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The Church - Priest = Aura CD (album) cover


The Church


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3.99 | 44 ratings

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4 stars First, I must elaborate on how I came to find The Church, and how over 35 years of music buying, they are one of the most endearing bands to me. I first came across them in a review of "Priest=Aura" by the local rock critic in the Erie(PA) Daily News. He gave the CD high marks, which prompted me to give it a listen at my favorite music store. I was not blown away by what I heard - at first - but something about the arrangements and the vocal delivery (which is quite unique in rock circles) by Steven Kilbey made me purchase the CD on the notion it would grow on me. For the most part, it sat seldom-listened to on my CD shelf. Only once in awhile in 1992 did I pull this CD out and listen to it.

Then in 1994 came the release of "Somewhere Anywhere". I piced it up and was stunned at how different it was from P=A. This one grabbed me by the throat, and I was immediately hooked. I then proceeded to buy "Starfish" (most Church fans' favorite, and their most commercial release to date), "Gold Afternoon Fix", "Heyday" and "Remote Luxury". As a new Church fan, I was engrossed in their sound and songwriting.

After this much background, the process by which The Church arrived at where they were when they recorded "Priest=Aura" became much clearer. They had essentially started out in the New Wave scene, but transformed as the genre ran its course and The Church found no place in the mainstream of radio music. Thank God for that!

This CD, as others have pointed out, is pivotal in the lifespan of this band. They have re-invented themselves at least 3 times in the 25 years of their existence, and this is a cornerstone of metamorphosis for them. There is something of a "goth" sound to the tracks on this album, and a stark beauty as well. One of the most brilliant short songs in my memory is here, the 1:37 long "Old Flame". This is one of the most haunting short songs I have ever heard, and it is nothing short of a masterpiece. It also must be a band favorite, as I've seen them perform it live along with the most popular songs of their career among their fans.

I have tried to pass The Church along to friends who enjoy progressive rock, as well as other genres. It seems the band is one in which the listener "gets it", or they don't. It is extremely hard to define, but the music is about a passion and a vibe so sublime that the majority of listeners never get "hooked". This band is all about chemistry and alchemy. One has to have an appreciation for both to get the sum experience of what The Church lay down in the studio. But once you get it, there's no letting go.

Therefore, The Church to this day defy categorization. Marillion is another band that fights labels tooth and nail, but often loses, which is a moot point, as most people have made up their minds who is what type of music, while many (most?) don't care about labels. I'm one of the latter. And The Church clearly play to their own whims and write to their own content and no one else's. Their fans wouldn't have them any other way.

Buy this CD if you've never heard it, but don't stop here. There are many more treasures out there in the archives.

beebs | 4/5 |


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