China Crisis: Wishful Thinking GER. 12″ 
- Wishful Thinking
- Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives
- This Occupation [ext. mix]
- Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives [ext. mix]
I first heard about China Crisis when they were the opening act for Simple Minds’ UK New Gold Dream tour in 1982. I first heard them when I caught a glimpse of the video for “Working With Fire + Steel” on MTV’s London Calling and from that point on, I bought all I could find. When I couldn’t find more, I resorted to mail order. I always liked the group’s wimpiness. But, as I was fond of saying “it was a bold wimpiness.” In other words, China Crisis were secure and even emphatic in their mild-mannered artistic temperament.
This single is one of my all time favorites by the group in that the A-side is sweetly melancholic and unapologetically gorgeous, with a wonderfully played synthetic string section sweeping the tune along. Other tracks on the album this single is from have live strings, but I guess the recording budget didn’t extend that far. The synth strings still sound rather good and more importantly, the addition of oboe and fretless bass, two of my favorite instruments, on this track lends it a gentle nobility that carries it far above the sound of the crowd in the charts at the time of its release.
Better still, this single is packed with great B-sides! The frisky “Some People I Know To Lead Fantastic Lives” is a great LP cut from the group’s previous album, “Difficult Shapes + Passive Rhythms [Some People Think It’s Fun To Entertain].” The “Wishful Thinking” 12″ has this cut added as well as a tastefully extended Steve Power mix on the flip side. Given that I always felt that it should have been an A-side to start with, having the 12″ version feels like a validation. The tone of the song makes it a good match with the A-side. The other B-side offers some contrast to this program of warm melodies.
“This Occupation [extended mix]” is an anomaly in the China Crisis canon; and therefore, a track to be cherished for its contrary qualities. China Crisis were never a flashy, aggressive, dancefloor beast. Except on this track! More than anything else it’s redolent of my beloved mid period Cabaret Voltaire sound. In fact, that I mistakenly typed “This Fascination” at the start of this paragraph pretty much says it all. This cut has a much more aggressive bass sequencer riff forming its foundation with uncharacteristically loud synthetic industrial percussion overlaid on it. The vocals have been cut up in the classic Cab Volt style to echo and repeat rhythmically. The song has been rendered more abstract than the 7″ mix on the B-side of the “Wishful Thinking” 7″ single. It’s a magnificent electro sound and Steve Power’s remix takes it to new places on the China Crisis map. Its inclusion on this single adds necessary spice to what would otherwise be a possibly stultifying program of passionate gentility. Having taken its place in the single, it elevates the entire package considerably; making it my favorite China Crisis single overall.
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