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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'm very surprised at all the padding behind Mr. Ploog and his drum kit. Because the drum sound is very strong, live and reverb-y, which is not what you would expect from such a dampened setup.
     
  2. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    Just scored Starfish on German vinyl. Once I de-clicked the needledrop, the results were jaw-dropping.

    I have had this album in all 3 formats, but the vinyl is simply amazing - total 3-D sound,even through my Senn HD 600s.

    "Blood Money" blows me away now, and "Milky Way" is not far behind.
     
    JeffMo and 1970 like this.
  3. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    These photos don't look much like a recording studio to me. I wonder if these are from the pre-production rehearsals instead.
     
  4. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    That would make more sense.
     
  5. Stuart S

    Stuart S Back Jack

    Location:
    lv
    Pipers liner notes is worth the price of the re-issue alone, and the bonus tracks are the cherry on top.
    The 5 dollar original CD is the one I listen to most often.
    Which works out fine since its in a jewel case and easier to get to.
    On the re-issue - I put disk 2 with the liner notes in the front cover jacket, and disk 1 in the back cover jacket.
     
    1970 likes this.
  6. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA

    I have the version with the bonus 12", still sealed. You've piqued my interest enough to finally open it and give it a spin. I assume it's the same mastering as yours.

    .
     
  7. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    My sentiments exactly, as earlier in the thread. Agree totally, and I just picked up the remaining four Second Motion reissues that I didn't have (Of Skins And Heart, The Blurred Crusade, Seance and Heyday) and the same as with Starfish: they contain extensive liner notes from Marty Willson-Piper, nearly filling up the entire CD booklet. Originally, I wasn't going to break down and buy any of these reissues, but now I am glad I did.

    .
     
  8. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    What's on the bonus disc?
     
  9. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA

    Side 1:
    Anna Miranda
    Musk
    Perfect Child

    Side 2:
    Frozen And Distant
    Texas Moon


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    .
     
    Stuart S likes this.
  10. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    oh man Louis, you are killing me. I wasn't going to buy these AGAIN!
     
    1970 likes this.
  11. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    :laugh: I know it. It seems like unnecessary redundancy, but IMO these reissues really are "must-have" for the dyed-in-the-wool Church fan. Word of advice: if you're going to bite the bullet and you want these still factory sealed, get Heyday first and don't tarry. It is already getting scarce.

    .
     
  12. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    It would be a luxury for me I'm afraid, having already bought Heyday twice. I'm not crazy about the 2002 remastered sound, so I think the only way I would buy the Church catalog again is if we got audiophile remastering on cd and/or vinyl.

    Can you imagine if our host remastered Starfish for AF Gold cd?
     
    vonwegen likes this.
  13. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    10. “Hotel Womb”


    “Hotel Womb.” Most vexing for me in considering what angle to take for this review has been continually fragmenting thoughts. As a consequence, I have had not much more than a handful of scribbled notes and a blank screen for two weeks. Then about a week ago I went into complete, forced immersion with this song. By “forced,” I mean even when I wasn’t actually playing the track, I kept it going in my head. While that has helped, I still feel somewhat tripped up by writer’s block. (But... time's up. Here we go.)

    The difficult matter-at-hand is of the song itself. “Hotel Womb.” There is something so visceral about it, but I am not certain exactly what it evokes. It has a beautiful genesis, but I don’t know what that is. And, as its lyric suggests, it is a river that leads to dark yet illustrious places; but as with many other Church songs, the journey remains a mystery.

    It could be said that this closing act for Starfish, in effect, represents the end of an era as well. For early in The Church’s history, Steve Kilbey was the sole composer for the lion’s share of the band’s recordings. This all began to change in earnest with Starfish's predecessor Heyday; at this point, there is a conscious shift of composition emerging as collective effort. So, “Hotel Womb” is not only one of the last songs Kilbey wrote for The Church on his own ³ but ─ with all deference to any fellow Church fan who may disagree ─ it is also one of the best.

    Needless to say, “Hotel Womb” breathes so stately and sublime in the capable hands of Kilbey and his bandmates: a trancelike, cascading, emotive performance with verve. This is state-of-the-art Church. To wit: with nearly 250 songs to choose from, this is the third most-played song in The Church’s setlist chronicles.⁵ To the initiated, the reasons are obvious. To the rest, I say: listen and know. After nine Starfish song reviews, I am beginning to run out of superlatives.

    I will take a moment, and some liberty, and suppose this song’s provenance. I imagine that Kilbey’s muses bequeathed “Hotel Womb” to him quickly, in no uncertainty or abstraction, that the song practically wrote itself, in a magical turn of happenstance. It feels like that kind of song.

