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Sunday, 10 February 2013

Heyday – The Church (1985)

The Church has been one of the most consistently rewarding Australian bands. If you love ringing Rickenbacker guitars coupled with psychedelic melodic power and moody vocals then The Church are the band for you. Heyday was The Church’s last album on Parlophone Records; the label released a string of brilliant Church albums through the eighties that were successful enough, but not globally huge. Heyday wasn’t huge and so Parlophone dropped them, subsequently missing out on their biggest success with the Under the Milky Way single and Starfish (1988) album. Such is pop life.

Heyday is a lushly detailed tapestry of melodic psychedelia matched with brilliant songwriting. Myrrh starts off with beautifully intertwining guitars that build into the first verse, which features dreamlike lyrics that are typical of Kilbey’s songwriting. Myrrh, like the rest of Heyday, has a deeply textured sound with instrumental motifs coming and going, all adding to a hook laden whole. The entire first side is awash with ethereal beauty cut through with those Rickenbackers. Tristesse simply chimes with them, backed with propulsive bass and drums. The rest of side one – Already Yesterday, Columbus and Happy Hunting Ground makes for totally engaging listening. Columbus was released as a single, which failed to make much impact but deserved to, with its catchy vocal melodies and nagging guitar riffs.

Side one opens with Tantalized, one of The Church’s great all out psychedelic rock songs. As with the rest of the album on vinyl the song simply envelops the listener with analogue power. After the total freak-out of Tantalized side two is similar to the first quality wise, with songs like Disenchanted moving along at a mid-tempo grandeur with complex chord changes and long melodic instrumental interludes. Kilbey’s vocals are a soft baritone, embracing you with mystical narratives and opulent imagery. Night of Light, Youth Worshiper and album closer Roman are all fully realized psychedelic mini epics and make the album one of the best Australian LPs of the eighties.

The album’s cover totally sums up this band, who were accused of being ‘hippies’ by the English music press. They totally didn’t give a shit and here they wear their then trademark paisley shirts backed with a middle-eastern wall rug - totally appropriate and beautiful. Brilliant songs, exquisite playing and superb production, Heyday is an ideal place for any Church novice to begin a love affair with the musical equivalent of a paisley shirt.

Detail of rear cover

Check out some of these great songs, which of course sound inferior on You-tube via shitty computer speakers, but that’s your problem. Play them loud anyway:

The Church - no paisley shirts?

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