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China Crisis

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China Crisis is a two-man British band which, it seems, has been around forever, but always flying under the radar screen in this country. I have the CCC CD listed first below, and it is a regular listen on the little white box. The review entries quoted below are from the Amazon pages for the specific titles. The CCC disc includes “Christian”, from 1994’s Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, a tune with haunting lyrics:

This is emotion
emotionless war
a torn shirt and a long dead cause
I can’t sleep
this kind of thing gets me down
don’t say walk
I may lose my fear

I could lose myself
in this honesty

I read all sorts of things
there’s so much to learn
I’ve seen the hand that rushes in
as it rush over you

I could lose myself
in this honesty

The band issued Acoustically Yours in 2001, with live acoustic versions of several of its tunes.

China Crisis Collection: The Very Best of China Crisis

    Early 80s MTV viewers probably remember China Crisis best for the “Working With Fire and Steel” video and others will remember them from alternative radio. China Crisis never really caught on stateside and it’s hard to understand why. China Crisis have a great ear for hooks and catchy melodies; not too far off from Crowded House, later Roxy Music and their oft-mentioned mentors Steely Dan. Walter Becker (ex-Steely Dan) produced a number of tracks from this collection along with Mike Thorne. I dare you not to enjoy any of these tracks…there’s nary a dud in the lot of them. I was deep into China Crisis in the 80s and they’re one of the groups who I bothered to replace vinyl with CDs when that time came. I regularly listen to them still, which is a testament to how good they are 10 to 15 years on.


    They never made much of an impact in the US, but China Crisis put out several wonderful records throughout the 80’s. This collection documents their development from synth-pop to the kind of layered, mature music that isn’t heard much anymore. Smooth, intelligent, and very appealing.

Flaunt the Imperfection

    I hate to even call this simply a pop album from mid 80’s from an obscure group;It’s anything but. It’s a mixture of rich experimental global rhythms that not only bring to mind Steely Dan (like other reviewers noted) but also contains faint doses of General Public and Tears For Fears; you hear the music,try to pinpoint where you’ve heard something like this before, but just can’t. This is the kind of admirable musical artistry that a lot of new groups lack today and that I miss. China Crisis is not calculated or contrived in any of their tracks;They seem to go with their gut instinct which works every time. . . Their later projects contained a more soft pop, jazz-like ambient sound (1989’s Diary of A Hollow Horse). . .


    I remember looking all over the place for this disc when I first heard them. Can’t fathom why they weren’t a bigger hit in the states – but I saw them in concert in and around NY a few times and these guys were very special. The allusions to Steely Dan are certainly correct in the progressive and somewhat haunting style of music (as well as the WB collaboration on the present disc). Though all of their albums are quite good Flaunt is clearly the best.

Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs, Vol. 2

    Highly and richly melodic, hook laden, catchy synth riffs and drums and guitar is only a sample of ways to describe this 1983 release from China Crisis. Crisis never received much air play statewise on regular top 40; it reached more of a main staple or cult new wave group status for college stations or pre-alternative album stations. Make no mistake, vocals are very Euro sounding though lead singer sang in English. There are slight resemblances to early Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, Oingo Boingo, Wang Chung yet China Crisis still had their own distinct sound or quality (more warmth than pizzaz). More dance oriented material for the early club goers of the 80’s (but certainly no disco music). Track like When the Piper Calls is reminiscent Depeche Mode while the song Hanna Hanna has a Wang Chung feel before Wang Chung made it big! There are a few tracks such as Here Comes A Raincloud with it’s slow tempo and melancholy drum programmed-synth sound that can still convey a haunting-somber atmosphere with a violin sounding backdrop.Another treasure of a track is the smooth flowing Wishful Thinking with it’s mid-tempo feel, calming vocals and wailing background sax work and acoustic/electric guitar! This is a must have for any music collecting afficionados with an eclectic taste and a streak of nostalgia in them!. . . After 20 years one of the very few and best pop albums that has aged well. . .


Diary of Hollow Horse (1990)
Warped By Success (1994)
Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms (1994)

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About M. Sean Fosmire

  • ld67

    seen them last night as support to omd in glasgow and they are really good live.

  • martin

    great band went to see them with t-pau last week brought back great memories . even my 3 year old sings along to black man ray so theres another fan can`t wait till next gig but don`t know when or where any body got any info

  • jose

    superb band unfairly critically unaclaimed


    Absolutely awesom band!!!!!
    Andre Nunes
    (Cape Town/South Africa

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks M. Sean, very nice synth-pop band that created some very luch textures and memorable tunes, I’d compafe them most to Heaven 17. I am somewhat confused where the quotes are from.

  • Excellent group. Criminally unknown among most music fans.