Keyboardist Gary Daly and guitarist Eddie Lundon emerged from the Merseyside overspill suburb of Kirkby and adopted the enigmatic name China Crisis. Having fulfilled an ambition in 1982 by playing in London with influential Television guitarist Tom Verlaine, they achieved another when they signed shortly afterwards with Richard Branson’s label, Virgin Records.
Recruiting bassist Gary ‘Gazza’ Johnson and drummer Kevin Wilkinson, the latter replacing original percussionist Dave Reilly, they entered the studio to cut debut album ‘Difficult Shapes And Passive Rhythms: Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain’. A track from it, ‘Christian’, became their first Top 20 hit single in early 1983. Their first two albums would be produced by Mike Howlett, a man whose background included an early line-up of the Police (as a musician) and hippie-rockers Gong. Early-1984 hit ‘Wishful Thinking’ was certainly very much in that mode. It reached Number 9, the only UK Top 10 single of their career, while the uptempo title track of the album from which it came, ‘Working With Fire And Steel’, failed to capture the imagination of the record-buying public anywhere but, curiously, in Australia. Bassist Walter Becker would helm two albums. In 1985 ‘Flaunt The Imperfection’ charted in the US Top 200. Back home, ‘Black Man Ray’ (Number 14) and ’King In A Catholic Style’ (Number 19) both made the singles chart.
But fate then played a part when, in January 1985, both Daly (arm) and Johnson (jaw) had limbs broken in an auto accident. Their first album after the mishap, ‘What Price Paradise’, made a disappointing Number 63 in the UK chart – a big comedown from ‘Flaunt’s encouraging Number 9 peak. ‘Hollow Horse’ headed back in the right direction in chart terms. When Virgin Records chose to retain Daly and Lundon but let the rest of the band go, they signed the death knell for China Crisis. A hits collection in 1990 ended the story, or so loyal fans who sent it into the Top 40 must have thought.
Sadly, drummer Kevin Wilkinson committed suicide in July 1999 at the age of 41. The following year saw Gary Daly contribute a track to a tribute compilation entitled ‘Green Indians’. While no more band recordings emerged, China Crisis continued to perform live with an ever-rotating cast, only founder members Lundon and Daly constant throughout. They remain active today.
Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It’s Fun to Entertain (1982)
Working with Fire and Steel – Possible Pop Songs Volume Two (1983)
Flaunt the Imperfection (1985)
What Price Paradise (1986)
Diary of a Hollow Horse (1989)
Warped by Success (1994)
Autumn in the Neighbourhood (2015)