Between their initial chart successes (the albums "Of Skins and Heart" (1981) and "The Blurred Crusade" (1982)) and their emergence as a truly international music act in 1987 with the album "Starfish" and single "Under The Milky-Way," the Church released two experimental albums: the somewhat chilly and austere "Séance" (1983) and the more florid, guitar-laden "Heyday" (1985). All of the aforementioned albums were subsequently released on CD (although Séance is currently out-of-print) and are available here at Amazon.
However, in addition to their LP work, the Church also released three EP's in Australia and New Zealand between 1982 and 1984. In 1985, Arista Records did release an LP called "Remote Luxury" which reproduced the "Remote Luxury" and "Persia" EP's in full, although the resulting album had a completely different running order, and like Séance, the Arista pressing of Remote Luxury eventually went out of print.
So, that's the discography taken care of. But what about the EP's themselves? The first of the EP's, "Sing-Songs" (released in late 1982) sounds very different to the two EP's that follow, so it would not be appropriate to consider all three together. "Sing-Songs" followed a hard year of touring by the Church in support of "The Blurred Crusade." "Sing-Songs" was rehearsed and recorded very quickly (in only two nights) and it was the band's way of thanking their following in Australia and New Zealand for all their support. (Their first two albums were commercial successes in our part of the world.) The soundscape of "Sing-Songs," as typified by "In This Room" was a harbinger of the cool, dry sound that was to follow on their next album, "Séance." "The Night is Very Soft" and a spirited run-through of Paul Simon's "I Am A Rock" are the highlights of this EP, but the rest of "Sing-Songs" is fairly standard, unremarkable new-wave rock.
The next two EP's, "Remote Luxury" and "Persia" were recorded between late 1983 and mid 1984. In recent interviews, Steve Kilbey has often been scathing of these two releases, regarding them as something of a lost opportunity. It's a real pity if that is so, because these two EP's document Kilbey's rapid growth as a songwriter, and both releases still contain some of the finest songs he's ever written. Marty Willson-Piper was also growing in confidence as a songwriter in this period, and his two contributions to these EP's "Volumes" and "10,000 Miles" were the best songs he'd written up to that point in his career.
The band's new-found songwriting muscle was further enhanced by the band's growing awareness of what they could accomplish in the studio. On these last two EP's, the Church expand their sound to include prominent keyboards, sound effects and exotic instruments. If you've always thought of the Church in terms of jangling Rickenbackers, then the big brassy stomp of "Maybe These Boys," the stark, mechanical "Constant in Opal" and the moody depths of "No Explanation" will come as something of a surprise to you. But there is also the excellent "A Month of Sundays", the classic "Shadow Cabinet" and the pop-friendly "Into My Hands". The band's new-found freedom is matched by more powerful and inventive playing.
But the highlight of this compilation is within the "Persia" EP, which contains the great, overlooked classic Church song: "Violet Town". One of Kilbey's finest moments, the musical tug-of-war that takes place in the verses is suddenly resolved by a brilliant chorus, while the lyrics themselves perfectly convey the sense of hopelessness and desperation pervading a decaying rural community. "Violet Town" has not (yet) attained the recognition it deserves.
This compilation is digitally remastered and comes complete with liner notes and photos of the band. The CD deserves a place in the collection of every Church devotee.