The Church - A Box Of Birds

Album cover

  1. The Faith Healer (7:35)
  2. It's All Too Much (6:10)
  3. Hiroshima Mon Amour (4:27)
  4. The Porpoise Song (4:28)
  5. Decadence (9:14)
  6. The Endless Sea (4:33)
  7. Friction (5:11)
  8. All The Young Dudes (4:10)
  9. Silver Machine (4:57)
  10. Cortez The Killer (11:08)

Cooking Vinyl, 1999

The Church are a pretty prolific band, so this album of covers was hardly a sign of lack of original material. They followed the wise tradition of covering semi-obscure songs, with a couple of exceptions. So it's foremost a sightseeing tour through the range of the influences that moulded the Church's richly arranged guitar pop. But for some it's also a useful route into exploring the originals.

The insistent single-chord thumps of Alex Harvey's "The Faith Healer" and the monumental arches of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" form a rock-solid top and tail to their set. Kevin Ayers' "Decadence" is just as solid a centrepiece, a dark but absorbing journey that whips up grinding swathes of guitar over a constant hypnotic four-note ping. Like a live set they play the tracks without breaks, and this eases perfectly into the bass-heavy lumbering of Iggy Pop's "The Endless Sea".

Ultravox's synth-poppy "Hiroshima Mon Amour" sits oddly among the guitar grinders, but it's a pertinent reminder of the scene where the Church emerged at the start of the 1980s. Other minor attractions include include a piece of Kinks whimsy "Porpoise Song", the penetrating guitar licks on punkists Television's "Friction", and Hawkwind's entertainingly dumb "Silver Machine". One dubious choice is the obscure piece of George Harrison Beatles fluff "It's All Too Much". (Note for nerds - Church guitarist Marty Willson-Piper's other band of the early 1990s, All About Eve, also played this at the occasional gig)

February 15, 2005

7 out of 10

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written and maintained by Christopher Jackson