    Once, when obliquely describing “Hotel Womb,” Kilbey rhetorically inquired: “middle bit supposed to represent a musical storm?” ⁴ I would say so. To me, the entire piece is a musical storm, and I love its stormy quality. Volcano pierce the air / ashes block out the sun… buildings swaying like trees… a hidden city... Could Starfish have ended any other way?





    ****

    Next up: Album summary… and then: 2011 bonus tracks.


    ****

    ¹ Willson-Piper, Marty: liner notes, The Church Starfish CD, 2011, Second Motion Records
    ² Lurie, Robert Dean: No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church: A Biography, Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.177
    ³ Note: next-to-the-last song, to be exact. The last song SK wrote for The Church on his own was “Comedown,” from the 1996 album Magician Among the Spirits.
    ⁴ Kilbey, Steve: Mushroom Records Starfish press release, 1988
    ⁵ Webb, Paul: The Church: Setlist Database Song History

    .
     
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  14. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    I'm reading that last one back now, and I realize the footnotes don't line up with the text quite right. All apologies.

    .
     
  15. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Forum Resident

    I don't have much to say about "Hotel Womb," but I will say that this has been one of the best song-by-song album threads in the history of the Hoffman forums. Thanks for putting so much work and thought into this.

    Glad you're going to tackle the bonus tracks, too! :)
     
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  16. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Thank you. I really appreciate that.

    .
     
  17. BadJack

    BadJack doorman who always high-fives children of divorce

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Take a bow, sir.

    If you were to ever tackle a "Revolution in the Head"-like song-by-song Church book, put me down for a copy.
     
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  18. AlienRendel

    AlienRendel Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, il
    I think "Hotel Womb" is my favorite song on the album. A blockbuster of a closer, it takes you on a journey and then ends with the "just another mile" lyric to indicate that the journey is not over. I love the bit after the song breaks down where the weird chanting is very low in the mix. Sounds like a primitive ceremony going on back there. Also, another fantastic guitar solo and arrangement here.
     
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  19. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    I don't think you fully immersed yourself in "Hotel Womb" if you didn't track down and listen to all 250 live renditions of it!!

    Thanks for posting that setlist summary. I will check that out later when I get a chance.

    HW is a great song and a wonderful album closer - I always thought it bookended nicely with Destination and makes the whole album feel like a journey (your comments noted that this song itself is one as well). You mentioned that it ended the first phase of the band from a songwriting perspective, it also signals the "end of the ascent" of their commercial success and just a few years later two band members will be gone and a third will be in the throes of a massive heroin addiction. This to me gives an added poignancy to the song HW.
     
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  20. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    Off topic for a bit, I just finally looked at Paul Webb's song list to view the live histroy of The Church. Wow, what a great read and Paul did a serious amount of work. Most of my favorites rank fairly high and get frequent live outings. I was really surprised to see how few times "Too Fast For You" has been played - presumably Mr. Kilbey really doesn't like it, which is a shame!
     
    1970 likes this.
  21. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    Was wondering where this thread had gone to!

    Now that the album proper is done, how good are the bonus songs?
     
  22. JeffMo

    JeffMo Format Agnostic

    Location:
    New England
    I believe Louis said he would continue on with the bonus disc discussion. The b-sides from this era are (unsurprisingly) of very high quality.

    I saw that you scored Starfish on vinyl and that is excellent. I just recently got my turntable working for the first time in about 15 years and have really been enjoying the analog sound of my old records, but it makes me want to get some vinyl for the bands/albums that I've discovered in that timespan, such as the mighty Church!
     
  23. vonwegen

    vonwegen Forum Resident

    You won't regret finding a good pressing of Starfish on vinyl, believe me.
     
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  24. morgan1098

    morgan1098 Forum Resident

    Ok, I said earlier that I didn't have anything to say about "Hotel Womb," but I've been listening to Starfish a lot lately and I think it might be my favorite track on the album. The chorus is "catchy" but it's not the chorus that appeals to me... it's the verses. I love the vocal phrasing, I love the way Piper strums those guitars. It's some of the best atmospheric guitar music I've ever heard. And the verse lyrics are amazing, too, even though I have no clue what they mean. I especially like these enigmatic lines:

    I say, 'Why are you people wearing those masks?'
    I say, "Can we be reconciled?'
    She says, 'The mother of the storm has to roam the sky,
    Searching for her child.'

    Trippy!
     
    1970 likes this.
  25. 1970

    1970 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    Bonus tracks in the works and up very soon... I haven't jumped ship!

    .
     
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