live version of Tantalized here. Talk about kickin out the jams, wow!
**I've written about Heyday before here.
***Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock series is taken from the HIGH CULTure website.

Seance - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part IV

Séance from 1983 is the third Church album and, like their two previous LPs, it's a classic. This time they get Nick Launay to produce. This is a strange combination to be sure and some fans were shocked by the studio affects, particularly the drum sounds, on this recording.  About half of the record is studio trickery, strings and keyboards added to their usual dual guitar interplay. The other half is fairly true to their trippy jangling live sound. Séance is a moody and atmospheric affair. Steve Kilbey travels darker terrain than usual, which is fine because there isn't a bad tune to be found here at all.

*Track 5 Travel By Thought here.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Blurred Crusade - The Church

Tim's Ultra Rough Guide To Rock Part III

The second Church album is where they really hit their stride. Steve Kilbey (singer, songwriter, bass player & slide guitarist) even describes it as ‘an unimaginable leap forward.’ The LP title says it all. It’s a Blurred Crusade. The production here is warm and puts The Church into a lush soft focus. What’s striking listening back to it today is how much keyboard action there is, pianos, harpsichord, hammond and even a Celeste, all played by Kilbey. Nick Ward was replaced by the phenomenal Richard Ploog on drums. Ploog freed up the band to be more spacious and fluid. So began the classic line-up of The Church which continued for the next 8 years. This LP hit the top 10 in 1982 and went double gold in Australia. It opened with the definitive Church song Almost With You, a top forty hit which had a fabulous spanish guitar lead break by Peter Koppes (lead guitar, backing vocals, tubular bells & percussion) very 1982. When You Were Mine was next and what a rocking epic it was. Marty Willson-Piper (electric, acoustic & 12 string guitars) describes it as ‘a snarling beast.’ The guitars here are metallic and driving while the keyboards are eerie and cold. Willson-Piper sings lead vocals on Field Of Mars despite the lyrics being written by Kilbey. This is a wicked haunted trip, complete with the usual jangle, bent lead breaks, otherworldly keyboards and even some bells to top it off. Apparently it’s about a graveyard where a deceased friend of Kilbey’s resides. God that’s just the first three tunes. We’ve got rockin toe tappers (A Fire Burns), almost cosmic country sweetness (Don’t Look Back), sumptuous romantic janglers (To Be In Your Eyes), Hallucinogenic psych outs (An Interlude), mysterious lullabies (Secret Corners) and 12 string workouts (Just For You). Then there’s the all time classic 8 minute epic You Took which contains the lyric that would become the album title and the best way to describe this song. You Took is a band at the peak of their powers resulting in an astonishing display of rock dynamics. While The Church had a few things in common with LA’s Paisley Underground like a love for psychedelia, The Byrds, The Velvets, 12 string guitars etc. they were much more than that. The Church also loved the pop end of prog, recent British music of the time like John Foxx (solo & with Ultravox), Be Bop Deluxe (?), Gary Numan, quite possibly the entire history rock and god knows what else. Most of all The Church were an incredibly distinct unit whose intangible chemistry could never be replicated so their music was always original, never mere pastiche. Glorious.    

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Antipodean Space Debris II

I thought we'd have a little Church trip with some of their most epic tunes through the ages. This is from the first record Of Skins & Heart (1981). I suppose then this is their first epic. I still love a very lot (sic).

I've never seen this video in my life. Anyway this is the biggest epic on their epic laden 2nd LP The Blurred Crusade (1982). Still a live killer to this day.

This is from the 3rd LP Seance (1983) and would be their most experimental tune up to that point in time. Still very fucking cool

Trance Ending was actually a b-side to Columbus a single off Heyday (1985). Great middle eastern trip out. Nice.

One of the great things about The Church was their album opening tracks and this is one of their greatest. You have to keep in mind these guys were on major labels throughout the 80s and they really didn't give a fuck about trends. They had top 40 singles in Australia and America so that was a problem for Indie people but The Church were also doing their own thing alienating them most of the time from the mainstream. They really didn't fit anywhere making them true cult outsiders. They also inspired a legion of groups who were obviously enamoured by their talent and artistic vision not to mention their fashion sense. You could never recreate that unique synergy though and those acolytes must have soon realised being as effortlessly cool as The Church wasn't quite as easy as they made it look. Starfish (1988) was their 5th classic in a row and their most popular and successful LP of their career. It even went gold in the US.

