Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hidden Gems On My MP3 Player: China Crisis

BLACK MAN RAY - CHINA CRISIS



Are we believing,
Black Man Ray?
Persuasive danger,
In everything you say

Great stuff. Great tune. It's one of those songs that the moment you'll hear it you'll say, "Oh, so that's what that song's called!" And then you'll be insistent that it's not China Crisis, it's OMD. And you'll be wrong. But not to fret, you won't be the only one in that little boat.

Funnily enough this wasn't their biggest hit by far, but I'd hazard a guess and say that it's the best remembered. Certainly where I am it's virtually the only China Crisis song played on the radio. In fact I can't think of any other song by this band that gets any airplay whatsoever - perhaps in other countries, but certainly not here. And that's a shame. The song itself is one of those tracks that's often called 'haunting', and deservedly so. It's a beautiful piece of music, very understated and with excellent harmonies. Try as I might I can't get sick of it and I can't find a flaw with it. Damn! Oddly enough each time I hear it I can remember the day that a girl I was deeply in love with at a very young age decided to tell me that not only was it all over, but that she'd also been sleeping with a family friend. As such her family were overjoyed, not only was I dead in the water but they were collectively thrilled that she had finally hooked up with someone that they'd not only welcomed into their house, but encouraged into her bed. Broke my little heart, but not to fret, a band-aid and a romp with some slapper who found me drunk in a nightclub soon fixed all of that and I was back to making sobbing phone calls fueled by copious amounts of Tequila alternating between, "But, I lurve you! Please take me back!!! WAAAAAHHHHHH" and, "BITCH!!!" shortly after. If pressed, actually even if not pressed, I'll freely admit that the opening few bars do bring back that crushing feeling that I felt then and in a way it's a good reminder of young lust gone wrong. Still, considering what happened to her after that I guess it's a good reminder (hey - she's still alive, so it wasn't anything too bad, let's just say that she discovered pies and leave it to your imagination). Indeed some of my exploits as a youngster might make for a halfway decent retro teen flick. If anyone's interested in optioning the film rights I'll get right to work and begin writing. It'd have a great soundtrack.

China Crisis never achieved the global success that a lot of their peers did. It might have something to do with album titles - just try walking into a store in 1981 and asking for an album titled Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms: Some People Think It's Fun To Entertain. Or Working With Fire & Steel : Possible Pop Songs - Volume 2. Insane. Thus I doubt that album sales were what they could have been. A lot of their relative failure could be put down to the success of Orchestral Maneuvers In The Dark, or OMD to you. The problem was that China Crisis sounded a little bit too much like OMD at times and you'd expect that people gravitated to the latter, especially when they got their legs up due to John Hughes and his now cult teen flick Pretty In Pink. Indeed if you listen to music like Enola Gay, Tesla Girls or even If You Leave and then throw on a CC album you'll be hard pressed to tell them apart.

China Crisis still exist. Nothing wrong with that. Indeed I applaud it. They toured the UK as late as last year. If anyone who reads this went and saw them then by all means, do share, how were they? Sadly they lost their drummer in 1999 when he did an Ian Curtis, but then nobody's perfect. But this song is. Almost perfect that is.

No comments: