A GUEST POSTING by MARTIN ELLIOT (Our Swedish Correspondent)


It’s Fun To Entertain

About a month ago there was a pretty thorough writing on the blog about China Crisis which basically ended up in the confession they never really made it at Villain Towers while there were some positive comments.

I also added my share of appreciation, especially for some of the single b-sides, a comment supported by Postpunkmonk. So I thought I’d increase the China Crisis content here at The new Vinyl Villain by offering an ICA primarily based on single b-sides.

For an extensive read please go back to the “Rarely Mentioned In Dispatches” entry, I will not repeat the history so well put down by JC.

Just one addition; the CC single Wishful Thinking (not featured) hit the number 1 position on the Swedish radio show Poporama where listeners voted. However, they did never really bother our charts in terms of sales.

It’s Fun To Entertain – A China Crisis ICA.

Side A:
1. Greenacre Bay 12″ version (b-side to Christian 7″/12″).

My all-time favourite CC song kicks off the ICA, a true pop gem thrown away as b-side. The use of what sounds like a Caribbean steel drum is just fantastic.

2. No Ordinary Lover (from the Virgin compilation Methods Of Dance volume II).

Also featured as a slightly shorter edit as b-side to No More Blue Horizons 7″/12″. A bit confusing as the chorus goes watching over burning fields for a rising sun, while the song titled Watching Over Burning Fields (second b-side of the NMBH 12 inch) is a 6+ minutes instrumental ambient-ish track. You can hear the early influences from bands like OMD and Depeche Mode, a sound they would abandon after the first album.

3. The Gates Of Door To Door. (from the album Working With Fire And Steel. Possible Pop Songs Volume 2).

One of only two album cuts in this ICA, and another favourite. At the time of the release, the lyric part “She dreams of childhood, and I dream of her” was pretty on spot and the track has stuck with me as a soundtrack to any unanswered affection.

4. Trading In Gold (b-side to Arizona Sky, the first single from fourth album What Price Paradise.)

Produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley the sound builds on the more slick pop from the Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame produced third album Flaunt The Imperfection.

5. Scream Down At Me.

A stand-alone single, originally recorded for Inevitable Records who released the debut single African & White (later re-released by Virgin Records when they had signed CC). A cut aimed at dance floors, where it worked very well, but a path never really tried again (well, let’s see).

Side B:

1. African & White (Inevitable 12″ version)

So the very start for the band, released 1981, a rather basic drum machine driven track. The 7″ somehow found its way into the local record store of my then small Swedish hometown and that’s how I discovered them.

2. This Occupation 12″ version (b-side to Wishful Thinking 7″/12″)

Another style-wise offspring, I can only guess they had listened a couple of times to New Order’s Confusion released a couple of months earlier.

3. You Did Cut Me.

Third and last single released from Flaunt The Imperfection, which failed to repeat the Top 20 chart success of the two preceding singles. Still my favourite track from the album.

4. A Golden Handshake For Every Daughter (b-side to Tragedy & Mystery 7″/12″).

Very much a track of the Working With Fire & Steel era, and would have fit nicely on the album too.

5. Hampton Beach. (Album track from What Price Paradise)

We close with a soft ballad that I have for some reason always connected to the John Irving novel The Hotel New Hampshire. There is something comforting over this track I can’t really finger point, a nice closure to a nice ICA.

Admittedly not the usual jangly guitar pop often featured in this corner of the internet, still I hope you can enjoy some of it.



JC adds…….this was originally meant to appear on the blog last month, but was replaced by my tribute to Terry Hall. 



The above poster is the best illustration I could find that China Crisis are still on the go all these years later.  They’ve never featured before on TVV, and I can’t recall ever seeing too much about them on other similar natured blogs.  The reason they haven’t been part of this little corner of t’internet is down to my not having any of their music on vinyl or CD.  But I’ve gone out of my way to get some digital stuff to accompany these words, the next three paras of which come from all music:-

A bit fiery for most in the new romantic camp during the early ’80s, China Crisis were inspired by similar sources but injected their pop songs with occasional political commentary and bluesy reggae rhythms. Comprising the core duo of vocalist/keyboard player Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon, the group formed in 1979 near Liverpool, England.

The first China Crisis single, “African and White,” didn’t appear until 1982, but it was quickly picked up by Virgin Records and made the U.K. charts. With drummer Dave Reilly on board, their full-length debut, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, arrived later that year and also charted. Another single from the album, “Christian,” hit number 12. They recorded their follow-up LP, Working with Fire and Steel: Possible Pop Songs, Vol. 2, with bassist Gazza Johnson and new drummer Kevin Wilkinson. It reached number 20 in the U.K. as well as charting in Canada and across Western Europe. It also produced the Top Ten hit “Wishful Thinking.”

China Crisis’ third album, 1985’s Flaunt the Imperfection, was produced by the sympathetic Walter Becker (from Steely Dan), and resulted in the Top 20 singles “Black Man Ray” and “King in a Catholic Style.” The album was their first to crack the Billboard 200 in the U.S., and it hit the Top Ten in the U.K. and New Zealand. A year later, 1986’s What Price Paradise?, which featured Brian McNeill instead of Becker on synths, reached a career-high 114 in the U.S. but landed outside the Top 50 at home. China Crisis worked with Becker once more on 1989’s Diary of a Hollow Horse, which earned critical raves though not much commercial movement. It proved to be their final record with Virgin. Their sixth studio LP, Warped by Success, appeared on Stardumb Records in 1994 and was followed by numerous compilations, including Virgin’s China Crisis Collection: The Very Best of China Crisis (1997), and a long recording hiatus, though Daly and Lundon continued to tour on and off as China Crisis.

Like many others of their generation, China Crisis have become a staple of the nostalgia festival events in the UK and further afield. A seventh studio album, Autumn In The Neighbourhood, was released in 2015, again on Stardum Records, for which there was an extensive UK tour.   As well as performing in China Crisis, Gary Day has released some solo material, while Eddie Lundon teaches songwriting at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (which perhaps explains why the 2022 North American tour took place outside of term time in June and July).

Despite not being all that fond of the band’s music, I can say I’ve seen them play live at least once, and possibly twice.  I have vague recollections of them playing at the Student Union at Strathclyde University around the time African and White was in the charts, although I may well be mistaken.  I do recall seeing them as support act for Simple Minds at Tiffany’s in Glasgow in late 1982 when the Glasgow band were on the cusp of the huge breakthrough thanks to New Gold Dream.

I thought I’d go digging for the debut single from China Crisis, along with the four songs that took them into the Top 20 between 1983 and 1985.

mp3: China Crisis – African and White
mp3: China Crisis – Christian
mp3: China Crisis – Wishful Thinking
mp3: China Crisis – Black Man Ray
mp3: China Crisis – King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)

Sorry to say, the music still doesn’t do all that much for me.  But hopefully it’s of appeal to some readers.