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4.9 out of 5 stars
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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?
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on 3 April 2012
The re-mastering on this release is just extraordinary. The two discs are jam-packed with great tunes (app 78 minutes each), and just perfect for those of us who have been waiting far too long for some better-sounding CC discs. And what a price- I've had to spend more on take-away lunches, and gotten far less pleasure. You may have most of these tunes elsewhere, but trust me- they don't sound like this!Ultimate Crisis
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on 13 April 2012
I'm gonna gush here. I'll try to keep it short - what an injustice. To have the great likes of Squeeze, XTC, China Crisis, Kate Bush (of course there's more but that's enough for now) and to never have them gain a reputation worldwide as massive musical stars ..... and all off that little island....what is in that water.

Growing up in Nova Scotia wasn't always the greatest place to grow up for exposure to great pop....but we had an OK radio station - C100....it got a little loose and whacky on Fridays and Saturday nights. I enjoyed listening to the radio while doing homework - then a great melody would drift into my ears and I was frequently hooked...I think it was 'Wishful Thinking'....next day purchase was the 12" red vinyl with 'This Occupation' - and when I heard that I knew .....I was about to spend some good record money.

Former reviewers are all right, HUGE bang for the buck, remastered 'really' well - goosebumpily good. I was gonna hold out for the 2-disc editions of Difficult and Working but this will definitely hold me till then - wouldln't demo work from these guys sound great along with b-sides (can't wait to hear Greenacre Bay given this remastering thing). Too bad the book focuses so much on chart position - I learned a long time ago - the best music usually isn't popular.

Those first two albums and this cd I know I'll play on a regular basis - the remaining b-sides need to be released.
Hey Mr. EMI - you've done such a great job with this compilation why not just put out double cd issues of the albums...I'm discovering post Working singles while I'm listening to the old stuff - a brilliant release.
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on 24 March 2012
When people have asked me about injustices in the music industry, one of the first examples I cited was the failure of the group China Crisis to be an absolutely massive worldwide success. As I listen to this compilation now, many years after these songs were first released, I can't help wondering what went wrong with the marketing of the band by Virgin, their record company. They had such talent and their way with a melody and lyric put them head and shoulders above so many of their rivals. I won't go into every song here, but needless to say the omissions are as glaring as the choices but what can you do when you limit yourself to just a 2 CD Best Of. (True justice can only be served by buying their entire back catalogue).

This compilation should be made to be a compulsary purchase and if you're reading this and know little about the band, then jump in now and treat yourself. For well under a fiver you get some of the best music that came out of the 1980s. Fact!

Absolutely full marks to Demon Music, who put this album together and at such a modest price too.
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2012
This is by far the best compilation albums from one of Britain's most underrated and forgotten bands. China Crisis are simply brilliant and this release charts their career from their early releases such as Black Man Ray and Christian, right through to the end of their chart successes. The track listing includes all of their big singles, a selection of album tracks and even the odd forgotten b-side. This great release even comes with a short biography of the band in the linear notes. Fantastic value for money too!
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A British post-punk pop group who released their core catalog in the 1980's, CHINA CRISIS had a modestly successful career in their home country, but are probably best remembered in America outside a small core of fans (me included) for their connection to STEELY DAN. Walter Becker produced their third album Flaunt The Imperfection and was credited as a full band member. He also produced their fifth release DIARY OF A HOLLOW HORSE, but the label had the group re-do some tracks with Mike Thorne (WIRE, SOFT CELL). Both versions are now available on the 2013 two disc reissue. Lazy critics have also tagged the band a "British STEELY DAN," and although they both share intelligent lyrics, jazz-influenced compositions and crystal-clear production values, CHINA CRISIS are far from a DAN clone. With their liberal use of synthesizers, drum programming, melodic doubled vocals and a British lyric sensibility, CHINA CRISIS have carved their own special niche. ULTIMATE CRISIS, released in 2012 on the Music Club Deluxe imprint contains a selection of tracks from their first five releases along with five tracks of non-LP singles and B-Sides. The 34-track set is not ordered chronologically, so I've tried to make sense of what's-from-where below. The sound quality is excellent. Here's a rundown of the contents:

