|Studio album by The Church|
|Released||16 February 1988|
|Genre||Alternative rock, neo-psychedelia, psychedelic rock, dream pop|
|Producer||Greg Ladanyi, Waddy Wachtel & The Church|
|The Church chronology|
|Singles from Starfish|
Starfish is the fifth album by Australian psychedelic rock band The Church, released in February 1988. The band's breakthrough album, Starfish went gold in America and has remained their most commercially successful release. The album sold 600,000 copies in the United States alone. The first single, "Under the Milky Way", charted well in 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.
The album was recorded/produced in Los Angeles by L.A. session musicians Waddy Wachtel and Greg Ladanyi. 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 with his then-girlfriend Karin Jansson of Pink Champagne. When drummer Richard Ploog was unable to find the right feel for the song, the band played to a click track and session musician Russ Kunkel was brought in to add the drums and percussion later.
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. 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).
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. 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. 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. By the tour's end, The Church had performed ninety-four shows across the US, Canada, Europe, the UK and Australia.
"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 a retrospective for AllMusic, critic Ned Raggett gave the album four and half stars and wrote that album "if sometimes too clean around the corners in comparison to the song-for-song masterpiece Heyday, Starfish set up the band's well-deserved breakthrough in the States." and added that "[the] Performances throughout are at the least fine and at the most fantastic."
|1.||"Destination" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||5:51|
|2.||"Under the Milky Way" (Kilbey, Karin Jansson)||4:57|
|3.||"Blood Money" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||4:23|
|4.||"Lost" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||4:47|
|5.||"North, South, East And West" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||4:59|
|7.||"Antenna" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||3:51|
|8.||"Reptile" (Kilbey, Koppes, Ploog, Willson-Piper)||4:56|
|9.||"A New Season" (Koppes)||2:58|
|10.||"Hotel Womb" (Kilbey)||5:40|
- Additional tracks
|Bonus tracks from 12" EP|
- Steve Kilbey - lead vocals, bass guitar
- Peter Koppes - guitars, lead vocal on "A New Season"
- Marty Willson-Piper - guitars, lead vocal on "Spark"
- Richard Ploog - drums, percussion
- Additional musicians
- Greg Kuehn - keyboards
- Russ Kunkel - drums and percussion on "Under The Milky Way"
- David Lindley - mandolin on "Antenna"
- "Awesome Welles" - Synclavier
- Waddy Wachtel - backing vocals
|US Hot 100||US Modern Rock||US Mainstream Rock||UK|
|1988||Under the Milky Way||24||-||2||90||Starfish|
- "Starfish". AllMusic.
- Holmgren, Magnus. "The Church". passagen.se. Australian Rock Database (Magnus Holmgren). Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.197.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.198.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.182.
- Allmusic review
- Rolling Stone review[dead link]
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and the Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.190-92.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.193.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.196.
- Robert Dean Lurie. No Certainty Attached: Steve Kilbey and The Church. Portland OR: Verse Chorus Press, 2009, p.197.
- O'Donnell, John; Creswell, Toby; Mathieson, Craig (October 2010). 100 Best Australian Albums. Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 978-1-74066-955-9.
- "RIAA Gold & Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 22 October 2010.