Was it wishful thinking, or did China Crisis know they would be kings, in a Catholic style?
Liverpool mates Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon, both born in 1962, formed what would become China Crisis in 1979. They added percussionist Dave Reilly to the line up in 1981 and singed to Inevitable Records. The trio released their debut single, “African And White” in October that year. While it and the follow up, “Scream Down At Me”, were not commercial successes, they did get noticed and singed to Virgin Records in 1982 to release their debut album. A remix of “African And White” came out in the Spring of 1982 and reached No.45 in the UK but again the follow up, “No More Blue Horizons (Fool, Fool, Fool)”, was a flop. The group’s debut album was the uniquely titled “Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain” and came the following month!
The album would eventually make No.21 and gain a Silver certification, but only after the final single, “Christian”, gave the group a long awaited top 40 hit when it reached No.12 in early 1983. By then China Crisis added a fourth and fifth member with Gary Johnson and Kevin Wilkinson to the line up and were working on new material, which arrived very soon after in the form of “Tragedy And Mystery”, which made the top 50 in the UK as did “Working With Fire And Steel”, which would later break the US Dance chart. Both were taken from yet another imaginatively titled album, “Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two”. The album would produce what would ultimately become the band’s best known and biggest git with “Wishful Thinking”, which peaked at No.9 at home and would break the charts across Europe and in Australia.
The album itself would attain a Gold certification in the UK and became a very small hit in America. Dave Reilly departed the band to be replaced by Brian McNeill, and following the release of “Hanna Hanna”, China Crisis were back in the studio for album number three and in March 1985, delivered “Black Man Ray” as the lead single, which would give them a third top twenty hit back home as well as across Europe. “Flaunt The Imperfection” followed that Spring and would become the group’s highest charting album yet making the top ten in the UK and gaining another Gold certification. It was also a slightly bigger hit across the Atlantic. The album would yield a second top twenty hit with “King In A Catholic Style”, while “You Did Cut Me” and “The Highest High” did not! The band went on tour with Simple Minds and relentlessly went back into the studio to record album number four, that would emerge in 1986.
The lead single, “Arizonia Sky” missed the UK top 40 in late 1986 but the follow up, “Best Kept Secret”, did go as far as No.37. These were the only two tracks from “What Price Paradise?” which would not emulate its predecessors and gain any sales certification, although it gave China Crisis a new US album chart high of No.114. 1989’s “Diary Of A Hollow Horse” would be the last time the group worked as a five piece in its present form. The album and singles “Saint Saviour Square” and “Red Letter Day” we all flops and following a best of in 1990, China Crisis left Virgin Records. The 1990’s were lean years as Daly and Lundon continued mostly as a duo, releasing the album “Warped By Success” in 1994 and briefly going on tour with Gary Johnson and Kevin Wilkinson the following year. As a duo, China Crisis continued to play live into the 21st century and with the 80’s coming back into fashion again, they recorded the album “Autumn In The Neighbourhood” in 2015, their first for over twenty years.
2022 saw the release of two compilations of B sides and later on demo tracks from the group’s earlier years. Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon continue, with able support, to keep the China Crisis name alive and often pop up at 80’s revival festivals. Sadly, Kevin Wilkinson died in 1999 aged just 41 having committed suicide, with producer Walter Becker passing in 2017 aged 67, but Gary D and Eddie remain wishful thinkers as do their many fans who continue to support them and play the songs that only they were able to create and record.
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