The Church

The Best of the Church

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Not to be confused with the superior Under the Milky Way: The Best of the Church, The Best of the Church is yet another "greatest-hits"-style compilation from the Australian band. Since the Church only had one Top 40 smash in America -- the evocative, mood-spinning "Under the Milky Way" -- this collection is mainly for those who mistakenly believed that the group vanished after its brief flirtation with pop radio in 1988. Compared to Under the Milky Way, The Best of the Church seems pointless. The track listing, focusing mainly on the group's inconsistent post-chart efforts in the late '80s and '90s, doesn't adequately summarize the highlights in the Church's discography. The bracing twin-guitar attack of 1981's "The Unguarded Moment" is one of the few enlightening peeks into the band's post-punk past. In contrast, Under the Milky Way vividly showed, in chronological order, how the group evolved. Nevertheless, there are a number of classics here -- the eternally beautiful "Under the Milky Way," the bitter "Reptile," and the lovely "Two Places at Once," a duet between leader Steve Kilbey and guitarist Marty Willson-Piper. The otherworldly "Ripple" was a neglected gem from 1992's Priest = Aura. The track encapsulates the Church's knack for crafting atmospheric yet accessible dreamy psychedelic rock. Because the group's '90s albums were far from perfect -- 1993's Sometime Anywhere was a massive letdown -- The Best of the Church enables the cost-conscious to own the band's finest tunes from that period without the filler. Given a choice, however, Under the Milky Way is a better buy.

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