The Church – The Blurred Crusade

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

The Church are my second-favorite Australian band. The Go-Betweens take the top spot, but the Church sit very close behind. After that, it gets a little scant. I guess the Hoodoo Gurus, and then . . . the Easybeats? I don’t know. There is not a lot out of Australia that I like – the Living End made some good records. I never really listened to Radio Birdman, the Saints, the Celibate Rifles, or Nick Cave but I suppose I should make some efforts in those directions. I hated INXS, and was not impressed by Midnight Oil or Crowded House; don’t even bother mentioning AC/DC. Odd that nearby and smaller New Zealand has so many bands I like.

What I Think of This Album

This is the overlooked Church album in my collection. Undeniably stronger than Of Skins and Hearts, it nonetheless lacks any tracks that standout like the ones on the debut (which is not to say there are no high points). So while it has no low points – this album is a paragon of consistency – its evenness is its downfall. “Almost With You” is plainly a classic Church song – the chimey jangle, easy melody, and mysterious vocals are necessary ingredients in the band’s recipes. The almost classical guitar solo is unexpected and beautiful – it’s as if Roddy Frame dropped by and they just let him do whatever he wanted on the track and then he flapped his fringed, suede-jacketed arms and flew back to Scotland. The introduction to “When You Were Mine” is a study in tension and atmospherics; there is a hint of the post-punk sounds from the band’s earlier days, but this time combined with a more psychedelic element. A gnarly little solo appears towards the end of the song, and the band sounds like they are having a lot of fun, showing off on the almost six minutes this track spans. Guitar hero Marty Willson-Piper sings lead on the dramatic and dreamy “Fields of Mars.” There is a Joy Division element to the drumming on this song; and yet, fast-forward seven years and this would fit in comfortably on a shoegazing compilation. “An Interlude” likewise has a hazy narcotic quality, until the very rawk guitar solo that develops toward the conclusion. The gentle balladry of “Secret Corners” is stunning, but disappears in under two minutes; also . . . tubular bells! The intro to “Just For You” is silly but the song is top-notch moody jangle. Steve Kilbey cops an attitude on the snappy “A Fire Burns,” which could easily be a glam-rock song, with its stomping drums, chunky riffing, and epic weeping guitar figures. “To Be In Your Eyes” is a morose plea, and absolutely wonderful, with keyboards adding a layer of lushness to the sad proceedings. The band spends eight minutes on “You Took,” the closest thing to a pointless track on this album – there is a[n electric] spark to Kilbey’s vocal that isn’t normally there, but the guitar work is sort of predictable and uninspiring, and the songwriting isn’t really up to par (though it does provide the album with its title). The closer, “Don’t Look Back,” is very short but with a driving kick drum, some seductive slide guitar, and tambourine (and sleigh bells?). Bob Clearmountain produced, again. Upon hearing this album, the band’s U.S. label refused to release it, and dropped them completely shortly thereafter.

The Best Thing About This Album

My sleeper choice is “To Be In Your Eyes.”   

Release Date

March, 1982

The Cover Art

Ummmm. Fail. The contrast of colors is cool. The suits of armor don’t play well with the “Crusade” of the title. Also, why is that one knight so short? The spacing on the title is poorly done, making it difficult to read, and the same is true for the band name, though not as egregiously.

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