Starfish (album)

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Starfish
Studio album by The Church
Released 16 February 1988
Recorded 1987
Genre Alternative rock, neo-psychedelia
Length 46:07
Label Arista (worldwide except Australia)
Mushroom (Australia)
Producer Greg Ladanyi, Waddy Wachtel, The Church
The Church chronology
Heyday
(1986)
Starfish
(1988)
Gold Afternoon Fix
(1990)

Starfish is the fifth studio album by Australian alternative rock band The Church, released in February 1988.[1] The band's breakthrough album, Starfish went gold in America and has remained the band's most commercially successful release. The album sold 600,000 copies in the United States alone.[2] The first single, "Under the Milky Way", charted well into the American Top 40, peaking at No. 24 and No. 2 on Mainstream Rock Tracks leading to significant exposure of the then relatively underground Australian act. In Australia "Under the Milky Way" climbed to No. 5, and Starfish reached No. 7 on the album charts, the band's highest positions ever in their home market.[3]

Background[edit]

The album was recorded/produced in Los Angeles by L.A. session musicians Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi.[1] The recording is more sparse and open than its predecessor, Heyday, which featured orchestral arrangements with brass and strings. Many of its songs have seen heavy rotation in live set lists, and the album remains a favorite among many fans.

The song "Under the Milky Way" was co-written by Kilbey and his then-girlfriend Karin Jansson of Pink Champagne. Because the band was unable to get a drum track which sounded right live in the studio by Richard Ploog, the band played to a click track and later session musician Russ Kunkel was brought in to add drums and percussion.[4]

The album's title was taken from singer/bassist Steve Kilbey's nickname for friend/ musical partner Donnette Thayer, who signed herself that way on postcards she sent to Kilbey. Kilbey contributed a long untitled poem to the album's liner notes. "Hotel Womb" has dream-themed lyrics relating to an imagined wedding.[citation needed] Music videos were filmed for "Under The Milky Way" and "Reptile." The fifth season of the US TV show, Miami Vice, featured two songs from the album. "Under the Milky Way" was used in an episode called "Asian Cut" (aired 13 January 1989), and "Blood Money" was showcased throughout "Heart Of Night" (18 November 1988).

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[6]

1988 Tour[edit]

Touring for Starfish in 1988 marked the first time that the bulk of the shows were in North America. European dates were limited to two weeks in March and April, and another week at the end of June, while the only Australian shows were in Melbourne and Sydney at the end of April. The North American leg of the tour was extensive, however, covering virtually all of May and June, another month of dates from mid-August to mid-September and still more shows in October. On the August and September dates, The Church were paired with Peter Murphy, former lead singer of the cult new wave/Goth band Bauhaus, now pursuing a mildly successful solo career. Murphy apparently expressed displeasure at being relegated to the status of opening act, but there was nothing he could do about it - "Under the Milky Way" was climbing the Billboard singles chart, while Murphy would not achieve a similar breakthrough for another two years. For a number of other dates on the tour, the band was paired with another of Steve and Marty's heroes: Tom Verlaine of Television. Verlaine supported The Church. For their encore every night ("You Took"), they brought Verlaine on stage with them for a three-way guitar duel. Some fans consider the Verlaine/Church shows to be some of the best live performances they've ever witnessed.[7] Drummer Richard Ploog became gradually disengaged from the band during this tour, even though he stayed with The Church for another two years. The exact nature of his malady is unknown but most agree that LSD exacerbated his condition.[8] There were degrees of internal strife within the band and a high pressure of expectation from Arista. Because of this, Kilbey smoked more pot on this tour than at any other point in his life - such large quantities that he routinely coughed up blood.[9] By the tour's end, The Church had performed ninety-four shows across the US, Canada, Europe, the UK and Australia.[10]

Later events[edit]

"Under the Milky Way" was featured in the 2001 film Donnie Darko. The song "Reptile" was used in Toy Machine's skateboarding video Suffer the Joy. A sheet music/guitar tablature book was released for the entire album by Cherry Lane.

In October 2010, it was listed in the top 40 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.[11]

In 2011 the album, along with Priest=Aura and Untitled #23, was played in its entirety on the band's 30th Anniversary "Future, Past, Perfect" Tour.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Destination" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  2. "Under the Milky Way" (Kilbey/Jansson)
  3. "Blood Money" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  4. "Lost" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  5. "North, South, East And West" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  6. "Spark" (Willson-Piper)
  7. "Antenna" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  8. "Reptile" (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
  9. "A New Season" (Koppes)
  10. "Hotel Womb" (Kilbey)

Initial vinyl copies of the album came with a free bonus 12" EP.[1] Track listing:

  1. "Anna Miranda" (Kilbey/Jansson/The Church)
  2. "Musk" (Kilbey/The Church)
  3. "Perfect Child" (Kilbey/The Church)
  4. "Frozen And Distant" (Kilbey/The Church)
  5. "Texas Moon" (Kilbey/The Church)

All except "Musk" later appeared on the band's 1991 rarities compilation, A Quick Smoke at Spot's (which was included with the 2CD release of Priest=Aura). All five appeared on a 2005 double-CD remastered version of Starfish.

Personnel[edit]

Credited to:[1]

Additional musicians[edit]

Charted singles[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock UK
1988 Under the Milky Way 24 - 2 90 Starfish

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Holmgren, Magnus. "The Church". passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.197.
  3. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.198.
  4. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.182.
  5. ^ Allmusic review
  6. ^ Rolling Stone review
  7. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.190-92.
  8. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.193.
  9. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.196.
  10. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.197.
  11. ^ O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9. 
  12. ^ Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.182.

External links[edit]