China Crisis is an English pop/rock band. They were formed in 1979 in Kirkby, near Liverpool, Merseyside with a core of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon. China Crisis were originally assimilated in the batch of new wave Liverpool acts of the late 1970s and early 1980s, led by OMD and also including Echo and the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, A Flock of Seagulls and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
China Crisis had moderate success in the United Kingdom in the 1980s with five Top 40 singles and three Top 40 albums, as well as commercial success in Western Europe, Australia and the Americas.
Sharing an affection for Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, David Bowie, and Brian Eno, Daly and Lundon played with various Knowsley post-punk groups. Daly then spent time tinkering with synthesizers and a drum machine. Along with Lundon, Daly began writing songs. The pair eventually asked drummer and percussionist Dave Reilly to join them, and in 1982 they released their debut single "African and White" as China Crisis on the independent record label, Inevitable. In June 1982, they backed Tom Verlaine at The Venue in London.
The band was signed to Virgin Records and recorded their debut album, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain, which was released in December 1982. A re-release of "African & White" became China Crisis' first hit in the United Kingdom, reaching No. 45 in the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up single, "Christian", made UK No. 12 in early 1983 and brought them to national prominence. By this time, Reilly had left the band, but was still credited on the record sleeve as a guest on the single, along with new member Steve Levy playing oboe and saxophone. The album peaked at No. 21 in the UK Albums Chart. During this period the band toured supporting Simple Minds (as discussed in interviews on the DVD Live in Concert at the Paul McCartney Auditorium Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts).
Adding Gary "Gazza" Johnson (bass) and Kevin Wilkinson (drums) to the line-up, a second album, Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two, was released in November 1983. Tracks included the singles "Tragedy and Mystery" (released six months earlier) and "Hanna Hanna" as well as the title track, "Working with Fire and Steel", which became a hit single in Australia. The album was a Top 20 success in the UK, and China Crisis spent 1984 and 1985 making their biggest chart run, beginning with their only UK Top 10 hit single, "Wishful Thinking", which peaked at No. 9.
Their third album, Flaunt the Imperfection, was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame and reached No. 9 in the UK Albums Chart in May 1985. China Crisis was so honoured to directly work with Becker that they officially listed him in the group as a quintet consisting of Daly, Lundon, Johnson, Wilkinson, and Becker on the album's credits. Becker was living on Maui, Hawaii, when he was approached by Virgin to work on this project, and he had to leave his expecting partner Eleanor to assist. He never formally appeared with the band (but made important playing contributions on the album) and the subsequent tour featured new keyboard player Brian McNeill. Johnson was now credited as co-writer with Daly and Lundon.
The album was promoted by the No. 14 UK hit single "Black Man Ray", which also enjoyed critical acclaim and international success. The follow-up, "King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)", was a Top 20 UK single at No. 19, but it would prove to be the band's last substantial hit. A third release from the album, "You Did Cut Me", stalled at UK No. 54. They simultaneously released a video compilation, Showbiz Absurd.
In 1986, the band collaborated with producers Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (who worked with Madness) on What Price Paradise, which included "Arizona Sky", the album's first single release, and another Australian hit, "June Bride". All the band were now credited as songwriters. A second single from the album, "Best Kept Secret", made UK No. 36 in early 1987. It was to be the band's final Top 40 hit single.
The five-piece band worked with Becker once more on 1989's Diary of a Hollow Horse, which earned critical acclaim though little commercial success. It fared slightly better than its predecessor, making the UK Top 60, and spawned the singles "St Saviour Square" and "Red Letter Day", both achieving the lower reaches of the UK Singles Chart. Becker produced of most of the album's tracks, but this time was not credited as an official band member.
The band's last studio album, Warped by Success, was released in 1994, following the band's parting of ways with the Virgin label. The album produced their final studio chart single, "Everyday the Same", which briefly edged into the UK Top 100. Although Johnson and Wilkinson both made small contributions, the band was now listed as comprising Daly, Lundon, producer Terry Adams and sound engineer Mark Phythian. In 1995 they released a live unplugged album and video entitled Acoustically Yours. This featured a live version of "Black Man Ray", and also saw a return for Johnson, Wilkinson and McNeill.
Since 1992, there have been four compilation albums of their work for the UK and US markets and three live DVDs. The first of these, entitled Collection: The Very Best of China Crisis, made the Top 40 in the UK Albums Chart in 1990.
On 17 July 1999, drummer Kevin Wilkinson committed suicide by hanging himself at the age of 41. Wilkinson had played with a wide variety of bands including The Waterboys, Fish, The Proclaimers, Squeeze and with Howard Jones. In 2000 Daly contributed a track to a tribute compilation to Wilkinson, Green Indians.
Since the late 1990s, China Crisis has concentrated on live performances with only original founder-members Eddie Lundon and Gary Daly being constant throughout, although a number of other musicians have served long spells, most notably guitarist Colin Hinds who spent more than ten years with the band.
In December 2002, China Crisis' Daly and Lundon held a one night unplugged venue in Manila, Philippines, with the support of a local band, Rivermaya. They toured the UK during January and February 2007 as part of their 25th anniversary. Gary Daly released his limited edition solo album ('The Visionary Mindset Experience') in 2007, featuring collaborations with Megan Kovacs (from the band Kovacs) and Jean Weir. In 2008, it was announced they would be the support act for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's UK October tour. In February 2009, the band performed a fund raising gig for The Friends of Meols Park.
Additionally, gigs were played at The Robin 2, Bilston, Wolverhampton on 20 February 2009, and in Stone, Staffordshire on 22 February 2009. Daly's art exhibition 'How To Live & Love Your Life' was held at Kirkby Art Gallery, Kirkby, Knowsley, Merseyside from 23 February to 10 May 2009. China Crisis played at Fort Perch Rock on the Wirral on 8 August 2009, and at the Rewind Festival in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on 22 August 2009. The same month they played at The Mathew Street Festival in Liverpool.
They returned to the Philippines to perform at Eastwood City on 20 January 2011 and played at the Rewind Festivals in Perth (Scotland) and Henley-on-Thames in August 2011. Another concert in the Philippines was held on 9 September 2011 at the SMX Convention Center, together with Ex-Simple Minds with further shows in the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong that followed. At recent shows China Crisis' two lead musicians have been joined by Siân Monaghan on drums.
In 2012, the band performed a series of shows in their native Britain, with shows in Upton-upon-Severn in August, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham and Middlesbrough in October, Glasgow and Gateshead in November, and finishing the tour at the Cavern Club, Liverpool in December.
2013 saw the band tour more extensively, playing dates in the UK and visiting the United States and Canada as a three-piece with Brian McNeil, before returning for more UK dates including their regular Cavern Club Christmas gigs, again held on a Thursday and Friday as a five-piece.
On 16 December 2013, the song "Everyone You Know" was made available as a free download on the Pledge Music website, when pre-ordering the album Autumn in the Neighbourhood announced for release in 2014. On 13 January 2014 the band posted an illustrated account of the track and how it was written and came to be recorded. 87% of the pledge goal had been reached at that time.
Ahead of the release of the new album, the track "Being In Love" was premiered on Steve Lamacq's BBC Radio 6 Music show on 25 April 2014.
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Image from Discogs