Let's forget about album number 6 shall we, Seve Kilbey's been trying to ever since 1990. Here's another great opening tune this time to their 7th album Priest=Aura from 1992. Kilbey claims this LP to be the true follow up to Starfish. If it had been perhaps they would have been as big as their contemporary The Cure, in The USA at least. America is still their bread and butter though as well as Australia. Having said that they were quite a cult band throughout pockets of Europe during the 80s and remain so to this day. Funnily enough I think after Johnny Marr and Stephen Patrick Morrissey had a meeting and decided to form The Smiths they went out that night to a Church concert. I reckon you can tell Marr must have loved their guitars and was influenced by them. Priest=Aura was probably their last consistently excellent LP until 98's Hologram Of Baal and their recent classic Untitled #23 (2009).

With this opening 1994's Sometime, Anywhere I thought we were in for an absolute killer album. The LP was ok but contained a couple of naff tunes and was perhaps a little long. It did have many other excellent songs though but this is the most memorable one for me. 

Another choice LP opener this time for their 9th album Magician Among The Spirits from 1996. Jesus I've forgotten how good this is, must dig out the cd. Surely this is the only place to you'll hear Jeff Kennett, Ida Lupino and Milli Vanilli mentioned in the same song. I always thought Kilbey said Alan Moulder (the legendary engineer/producer of JAMC, MBV, The Boo Radleys etc.) at the end of this tune but disappointingly the youtube uploader reckons it's Alan Muller* whoever he is? This is a phenomenal trippy spaced out improv (shhh!) psych jam. Steve's answer to Madonna's Vogue, doncha reckon?

*Uh huh, Alan Muller painted this! Great painting of SK. He must have painted the cover for SK's 4th solo LP Remindlessness (1990) as well. Actually looking at them together now it's the same picture just zoomed in, I think, maybe....

More on this classic double LP in a future blog post.

Antipodean Space Debris - A CardrossManiac2 Tangent

Hardly Baked has a few clips here of The Church & The Go-Betweens. Steve Kilbey is not only a brilliant songwriter/musician but he's a massive music fan. He loved The Go-Betweens so much he coerced Grant McLennan into collaborating with him on the Jack Frost project. This was recorded, after The Go-Betweens had broken up, in 89 or 90. Number 11 is the tune that stuck with me most from their debut LP. Anyway see below to see how much of a fanboy SK was and still is of Australian rock.

Of course as pointed out in this speech by a heckling ex manager Kilbey wasn't always a card. He was quite renowned for being a sullen bastard in the 80s. So much so that after Kilbey did a poetry reading in Melbourne one night I refused to get my book of his poetry signed in case he was not particularly nice. I think his drug change up from pot & heroin to uppers has made his true personality come to the fore. He's become an all round entertainer. This is a guy who wouldn't appear on Australia's most popular 80s variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday. Now I reckon he'd love to be part of that show's dodgy repartee. As Julia Zemiro points out, at the end of this crazy off the cuff speech, he really could host his own show. This is the best speech I've ever heard without a doubt and I fucking hate awards shows and speeches in general. It's true gold like many Church albums. He's a national treasure and we are blessed by his continuing fabulousness.

I mean here's some evidence right here. The Church released one of their best songs ever Space Saviour in 2009 like 30 after they started.

Kilbey loved The Triffids too. I once saw The Triffids 5 or 6 years back in Melbourne obviously sans one Dave McComb but they had a bunch of guests taking over vocal duties. The highlight of the show was when Steve Kilbey came out with no guitar, just a mike, in a sleeveless truckers shirt and made four Triffids classics his own. By that I mean 10 times better than the originals. The peak was when he did an incredibly intense version of Field Of Glass, one of the most memorable live rock moments in my life. So incredible this was that my wife wife can't listen to The Triffids anymore because Steve changed those songs forever. Of course he's the coolest guy on the planet so that's totally understandable.

This is the original which was recorded at the BBC in November 84 for a Peel Session.... I think. Overwrought to the max. Weirdly this could almost be a Bad Seeds tune from 1994. The late Dave McComb was a Nick Cave fan and at the same time Mick Harvey was a Triffids fan. Then of course in the 90s The Bad Seeds gained ex-Triffids bass player Martyn P Casey who remains an integral part of that band to this day.

To complete the circle here we've got the late Grant McLennan introducing The Triffids Raining Pleasure on Rage circa 1999. Which was kinda weird as we were led to believe that The Triffids and The Go-Betweens were arch enemies in the 80s. That was probably a media beat up but a good story none the less Now this tune is evocative of Antipodean space.

