CHINA CRISIS: Reason #528 Why The ‘80’s Didn’t Suck
I can vividly remember waking up for Christmas morning in 1983 and un-wrapping the China Crisis’ debut album. I think it was paired with Reach The Beach by The Fixx. My aunt, from that year onward, would always give me LP’s for my X-Mas present, and I still do not know to this day how she managed to give me one’s I actually liked. My folks sure as heck didn’t tell her what to buy or else I would’ve received The Statler Brothers or maybe even Stars On 45. Regardless, I am awfully glad she did. That China Crisis album with the weird title (Difficult Shapes and Passive Rhythms Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain), in addition to the next one, also with a weird title (Working With Fire And Steel: possible Pop Songs Vol 2) has stayed with me ever since. You want to know what they sound like? I’d suggest you pick up a copy of Kaputt by Destroyer.
They were labeled new wave, of course, but they were so much more sophisticated and cerebral than most of the bands that were popping up around that time.
The first album (don’t make me type that title again!) was full of brilliant pop songs Upbeat grooves—Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives and Are We A Worker– sit comfortably next to beautiful low key numbers like the beautiful Christian.
As wonderful as that record is, the follow up beats it by a mile. It contained 3 alternative singles in the spastic title track, the atypical ballad Wishful Thinking and horn laden Tragedy and Mystery. It’s a corker, and one of the true lost classics of the decade.
I’ll admit that the next album, the economically titled Flaunt The Imperfection, made me give up my crusade. It had some great tracks (Black Man Ray and King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up)), but sounded a little too close to AJA-era Steely Dan. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the album was, in fact, produced by Walter Becker.
As far as I’m aware the band released albums up until 1994, in addition to a string of compilations and live outings. But the real gems are those first 2 albums. Nothing sounded like ‘em back them and nothing sounds like ‘em today.