Twenty-five years ago this month, Starfish, the milestone album by The Church, was released. This anniversary also marks 25 years since a new legion of dyed-in-the-wool Church followers, many among a wider North American audience, discovered the seminal Australian band. The alluring strains of the unexpected hit “Under The Milky Way,” shimmering from both commercial and college radio, ushered in the beginning of what would become the band’s most prodigious, and subsequently tumultuous, era. After issuing four full-length albums, three EPs, fourteen singles and a compilation album on five different record labels, The Church, already with six years of ups and downs under their belt, found themselves not only facing a familiar uncertain future but were, for the first time, without a recording contract. Ironically, the band had reached this juncture in spite of the recent, respectable success of their 1985 album Heyday, which had also featured a rare American release. Following intensive negotiations with several interested labels, The Church worked out a new worldwide record deal with Arista Records (with distribution through Mushroom Records for the Australian market), in 1987. At the behest of Arista, The Church would not cut tracks for their next album in Sydney, but instead would journey to Los Angeles to record with producers Greg Ladanyi and Waddy Wachtel. This artist-producer pairing, while a seemingly incongruous association, was an intriguing prospect for all concerned… if they could make it work. Almost by self-fulfilling prophecy, this arrangement quickly imploded into a fractious working relationship. But regardless of (and, by contrast, because of) the discord, a month of rigorous pre-production work realized some very strong material, and the ensuing recording sessions achieved one of the tightest, most formidable collections of songs The Church have ever offered. As a result, Starfish arguably remains The Church’s most pivotal album in their 32 year history, still venerated to this day by the press and music fans alike. We know that in the wake of Starfish’s success, history records a rocky aftermath for The Church. “No Certainty Attached,” as their 1998 song goes… yet the real story is that the band has endured on its own terms. But 25 years ago there was this brief shining moment, known as 1988 — a watershed year for The Church. Let’s take this opportunity to reflect back and discuss Starfish, and while we’re at it, we’ll do a song-by-song review. **** THE FINE PRINT: Let’s keep this a dedicated Starfish appreciation thread. If either Starfish or The Church are not to your liking, or if you think The Church have made better albums, that’s perfectly fine, but please post that elsewhere, such as in the rich, ongoing Church “Congregation Thread,” right here. Thanks for respecting this. **** Side One “Destination” “Under The Milky Way” “Blood Money” “Lost” “North, South, East and West” Side Two “Spark” “Antenna” “Reptile” “A New Season” “Hotel Womb” **** Sources: Fulmer, Mike (Publ.): The Church Discography Kilbey, Steve: “sel-fish,” The Time Being, December 1, 2006. Lurie, Robert Dean: No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church: A Biography, Verse Chorus Press, 2009, pp. 161-187 Smith, Brian (Ed.): Shadow Cabinet, various 1988 articles compiled You Tube: The Church – Starfish Radio Interviews – 1988 .