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Positive review of Of Skins and Heart Print E-mail
Thursday, 01 January 1981

I don't know what journal this came from, but I'd guess it was one of the Australian street music papers.

 

The Church

Of Skins And Heart

(EMI) 

This is the debut from Sydney four piece The Church. The Church came together about a year ago, and secured a deal with the Beatles' publishing firm, ATV Northern Songs, soon after beginning live performances.

The album, Of Skins And Heart, was produced by ATV's Chris Gilbey and mixed in the United States by Bob Clearmountain. it is well produced, clear and dynamic, accenting The Church's distinctive aspects.

Since the recording was completed, drummer Nick Ward has departed, being replaced by the  extraordinary Richard Ploog, resulting in a punchier sound. [Brian note: Interesting choice of words, since Nick was asked to leave after literally punching Marty!]

Of Skins And Heart opens with For A Moment We're Strangers, which is in writer, vocalist, bass player Steve Kilbey's words about "...knowing someone, and then seeing them again as you did when you first saw them. "It also establishes a kind of theme whch runs through the album to the last track, the sad, acoustic Don't Open the door To strangers, where "...you find that the person going all through the album is a stranger to start with."

For A Moment We're Strangers is a good example of the whole album, which can't be said (although it is distinctively The Church), to have a great deal of variation. it's a medium quick pop song, notable for the ringing, jangling Byrds/Beatles influenced guitar, a little distorted, hinting at the much more powerful live sound. The song flows smoothly, rising through the verses, to a choppy chorus, which fades down to guiet again for the next verse, all the while accompanied by melodic lead guitar and Kilbey's nasal vocals.

Chrome Injury, with its Byrds harmonies is much the same, and leads to the single, The Unguarded Moment, and that reminiscent Ticket To Ride riff.

Memories In Future Tense is more powerful, with its insistent chugging rhythm, and a little more necessity in kilbey's singing. A more aggressive song, with the guitars, in a patches, grinding with a harder edge.

Finishing the side is Bel-Air, which is a quieter, commentary sort of song, which hangs mainly on the "He can never be" at the end.

Side two opens with Is This Where You Live, which begins magnificently with the strains of an instrument named a vocoder which sounds somewhere between a synthesizer and droning human voices. A song that captures a real tension, it develops into a typically ringing Church/Byrds co-composition.

She Never Said is a noisier, punchier, rougher and more dynamic song for the song for most, with cutting, far off sounding guitar and thumping drum beat. 

Next, Fighter Pilot...Korean War behaves typically, with the usual ambiguous, uneconomical, but moderately colourful lyrical imagery. Steve Kilbey's lyrics are definitely not written for the thu purpose of direct statement, and border often on meaninglessnes, hoping mainly to convey a feeling, a gist of some thought or situation which happens to exist.

Don't Open The Door to strangers ends the album on a kind of sad, wron out, hung-over late at night feeling. it's basically acoustic, piano and guitar (no, they don't play it live), with some electric lead, giving it a distant, Dark Side of The Moon atmosphere.

A notable Australian pop album, of Skins And heart may become just another curiosity or it may be the beginning of something. 

That's up to The Church 

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