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25 years on: The Church “Starfish” appreciation thread / song-by-song review

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by 1970, Mar 1, 2013.

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  1. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    I saw them on that tour too. They opened for the Bunnymen at Georgetown University in Washington DC. The only downside was the house PA mix, which was really flat but miraculously 'recovered' in time for the Bunnymen's set...
     
  2. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA

    100th POST!

    I present to you the V.G.S. (Virtual Gilded Starfish) Award:

    [​IMG]

    Thanks to you and the very few others who are contributing to this thread and have kept it alive.


    :shtiphat:

    .
     
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  3. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    LOL! I do like numerology, when it works in my favor!

    Just finished playing my 192/24 transfer of the German Arista CD of Starfish before I noticed this. Even on 44.1/16, it's such a great sounding album. Love all the background info this thread has!
     
    1970 likes this.
  4. DrAftershave

    DrAftershave A Wizard, A True Star

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I love "Reptile". I lived in Minneapolis at the time when Starfish came out and was surprised to find out that they shot the video for it there on tour at the Guthrie Theater. I've been to that venue a billion times from when I was a small child to my late twenties, so you can imagine my reaction when I saw the video the first time on MTV in 1988 and went, "wait a minute!".
     
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  5. MarkTheShark

    MarkTheShark Forum Resident

    I haven't read through this whole thread (yet), but I was a college radio DJ when this album came out and we played both "Under The Milky Way" and "Reptile" (which reminded me very much of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" at the time)! I remember at one point we had a 12" single (yes, we were still using vinyl and carts back then, and if anyone wanted to play something from a CD they'd have to patch it into the board) of "Under The Milky Way" which had an alternate acoustic version on it. I remember really liking that version of the song, maybe even preferring it to the "regular" version. I haven't really looked into whether that's available today, mayber as a bonus tracki somewhere?
     
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  6. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    The acoustic version of "Under The Milky Way" can be most easily found these days on the bonus disc with the 2010 Second Motion "Starfish" reissue CD. Thanks for posting.

    .
     
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  7. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    WEll done Louis - great thread and I've really enjoyed it. In fact, I will be sad to see it end. Should we carry on the bonus disc that came with the remasters (it included b-sides and whatnot, most of which were also on A Quick Smoke at Spot's). Or, even better, anyone up for a Church album-by-album thread???
     
  8. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    Yes, let's get into the bonus tracks too!
     
  9. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA

    Thanks again, and yes - I have thought about continuing on with the bonus tracks if there is enough interest. The awesome "Texas Moon" is enough to make me want to go there. :)

    And the album-by-album thread is something we really should do as well. Even if there are likely only a few of us that will hold that entire conversation!

    Thanks for all of your great posts.



    Ps. I have "A New Season" almost ready...

    .
     
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  10. MarkTheShark

    MarkTheShark Forum Resident

    Thanks for the info! I looked on Amazon and saw this version alongside (what appeared to be) the original CD issue of the album (?) Can anyone chime in regarding the sound i.e. is the remaster brickwalled, etc.?

    It's only from hanging around here that I even think about stuff like that, or even know what it is...
     
  11. Sadly the mastering sucks on the reissue in my opinion. I kept it only for the tracks I didn't have.
     
  12. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA

    Wayne's assessment would be an accurate in my opinion. The remasterings for the 2010 Second Motion reissues are the same as the 2002 EMI remasterings. Not great. Best sounding Starfish CD that I have heard is still the original Arista.

    So Mark, if you'd rather have the original mastering of the 1988 acoustic "Under The Milky Way" on CD, you'll have to find the "Sum Of The Parts" promo CD (which is fairly scarce), or the "Destination" CD3, which can be found much easier.

    See:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~thechurch/other-media/interviews/sum-of-the-parts.html
    http://home.earthlink.net/~thechurch/singles/destination.html

    .
     
  13. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
  14. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    9. “A New Season”


    I’ll start out by saying that I appreciate the transcendent qualities of this outstanding track. It has a splendor all its own, and it inspirits me every time I hear it.

    In much of my reading to prepare for this thread, idyllic was an adjective that kept coming up to describe Peter Koppes’ “A New Season.” In one interview, Koppes offered his take on his own song as a “Utopian idea with symbols.” ³ Both characterizations are fitting, but I’ll take it a step further and suggest that a close encounter with this track through headphones could feel quite like being led through some resplendent passageway during an unconstrained episode of dimensional travel. Something divine, startling, extraordinary is being heralded here. It is up to the individual listener to decide what that might be.

    But just as in a fleeting dream, you’re not allowed to stay there long.

