The early 1980’s heralded a second Liverpool-based musical renaissance responsible for producing not just new wave legends OMD, but also the diverse likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, A Flock of Seagulls and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Amongst these lauded Merseyside acts was China Crisis, emerging in 1981 from their native Kirkby as the songwriting duo of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist / vocalist Eddie Lundon, who over the years have been accompanied by a gifted and creative but ever-mutable group of musicians both on stage and in their recordings. Citing influences as varied as Davie Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Eric Satie, it’s not entirely surprising that their sound was distinctive amongst their peers, often combining elements of jazz, reggae, country and other styles with their own unique melodies and harmonies. With their philosophy that “the song is the most important thing”, China Crisis didn’t just stretch the creative limits of the technology of the time, but incorporated horns, strings, woodwinds, pedal steel, and did whatever they sensed would serve to create the best possible outcome for a given song. The result of their effort was a clearly identifiable China Crisis sound that stood out from the crowd and garnered the band eleven UK Top 50 singles and three UK Top 40 albums, as well as commercial success in Western Europe, Australia and the Americas.
Hits in Ireland include the mesmerising Wishful Thinking, Christian, Black Man Ray, King in a Catholic Style, and 3 more top 30 hits.
That the China Crisis sound is enduring is demonstrable well into the 21st Century, not just through the continued fidelity of their longtime fans but the fact that a whole new generation of musicians and listeners are becoming China Crisis devotees. In 2015 Gary and Eddie released the seventh China Crisis studio album to great acclaim via the fan-funded PledgeMusic marketplace, a work referred to as at once “adventurous and contemporary” and “intimate”, and a return to the band’s “heady” songwriting strengths. That same year the band were approached by Sir Robin Millar to participate in a special compilation album, 80’s Re:Covered (featuring top 80’s artists covering some of their own favourite songs from earlier decades), contributing a cover of the Carole King classic “It’s Too Late” performed in the style of their own hit “Christian”. Meanwhile China Crisis classics have been sampled into modern singles by the likes of French Montana and Action Bronson, and the band’s “Wall of God” was included in the hit film Gone Girl, all introducing their music to a whole new audience. The band have undertaken extensive touring to support these endeavours, selling out China Crisis shows throughout the UK as well as in the US, Canada, Holland, the Phillipines and elsewhere, holding special events such as their performance of “Flaunt the Imperfection Live” at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre in honor of the 30th anniversary of the album of the same name, and participated in multiple-headliner tours with the likes of Howard Jones, Midge Ure and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins. 2018 marked the 35th anniversary of the esteemed album Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two, more celebration of the lifetime body of work of China Crisis will surely be in store.