The early 1980’s heralded a second Liverpool-based musical renaissance responsible for producing not just new wave legends OMD, but also the diverse likes of Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, A Flock of Seagulls and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Amongst these lauded Merseyside acts was China Crisis, emerging in 1981 from their native Kirkby as the songwriting duo of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist / vocalist Eddie Lundon, who over the years have been accompanied by a gifted and creative but ever-mutable group of musicians both on stage and in their recordings. Citing influences as varied as Davie Bowie, Stevie Wonder and Eric Satie, it’s not entirely surprising that their sound was distinctive amongst their peers, often combining elements of jazz, reggae, country and other styles with their own unique melodies and harmonies. With their philosophy that “the song is the most important thing”, China Crisis didn’t just stretch the creative limits of the technology of the time, but incorporated horns, strings, woodwinds, pedal steel, and did whatever they sensed would serve to create the best possible outcome for a given song. The result of their effort was a clearly identifiable China Crisis sound that stood out from the crowd and garnered the band eleven UK Top 50 singles and three UK Top 40 albums, as well as considerable commercial success in Western Europe, ANZ, Southeast Asia, and the Americas.
That the China Crisis sound is enduring is demonstrable well into the 21st Century, not just through the continued fidelity of their longtime fans but the fact that a whole new generation of musicians and listeners are becoming China Crisis devotees. In 2015 Gary and Eddie released the seventh China Crisis studio album to great acclaim via the fan funded PledgeMusic marketplace, a work referred to as at once “adventurous and contemporary” and “intimate”, and a return to the band’s “heady” songwriting strengths. Meanwhile China Crisis classics have been sampled into modern singles by the likes of French Montana and Action Bronson, and the band’s songs have been chosen for use in contemporary cinema such as with the hit film Gone Girl and the immensely popular Sex Education on Netflix, all introducing their music to a whole new audience. Recently the band have undertaken extensive touring to mark the celebration of 4 decades of music-making, selling out shows throughout the UK as well as in the US and Canada, with more dates planned for Australia/New Zealand and Europe over the coming year. The band have just released their “40th Anniversary: Live from the Liverpool Philharmonic”, a lovingly produced live concert video from their inaugural 40th Anniversary show which features songs from every one of their albums (some never performed live), recorded in their hometown with an all-star 16-piece China Crisis band.
With a combination of truly engaging music, a good bit of Scouse humor, and the clear kinship the band have with their fans, any China Crisis show is one you leave happier for having been part of. Their live performances are truly must-see.