    “It seems to finish before it all starts,” wrote Marty Willson-Piper. Indeed, at just under three minutes, “A New Season” is the shortest song on Starfish. Peter Koppes, The Church’s resident technician (and the one quietly responsible many of the band’s song arrangements over the years), has expressed his passion for orchestrating music. Yet he comes perilously close to outdoing even himself here.

    The blueprint for most of this piece is a simple sketch of linear progression. Recurring, interwoven themes finally arrive in the form of a beautifully arranged outro. Once again, the lush guitar work on Starfish is the medium for rich counterpoint: swirling arpeggios, tremolo accents throughout, some nice slide flourishes at the end. MWP’s brief solo —a sharp, minimalistic attack that resolves into cavernous echo — hits the spot. All the while, the song’s torrid yet collected forward motion is skillfully driven by a highly imaginative Richard Ploog drum performance.

    Complementary to “A New Season’s” exquisitely unconventional arrangement is Koppes’ laid back, double tracked voice. The fact that Peter Koppes was allowed only one hour of recording time to lay down these vocals is simply a testament to his self-possessed nature. This is grace under fire. Steve Kilbey gives the able assist at the bridge.

    In closing, the excellent track sequencing of Starfish must be extolled once again. After the intensity of “Reptile,” “A New Season” changes Starfish’s course without diminishing any of the album’s impact or momentum. Here we have both an intelligent platform, and insightful flow of continuity, to the album’s grand finale: “Hotel Womb.”

    ****

    Next up: “Hotel Womb”



    ****

    ¹ Gavin Report: The Church: Sum of the Parts promo, Arista Records, 1988 (transcription)

    ² Kilbey, Steve: Mushroom Records Starfish press release, 1988

    ³ Zuel, Bernard: “Wishing On A Star: The Church Suffer Under the Bad Karma of L.A., Find Communion with Each Other, and Deliver a Hit Album,” Rolling Stone Australia: Issue 419, June 1988

    Willson-Piper, Marty: liner notes, The Church Starfish CD, 2011, Second Motion Records

    Bradberry, Brad: Keeping the Faith: The Solo Pursuits of the Members of The Church, Options Magazine, c. 1988

    Lurie, Robert Dean: No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church: A Biography,Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.220

    .
     
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  15. Twangy

    Twangy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA, USA
    I remember hunting and finding the Euro version at the time that had the bonus 12" of 5 songs and REALLY feeling like not many US folks had heard those, of which "Perfect Child" i thought was the most polished and atmospheric....and "Nosedive" first appeared on a promo cassette from Arista and i dug that song as well....great stuff!
     
  16. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    Lots to like in this tune. I agree that the guitar solo is stellar and I really like Peter's melody, lyrics and singing here. It's also an interesting song structure. I've never quite gotten 100% behind Steve's sung part on the bridge, though....
     
  17. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    It's about as close to rap as the Church will ever get. I like it because Steve's cadence immediately triggers my memory of the rest of the song in my mind's jukebox.
     
  18. Efus

    Efus Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Starfish started to lose some steam here with me at this point, and I don't think its necessarily the band's fault (though it maybe).
    To be honest, I think with "A New Season", theres a great song in there somewhere, but frankly I think it was overproduced by Wachtel. (if it was his call)
    As noted, its got a fantastic melody, good lyrics, arpeggio/tremolo/slide guitar parts, and a nice undercurrent on the drums that drive everything, but its just too polished, imo.

    It's interesting to note in Louis' post that Koppes only had an hour to lay down this vocal which was then double tracked.
    Here's a live version of the tune, that I think is much stronger, why? simply because its drier, and less polished than what happened on record.
    While I think Koppes' vocal isn't especially strong live, I really like they way that he sounds with Kilbey singing with him.
    Maybe that was the way to go instead of the double track vocal that's on the record.

     
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  19. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    I've stated before that I strongly prefer Steve Kilbey to sing Church songs, but I must admit I do like this tune
     
  20. bonjo

    bonjo Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    How can it lose steam when the best song comes at the end?
     
  21. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Starfish recording sessions, Los Angeles, 1987
    [​IMG]

    Photo credit: Robert Matheu / ©2005 EMI Music Australia Pty Ltd.

    .
     
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  22. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    The Church, Los Angeles, 1987
    [​IMG]
    Photo credit: Robert Matheu / ©2005 EMI Music Australia Pty Ltd.
    .​
     
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  23. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    Goddamn GEMA even blocks this video!!!
     
  24. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    Wow, that Moshcam stream on YouTube has the entire 3 album show available in great quality! (sorry Germany)
     
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