The Church – The Blurred Crusade

The Church is one of those bands where I feel like I need a prologue, like The Beatles or Marc Almond, because just mentioning that I have a lot of Church albums is not going to begin to indicate my actual level of obsession with The Church.

The Blurred Crusade’s enigmatic cover is still glossy and black decades later, and super hard to photograph

It began, like a lot of things for me and my generation, with a video on MTV, for a song from their first album, “The Unguarded Moment.” It was one of those videos that we only saw a few times, probably very late at night (early the next morning, is what I mean). At the time, there was something about the ethereal music and the atmospheric video that hooked me on The Church deeply and immediately. (I can’t even find what I think was the video on YouTube, but I could be completely misremembering that it was anything other than this.)

As an Australian group that didn’t really make a mark in the US, their records were pretty much limited to the import section of the student-run record store, Spectrum Records, where I think I got nearly all of my collection. Their introductory album, “The Church,” was released in the US (much of their later work was not). But it wasn’t really all that available. My roommate got a copy of that album, and it was wonderful, everything that first song had promised. I immediately set about procuring everything by them that I could get my hands on. But some years later, I realized that one of those things had not been “The Church” — I didn’t own a copy of that first album, and only had it on cassette. Later on, I got a version of it on CD, what appears to be a slightly earlier release called “Of Skins and Heart,” identical in content but for one swapped out song and a very different cover.

So, for purposes of this blog, I don’t even have the first Church album. That’s okay — I have the second. “The Blurred Crusade” is one of my favorite albums of all time. Top 5. I have loved this album since I got it in 1982. It is dreamy, ethereal, yet electric and exciting. I guess this even saw release in the US, but my copy is from France, and it looks and feels amazing, heavy vinyl before that became a thing again and a clean crisp sound.

I’ve never been a religious person, and I know it sounds like I’m trying to be clever, but this album started me proselytizing for The Church — everyone I met with any interest in music, everyone I gave tapes to, everyone who would sit still long enough for me to blather at them heard about The Church (see: fabulousness thereof, my obsession therewith). I think I converted exactly no one. Years later, when they had something like a hit with “Under the Milky Way,” I became that guy who was into them years before, and who would explain how that’s possibly the least of all their songs. I was obnoxious. But if you can, listen to this album and you will also see that I was not wrong.

“Almost With You” — the dreamiest song on the album, and maybe my all-time favorite Church song
The Church The Blurred Crusade
The back cover is even harder to photograph, just a field of glossy black and simple Goudy typography.
Home Taping is Killing Music
Now, where have I heard that before? Particularly ironic in this case, since I made any number of people tapes of The Church’s music in hopes of getting them into the band – whose records weren’t generally available in the US anyway.

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