So many classic Forster lines in this one - " it's not my cup of thrills"

Spring Hill Fair is definitely The Go-Betweens LP I've played the most and is my favourite, I don't get why it isn't everybody else's. I mean the first four Go-Betweens LPs (Send Me A Lullaby, Before Hollywood, Spring Hill Fair and Liberty Belle And The Black diamond Express) are pure fucking gold aren't they? While the last 2 (in their original 80s stint) Tallulah & 16 Lover Lane are quite patchy and in 16 Lovers Lane's case way overrated. I mean it got it's own episode on *Australian Classic Albums??
*Perhaps more on that absurd and problematic show another time.

I remember hearing an interview with drummer Lindy Morrison who was Robert Forster's romantic partner up to this point in time. Anyway when she first heard this tune she knew it was his way of saying goodbye to their relationship. Only Forster could be hilarious, scathing and so fucking poignant at the same time. What a bittersweet song if there ever was one. 

All of this is reminiscent of my brother and I sitting around listening this record and the joy it brought us. Of course Forster was a funny bastard with great comic delivery. He was just as funny when he was serious as well. Forster was also a sterling songwriter. Then there was Grant who we thought was funny too but for different reasons. He seemed a little too earnest, over confident, serious and very uncool. There was no denying Grant's gift for songwriting though. The juxtaposition between these two personalities was strange and sort of comic as well. I guess they complimented each other though. Later on in my life I met them both and they were absolute gentlemen as you would imagine.

Monday, 29 September 2014

New Ariel Pink

Just noticed this was released. It's taken from his new album Pom Pom. Sounds like The Byrds or an 80s jingle jangle facsimile. Not sure if that's a good thing or not yet. Slightly reminiscent of The Church at their 80s best, musically anyway.  Both Ariel Pink and Steve Kilbey are complete vocal and wordsmith talents incomparable to anyone really.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


So the advertisement for the new season of RocKwiz is all about staying in. This reminded me of that aforementioned article by Paul Morley on The Stones at Glastonbury. RocKwiz is a fantastic show. There are 2 teams in a panel of 3.  In each panel is a famous/semi-famous/working musician and two rock nerds picked from their audience due to their knowledge of rock trivia. At the opening of the show each of the musicians play one of their usually well known trax. A quiz then ensues with rock questions, some easy & some quite hard. At the closing of the show the two artists always do some kind of duet. The duet is usually terrific or total shite. This is all hosted by the charismatic and sometimes goofy Julia Zemiro with Brian Nankervis as the side-kick/adjudicator. The emphasis is definitely on rock, meaning trivia from the 60s, 70s, 80s and only sometimes from more recent times.

Julia Zemiro and at the back the fantastic RocKwiz Orchestra.

This most recent ad tells us to stay in on Saturday Nite to avoid the hipster zombie apocalypse. This is like the opposite idea of Rock n Roll. That being going out, drinking, taking drugs, being hip, prowling for promiscuous sex, lookin for kicks, pushin the boundaries etc. Now rock is in its old aged home where you stay in and avoid those young people and their silly hair. Sit back with a cup of tea and a biscuit and watch the telly. RocKwiz will give you a little trip down memory lane which will be nice. You might even like one of those nice new young artists. Then it's off to beddy byes nice and early.

Don't get me wrong I love the show. Some of my all time favourite artists have taken part - Ed Kuepper, Steve Kilbey (The Church), Mick Harvey, Hugo Race, Gareth Liddiard (The Drones), Steve Lucas (X), Chris Bailey (The Saints), Kim Salmon (The Scientists), Adrian Belew, Ron Peno (Died Pretty), Jim Keays (The Masters Apprentices), Russell Morris etc. They've even had some international rock royalty like Betty Harris, Suzi Quatro, Wanda Jackson, Judy Collins, Mary Wilson and the list goes on. There was even a memorable episode featuring the charming Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet who turned out to be a right card and was in fine voice!?

The funny thing is it's filmed in one of Melbourne's most famous and long standing rock venues The Esplanade Hotel. According to the ad this is the type of place you are supposed to be avoiding as there may be funny haired, weirdly dressed, drunk and pilled up young folk. The ad I guess is tongue in cheek but that's a moot point as you can't really be among such unwashed folk on Saturday nite otherwise you'll miss the show.

Once at an Australian Rules Football match I ran into an old musician friend. He was in the company of someone who may or may not have been in the Australian underground supergroup The Beasts Of Bourbon. After already having had a few lemonades I asked their posse to join me in kicking on at the pub across the road from the MCG only to be told 'Thanks but nah. We're going home to watch RocKwiz.'

Rock & Roll!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Church - Heyday

It was the Heyday for those shirts.

