Straw Clutcher

15 11 2012

I would just like to start by apologising about not being able to post pictures in last week’s Matchbox Twenty post. It’s at this point that I would make an excuse like ‘maybe WordPress and my camera aren’t compatible’, but it was the same camera taken to Icehouse, and it worked fine then. I really should look at getting a new camera though.

Anyway, I’m clutching at straws for this week’s post, as nothing overly interesting has happened in the news this week. A lot important has happened, but not much interesting. Politicians bought cars at $10,000 under RRP, politicians buy land for x many dollars conveniently ‘not realising’ that it was actually worth so many times x, and a bloke called $BW signs a deal worth $800,000 and wants to be the face of the NRL (disgraceful – ed.).

I won’t be talking about any of that, but instead about something that I have rambled on about so much in the past, and something that I have given ‘mini-lectures’ on in the past few weeks. That’s right, I will be talking about The Church, how much and why I like them (but only because I don’t think I’ve done it here before).

My first taste of things to come

Well, let’s start at the beginning (seems logical – ed.). If anybody ever asks why I like them so much, I have two stories; the first being that I listened to Hindsight (a compilation of theirs with 24 songs from between ’81 and ’87) and never grew sick of it. Eventually I decided to buy an actual album, and the rest, as they say, is history. The second story (and the one that is the true story) is not too different from the first.

The second story takes us all the way back to the end of 2010 (you say that as if it was a long time ago – ed.). I had just finished high school and life was rosy. Then all hell broke loose, basically. I missed out on making it to uni, friends turned on me and to add salt to the wounds, my pop passed away on Christmas eve (and some of my ‘friends’ didn’t believe me). Hardest 2-3 weeks of my life. In this time though, I escaped through music, and it was predominantly The Church I listened to. I did listen to other stuff, but on the whole it was Steve and the gang.

When it came time for my birthday, I thought, bugger it, I’ll go and buy an album. I bought two though, and as is logical, I got the first two; they being “Of Skins and Heart” and “The Blurred Crusade”. If I’m honest, it took me a while to take to OSAH, probably because it was slightly harder edged than Hindsight, but TBC; loved it from the outset. I really liked the concept of the cover art, which was four Knights, each representative of a band member, standing around looking at a brightly coloured bird. I did see an early concept for the cover though, that was each member (as themselves) standing around an empty bird cage.

The Blurred Crusade (’82)

These first two albums took their names from a line of a song contained on each, OSAH came from the song “For A Moment We’re Strangers” and TBC from “You Took”. “You Took” has a funny story for me though, I liked the idea of have just the bass line for a few bars to  open the song, but as for the rest of it, I didn’t like it, but now I love it (that might be due to a bit of bias and favouritism though – ed.).

Going shopping at JB though led me to believe that the band had only ever released 5 albums because they only ever stocked OSAH, TBC, Seance, Starfish and Untitled #23. I thought to myself though, if they’re all in the same type of vein, I’m going to really like them.

Anyway, it was nearing the time that they bought their ‘Future, Past, Perfect’ tour to Waves. I thought that this was going to be awesome, and it was. They performed 34 songs that night and the ticket was $34. This is before you take into consideration that some songs lasted 9 minutes; and the fact that I got to meet Marty Willson-Piper after the show at no extra cost, but my time; and when I say meet, I mean for a good 20 minutes, at least. About the only problem though, was that I only knew one of those songs, “Under the Milky Way”, as I didn’t own any of the albums they performed that night yet.

Haha, it says ‘love’ – ed.

But at the merchandise stall before the show, there were all these other albums and EPs I’d never seen before. So I got a bit carried away. Some of the albums that I bought was later described by Marty as being ‘the bent stuff’. I had read about some of their material, but not as much as this, so I was a bit like a kid in a candy store, and chose everything, on how powerful I found the cover image to be, which is why my favourite album of theirs is Back With Two Beasts.

Back With Two Beasts (’05)

But one of the real reasons I like The Church is that they refuse to go away (in a good sense). They last had a major hit in 1988, but have since released more than 10 albums, and more then they lead on, EPs (of which I have most). So, they really are in the business for passion and love of the job. But the other reason that I like them is that they are so versatile. Steve does the bulk of the singing, but Marty does lead vocals every now and then, as does Peter Koppes. How many other bands have more than one lead singer, and I don’t just mean for one song. Kyle Cook sung for Matchbox Twenty last week, but that was the first, and thus far, only song that he has taken the reins, and it took five albums. Marty had lead vocals on TBC when he sung “Field of Mars”. Iva Davis has been the only constant in Icehouse, so only one lead vocalist there. I know there for a while Pink Floyd had two singers happening, but not many others spring to mind, but if there are, feel free to leave a comment and make me eat my words.

The Church has evolved and changed, their 3 decades of existence all sound different. Listen to Starfish for example, then listen to Forget Yourself, and tell me which is from the ‘80s. They also cover all the different moods and emotions that you could possibly feel. They released a song called ‘Paradox’ in ’92, and it’s amazing the number of ‘friends’ that I can apply this song to. Actually, come to think of it, that whole album, Priest=Aura, has a bunch of stinging lines that could be used against others if you’re in a crap mood.

The book that cost $3.13 per page (including blank pages) – ed.

If you have read this far, you might think that I am a diehard (especially given I recently paid $250 for a book of poetry by Steve); but no, I am not, as a diehard would like, if not love, everything that the band ever released, and I don’t. This song, for example, I hate it; and if I never heard it again I wouldn’t lose a wink of sleep.  In fact, if it weren’t for ‘My Little Problem’, that whole album, Sometime Anywhere, is shit, in my opinion anyway.

Sometime Anywhere (’94)

Also, they have cover heaps of different types of albums. Just the other day, I was thinking to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be awesome if they did an album of just instrumentals?’ I then realised that in a way, they already have. In ’98 they did an album called ‘Bastard Universe’ which was a 70 jam session, and in ’03 they did another called ‘Jammed’. But they have also done acoustic reimagining’s of their earlier work in El Momento Descuidado (which is Spanish for ‘The Unguarded Moment’) and El Momento Siguiente (Spanish for ‘The Following Moment’). ‘Shriek’ was a soundtrack to the book (no that’s not a typo, as weird as it sounds – ed.) of the same title written by Jeff Vander Meer. Given I haven’t read the book; it’s a very strange album to listen to. In ’99 they even released an album of covers, A Box of Birds, to show off their inspirations. This is another reason why I’m not a die hard, because “Silver Machine” (of which there is no YouTube clip) is crap with a capital C.

So there are some of the many reasons that I like The Church so much. At this point I should admit to the title of this post being inspired by one of their songs, “Youth Worshipper”. Sing ‘Straw Clutcher’ instead (not as catchy is it? – ed.)

PS- Not all the reviews of albums were available with extensive opinions and ratings hence why some have no hyper-link




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