China CrisisChina Crisis are an English new wave and synth-pop 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 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, and some minor chart successes in the Americas (particularly in Canada).
1979 – 1995: Foundation, early history, and mainstream successSharing an affection for Steely Dan, David Bowie, Brian Eno and Talking Heads, Gary Daly (born 5 May 1962, Kirkby, Liverpool) and Eddie Lundon (born 9 June 1962, Kirkby, Liverpool) 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 1981 they released their debut single "African and White" as China Crisis on the independent record label, Inevitable. In March 1982 they recorded a four song Peel session for the BBC. In June 1982, they backed Tom Verlaine at The Venue in London.
First successesThe 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 (as discussed in interviews on the DVD Live in Concert at the Paul McCartney Auditorium Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts).
Working with Fire and SteelAdding Gary "Gazza" Johnson (bass guitar) and Waterboys drummer Kevin Wilkinson 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 and Ireland, also entering the US Dance Club Songs chart. The album 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, beginning with their only UK Top 10 hit single, "Wishful Thinking", which peaked at No. 9.
Flaunt the Imperfection and mainstream successTheir 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. 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, reaching the Top 40 in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the Netherlands, etc. 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 but reached the Top 30 in Ireland. They simultaneously released a video compilation, Showbiz Absurd.
What Price ParadiseIn 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. All the band were now credited as songwriters. A second single from the album, "Best Kept Secret", made UK No. 36 in early 1987 and reached the Top 20 in Ireland. It was to be the band's final Top 40 hit single.
Diary of a Hollow HorseThe 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 most of the album's tracks, but this time was not credited as an official band member.
Warped by SuccessThe 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. The band was now once again a duo of Daly and Lundon, although Johnson and Wilkinson were both amongst the session musicians employed in the recording of the album. 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 brief return for Johnson, McNeill, and Wilkinson.
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.
1995 – 2014: Interim years and reduced activity
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 members Eddie Lundon and Gary Daly being constant throughout; the band alternates between performances either as a duo or with a fluctuating line-up of backing musicians, the most notable of which is Manx guitarist Colin Hinds who spent more than ten years with the band in the early 21st century.
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.
In 2013, the band toured 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.
In 2014, the band played another UK tour, culminating again in their annual Cavern Club shows. During those shows, they paid tribute to Nicky Lundon, brother of Eddie, who had worked extensively with the band, and who had died in that year. Their song "Wishful Thinking" was performed in his memory.
The band returned yet again to the Philippines in June 2014 for a show at Solaire Resort & Casino.
2014 – present: New album and later yearsOn 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. The band toured in late 2014, playing some tracks from the new album alongside older favourites. As of 5 February 2015, the band had achieved 235% of its Pledgemusic target and the album was in final mix and production.
Autumn in the Neighbourhood was released on 3 June 2015 via the Pledge Music website. It was their first studio album for 21 years, and contained 11 songs; however, the pre-release taster track, "Everyone You Know", was not included on the album. The band undertook an extensive promotional tour of the UK from the end of September until December 2015, both as a trio and as a full band. The tour included a special "Flaunt the Imperfection Live" night at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool on 17 October 2015 to mark the thirtieth anniversary of their 1985 album of that name. The band also played five nights in North America in December under the banner of "North America Merry Christmas Tour".
In November 2015, a compilation album, 80s Recovered, featuring many 1980s-related artists was released on the Music Brokers label. China Crisis contributed a cover of Carole King's "It's Too Late", with both a regular version and an extended remix.
In March 2017, China Crisis performed as part of the 80's Invasion Tour that included Toyah, Paul Young and Martika.
In July 2017, the band returned to the Philippines for a show at the Kia Theatre, alongside Peter Coyle of The Lotus Eaters.
Former China Crisis producer/band member Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017.
While China Crisis continue to tour the UK and play live dates, founder member Eddie Lundon teaches songwriting at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Frontman Gary Daly released his solo debut album Gone From Here in May 2019. Former China Crisis bassist Gary "Gazza" Johnson and keyboardist Brian McNeill both play on the album. In February 2020 Gary Daly released the solo album Luna Landings, a collection of instrumental recordings written between 1981 and 1987.