From the release of the She Never Said single in November 1980, this unique Sydney-based band produced a distinctive, ethereal, psychedelic blend of music which alternatively found favour and disfavour in Australia.
An initial rush of success saw The Church burst onto the singles charts in 1981 with The Unguarded Moment from their debut album, Of Skins and Hearts. Co-produced by the legendary Bob Clearmountain (and mixed by him at the Power Station in NY), the LP was an accomplished and intriguing work that gave the band a base to journey to the UK and Europe in 1982.
The band’s 1960s/Byrds revivalist stance, coupled with a distinctive 12-string jangly guitar approach were exemplified on the album The Blurred Crusade (1982) by such songs as Almost With You and When You Were Mine.
In July 1987, Steve Kilbey published a book of his prose, entitled Earthed. He also released a purely instrumental solo album also bearing the title Earthed, to accompany the book.
Starfish (1988) saw the band gain college radio play in the US, earning them a US Top 30 hit with Under The Milky Way. The prestigious Los Angeles Times described their sixth album as “dense, shimmering, exquisite guitar pop”. Such reviews assisted the album in its climb to #1 on the American Alternative and AOR charts.
By 1993 both Richard Ploog and Peter Koppes had left the band leaving Kilbey and Wilson-Piper to bring onboard session musicians, although Kiwi drummer Tim Powles would end up staying with the band for two decades.
By 1996, everything had fallen apart, Kilbey and Wilson-Piper weren’t on speaking terms and Kilbey was engaging lawyers to track down the money.
The original four members agreed to play a string of farewell concerts around Australia, which turned out to be extremely successful. The roaring success of the intended “final concert” in Sydney put a quick end to talk of the band’s demise.
Despite many more lineup changes, Steve Kilbey plodded on as the sole original member.
“I like synthesizers, but I don’t like synthesizers in The Church.
That’s a bit like putting Elizabeth I in a sports car” – Steve Kilbey. 1982.