From the 1982 debut, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It's Fun To Entertain (UK #21). All songs written and performed by Gary Daly (vocals, synthesizer), Eddie Lundon (guitar, vocals) and Dave Reilly (drums, percussion):
- No More Blue Horizons (Fool Fool Fool) (Disc 2-Track 14)
- Some People I Know Lead Fantastic Lives (1-7)
- Christian (2-4)
- African & White (1-4)
- Red Sails (2-3)
From the 1982 non-LP single:
- Scream Down At Me (1-10)
- Cucumber Garden (2-8)
From 1983's Working With Fire & Steel (UK #20). All songs written and performed by Daly and Lundon, with Gary "Gazza" Johnson (bass guitar) and Kevin Wilkinson (drums, percussion). Additional musicians: Steve Levy (oboe, saxophone) and Gary Barnacle (flute):
- Working With Fire And Steel (1-2)
- When The Piper Calls (1-8)
- Hanna Hanna (1-3)
- Wishful Thinking (2-1)
- Tragedy And Mystery (1-5)
- The Soul Awakening (1-9)
From the B-Side of "Tragedy And Mystery:"
- A Golden Handshake For Every Daughter (1-15)
From the B-side of "Wishful Thinking:"
- This Occupation (12" version) (1-16)
From 1985's Flaunt The Imperfection (UK #9/US #171). All songs written & performed by Daly, Lundon & Johnson, with Wilkinson, Walter Becker (synthesizer, percussion) and Tim Renwick (all guitar solos):
- The Highest High (2-6)
- Strength Of Character (2-9)
- You Did Cut Me (2-7)
- Black Man Ray (2-2)
- Gift Of Freedom (1-11)
- King In A Catholic Style (Wake Up) (1-10)
- Blue Sea (2-15)
From The B-Side of "Black Man Ray:"
- Animalistic (1-12)
From 1986's What Price Paradise (UK #63/US #114). All songs written & performed by Daly, Lunden, Johnson, Wilkinson and Brian McNeill (synthesizer, vocals):
- It's Everything (2-17)
- Arizona Sky (1-6)
- Hampton Beach (2-11)
- Best Kept Secret (1-5)
- June Bride (1-14)
From 1989's Diary Of A Hollow Horse (UK #58). All songs written & performed by Daly, Lunden, Johnson, Wilkinson and McNeill:
- Saint Saviour Square (2-16)
- Diary Of A Hollow Horse (1-17)
- Red Sails (2-3)
- In Northern Skies (2-10)
- Back Home (1-13)

Other releases by CHINA CRISIS: Warped By Success (1994), Acoustically Yours - CD + Video (Limited Edition) (1995), Wishful Thinking (1998 budget 2CD set with 'Warped By Success" and "Acoustically Yours")
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on 7 July 2012
A quite good compilation. Missing some favourites but I guess there's no more space on 2 CDs. From the charming Christian to the choral St. Saviour Square, from the innovation of the first eighties to the conventionalism of a established band. This band defines very well how to make music in a traditional way with enough winks to the modern technology, in such a way you can't get any definitive conclusion about their style. Is it a conventional band like the ones from the sixties?. Is it an avant-garde band?. Is it a synth pop band?. Then, the songs are the only thing left here, and there are a lot of good songs on the two CDs.
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on 25 February 2015
I thought I knew China Crisis. Seems I was wrong. When I stumbled across this double disc c.d. it was like finding the Holy Grail. Where had all these great songs been hiding? The cover notes tell things as it is: this is Liverpool's most underrated band. Its not their fault. They also come across like a couple of your mates who have a band. Thats what makes them so appealing and accessible. When you see them live, they enjoy the gig just as much as their audience. Its not a chore its a laugh and a good night out. Can't wait to hear their first new album in 20 years.
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on 14 July 2012
China Crisis were one of my favourite bands of the 80's (and they remain so now). They combine great tunes with imaginative lyrics and soulful vocals. They should be picked up again by another major recording label, so that they can continue to create wonderful songs. This compilation is incredible value for money. Buy it.
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on 17 May 2012
This remastered CD is abs fab!! Its funny how you forget the songs and when you here them you know them word for word,songs with real meaning.
It takes you right back to the 1980's when they first began, China Crisis....please bring out a new album with more great songs....WE MISS YOU ....Maz in Glasgow xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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