"Highly and richly melodic, hook laden, catchy synth riffs and drums and guitar is only a sample of ways to describe this 1983 release from China Crisis. Crisis never received much air play statewise on regular top 40; it reached more of a main staple or cult new wave group status for college stations or pre-alternative album stations. Make no mistake, vocals are very Euro sounding though lead singer sang in English. There are slight resemblances to early Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, Oingo Boingo, Wang Chung yet China Crisis still had their own distinct sound or quality (more warmth than pizzaz).More dance oriented material for the early club goers of the 80's(but certainly no disco music). Track like When the Piper Calls is reminiscent Depeche Mode while the song Hanna Hanna has a Wang Chung feel before Wang Chung made it big ! There are a few tracks such as Here Comes A Raincloud with it's slow tempo and melancholy drum programmed-synth sound that can still convey a haunting-somber atmosphere with a violin sounding backdrop.Another treasure of a track is the smooth flowing Wishful Thinking with it's mid-tempo feel, calming vocals and wailing background sax work and acoustic/electric guitar ! This is a must have for any music collecting afficionados with an eclectic taste and a streak of nostalgia in them !...After 20 years one of the very few and best pop albums that has aged well..."
An 80's Dream
Sean Ee | Illinois, USA | 12/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Winters here in a snow white haze, fires burning brightly in the night" ooooooh the hair at the nape of my neck stands-the album is awesome and creates an ambience like no other. Original-and unlike today's music the songs here are subtle with the power to move."
Superior 80's pop record
ABlanchard@Genzyme.com | Boston | 06/25/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of my most listened-to records of all time. Every song is amazing; often utilizing trumpets, flutes, and oboes (to beautiful emotional effects). This record received no airplay (even in the 80's), I couldn't find it on CD until now."
Very under-appreciated, valuable album
Mike | Canada | 08/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is China Crisis moving beyond the sparse synth-pop of "Difficult Shapes & Passive Rythyms" (which I also highly recommend) into a many-layered "complexification" of sounds and images. It resonated with me instantly when I first heard it in 1983, and can still do so today. There are pioneering uses of synthesizers into pop music here that offer the listener an avenue into something *very* different than the top-40 stuff going on at the time.
Interestingly, unlike another similar seminal work in the same period, "New Gold Dream" by Simple Minds, at times the album is tinged by the band's politics (as they're English, the message is subtle but clearly anti-Thatcher). But any political message is subsumed by the use of melody that, like "New Gold Dream", paints a beautiful picture and sends you somewhere else for a moment. In other words, the lyrics and music work hand in hand, not distracting from each other. It's not as subdued as the Simple Minds album, but still works.
The title track is actually the hardest hitting, musically and lyrically of the lot, and I can grow tired of it. But "When the Piper Calls", "Wishful Thinking" and "Soul Awakening" are better examples of what the album is trying to do. For the most part, the album's individual pieces work extremely well on their own, though perhaps a little less so together, hence me giving it only 4/5 stars. Better to be a little stingy!
It's too bad that this album was largely neglected in the U.S. when it was released. Perhaps that explains the difficulty in getting a non-import (i.e. cheaper) version as some of the other reviewers have noted. In Canada, it developed considerable success, though not quite to UK levels (where the band is from). Thanks for reading."