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Singing The Praises Of Finer Things
on 13 March 2012
Thirty years? Has it really been that long since I bought that green 12" single of African and White with my saved up dinner money? Sorry, Mum.
As most of us will testify bands drift in an out of our lives and we have a mad splurge on a particular artist and lose interest again. Thirty years ago I would say my music taste was pretty eclectic. Kraftwerk, Bill Nelson, YMO, Pete Shelley, Paul Haig, OMD, the Chinas, of course. While all those artists are still very much a part of my life there have been a few casualties along the way...did I really used to like DAF? What was I thinking!?
I've stayed in touch with the band over the years though as have seen them more times than I can remember. I particularly have fond memories of their residencies in Ronnie Scotts' in Birmingham in the mid-90s.
Anyway, onto Ultimate Crisis. It's a nice package considering it was less than a fiver, a thin but informative booklet and some nice imagery. The music, of course, is five star, how could it not be?
The thing I always liked about China Crisis was their progression from their experimental early years (Performing Seals, Be Suspicious, etc) to their big band days of Diary Of A Hollow Horse. Every album was different. Difficult Shapes was fresh and exciting, Fire and Steel; political pop and Flaunt the Imperfection, the ultimate pop album for me was...Steely Dan...with shimmering, hummable pop songs. What Price Paradise carried on the mantle, though less so with their final Virgin album, Diary Of A Hollow Horse. I'll do a separate review of that so won't drone on about it too much here.
This compilation gives a nice balance to counterweight the genuine hits of Christian Catholic Style, Wishful Thinking and Black Man Ray. There are some lesser known but equally classy singles, You Did Cut Me, Blue Horizons, Best Kept Secret, Scream Down at Me, etc. A smattering of choice album cuts, Blue Sea, It's Everything and some b-sides, which is a nice touch as these haven't been available on CD since the limited double-CD version of The Collection back in 1990. Some of my favourites aren't on here - The Understudy, Wall Of God, Temptation's Big Blue Eyes, It's Never Too Late, Sweet Charity - but trying to knock down their back catalogue for a 34 track double is no easy task. Also, this compilation only covers their Virgin years so you won't (unfortunately) get to hear anything from the excellent Warped By Success album released in 1994.
This is a great CD and well worth having for three reasons: 1) It's China Crisis for God's sake!, 2) it's cheap, and 3) those gorgeous b-sides. However, it's a shame that all China Crisis seem to be worth now are new best of compilations every few years.
Their albums really are brilliant and it would be nice if Virgin could take the opportunity, as they have with other bands in their back catalogue (OMD for example), to re-master those albums complete with b-sides and extended versions. There are so many tracks that some fans might not get the opportunity to hear now: Dockland, Forever I and I, Little Italy, Greenacre Bay, 96.8, It's Never Too Late, etc. I can only dream of having double-CD versions of those albums. If Edsel can do it for pap like the Thompson Twins then surely Virgin can do it for CC? Maybe one day, eh?
Finally: Garry, Eddie. I maybe a 46 year old Dad, married with kids, but I love ya!
Don't ever give up, will you?