So this is the fourth Church LP, which also means it was their fourth classic in a row. What a winning streak they had going in the 80s. Heyday was then followed up with Starfish another classic. The winning streak was then interrupted by the follow up to Starfish. Anyway I'm talking about Heyday because of those recent Scott Walker posts. It is an impeccably produced record with great songs and arrangements. It was Scott walker's main man Peter Walsh at the desk. This is the sound of 80s Australia in the best possible sense. I could bang on about the coolest sounding lyrics ever, the dual guitar interplay of Koppes and Wilson-Piper and the wonderfully intuitive drumming of Ploog. Also saying Ploog is great. Richard Ploog the coolest rock drummer ever! Anyway you've probably heard all that before what I want to highlight is the production and arrangements and how well Walsh and the Church got it so so right.

Night of Light
The strings and horns are arranged here by both Steve Kilbey and Peter Walsh. Can you believe this wasn't even a single. Incredible arrangements, so mesmerising up there with the strings and horns on Forever Changes.

Youth Worshipper
Horns and strings by SK alone this time. Some really weird and unexpected changes in this track. It starts off all nice and jangley then goes down some strange paths. Those horns are so fucking cool the whole thing still amazes me to this day. A high water mark in a career already filled with peaks. These are two of my favourite tunes from this classic album. I wonder why The Church never worked with Peter Walsh again? It's not like the results weren't outstanding or anything.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Posting Youtube Clips Is My Rage

I know I use the youtubes a little bit too much. Growing up as a kid in Australia though it has always been a dream (along with thousands of others I suspect) to one day programme Rage. Rage is an all night Music show on the ABC on Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday night they have a guest programmer for the first 3 or 4 hours. Name any Australian band/artist or any international touring artist and chances are they've probably been a guest. The most memorable for me being Steve Kilbey in like 1992, Johnathon Donahue in the the late 90s, Michael Hutchence had a go and more recently filmmaker Richard Lowenstein was a fabulous guest. I've missed hundreds and probably some of them were probably my favourite bands/artists. Anyway I'm just playing Rage fantasy guest host a lot of the time.

*NOTE: Probably best not to play The Birthday Party's Nick The Stripper or Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division as they get played every week. There's probably plenty of guest bits up on Youtube.


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Miserable/Funny Songwriters

I was going to bang on about New Zealand music and why the 80s to about 91-92 were a golden era etc. and not just the popular Flying Nun bands but the weirder ones plus xpressway etc.  Another time perhaps or maybe look elsewhere on the net for such information.  I remember a pretty good article on Flying Nun at the Stylus Website. There is also a good doco on the youtubes about Flying Nun RecordsPopwatch fanzine once had a terrific piece on the xpressway label. 

I was thinkin' about funny singers and songwriters.  It used to be, people would say 'Nick Cave was a bit dour.' and not see the funny side in the 80s into 90s, but now he's almost a fully fledged comedian so people are comin' round to the idea.  There also used to be "How can you listen to The Smiths? They just moan!" Of course as soon as anyone said this you knew that they hadn't truly listened to the band.  Morrissey was fucking hilarious!  Those Smiths albums still make me laugh.  Leonard Cohen too, what a laugh he was. Then there was the more obvious funny dudes like Robert Forster, Mark E Smith and Dave Graney. As well as hardcore like Flipper and Angry Samoans.

I had another category as well where it all seemed so serious surely they were havin' a laugh.  Maybe they were, maybe they weren't.  It didn't matter to me I thought they were a laugh a minute.  First example being Swans.  The darkness, the impotence, the serious delivery, the sickness etc. what a hoot!  Michael Gira possibly the funniest man on the planet.  Jarboe a bit funny too.  Joy Division were funny.  Add in Ian Curtis's dancing you got yourself a good time.  Primitive Calculators were great fun to me and my little sister when I was in my early teens.  Still one of the good time bands for me.  It turns out in recent interviews that indeed they had great senses of humour.  Einsturzende Neubauten with their crumbling architecture, wanting the world to end, the harshness, the screaming the mental illness etc. all good comedy fare.  Liabach, pretty funny as well.  Rollins too but I had to love the music as well so I don't know if he counts.

Funny songwriter or just a funny guy?

Anyway the whole reason I was thinkin' about this was because I was listening to The Drones for the first time in years and wondering where Gareth Liddiard fitted into this.  Sure on the telly he's a funny guy (RockQuiz a couple of times) but do I find his songs funny? I'm still not sure.  Steve Kilbey a recently hilarious dude was something nobody saw coming, well not from The Church's music anyway.  He might have always been a private card but I like the idea of him flowering late with his comedic prowess.  Gettin' loose in his old age.

Maybe all of this says more about me than anything else. Who knows?  Any thoughts out there ?

**That's a great painting of Gareth Liddiard (from The Drones)  from last years Archibald Prize Exhibition, which I managed to catch in The Yarra Valley.  That painting was also one of the strongest in the competition.