China Crisis – live in Madrid – January 5, 1984 – Radio Nacional España – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
China Crisis in concert to end the week. Recorded for Spanish radio on January 5, 1984. They formed in 1979 in Kirkby, near Liverpool, Merseyside with a core of vocalist/keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon. China Crisis were part of a wave of new Liverpool acts in 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.
Initially a politically charged post punk band influenced by Brian Eno’s ambient soundscapes China Crisis soon crossed over to a more commercial sound and had success in the United Kingdom in the 1980s with ten Top 50 singles (four of them reached the Top 20) and three Top 40 albums (two entered the Top 20 and received a Gold certification). The band also achieved commercial success in Western Europe (notably in Ireland and the Netherlands), Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, and some minor chart successes in the Americas (particularly in Canada).
The band were 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 and White” reached No. 45 in the UK Singles Chart in August 1982. The follow-up single, “No More Blue Horizons”, released in October 1982 had little success, but the single “Christian”, made UK No. 12 in early 1983 and brought them to national prominence. By the time of this success, Reilly had left the band, but had remained with the band long enough to co-write and perform on “Christian”, along with session musician 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 on their New Gold Dream tour.
Adding Gary “Gazza” Johnson (bass guitar) and Waterboys drummer Kevin Wilkinson to the line-up, the band, augmented by Steve Levy (oboe), premiered new songs, including “Wishful Thinking”, in a BBC Peel session in January 1983. In May the single “Tragedy and Mystery” was released and peaked at number 46 on the UK Singles Chart. The arrangement of the song with prominent use of Levy’s oboe and flugel horn marked a noticeable change from the band’s previous synth pop sound.
The band, again augmented by Steve Levy on oboe and saxophone on several tracks, recorded a second album, Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two, which was released in November 1983. Prior to the release of the album the title track, “Working with Fire and Steel”, was released as a single. While only a minor hit in the UK at number 48, it became a hit single in Australia and Ireland, also entering the US Dance Club Songs chart.
In early 1984 the single “Wishful Thinking” peaked at number 9 on the UK Singles Chart, making it their first and only UK Top 10 hit single. The song was also a Top 10 hit in Ireland, a Top 20 hit in several european countries and hit number 1 on the Swedish radio chart Poporama. In March 1984 the follow-up single “Hanna Hanna” reached number 44 on the UK singles chart.
The album itself was a Top 20 success in the UK, also reaching the Top 40 in several other countries (including Australia, Canada, etc.), and China Crisis spent 1984 and 1985 making their biggest chart run.
As a reminder – dive into this concert from 1984, right in the middle of their breakthrough period.