Want List: China Crisis – Diary Of A Hollow Horse DLX RM

Cherry Red Records | UK | 2xCD | 2013 | SFE024D

Cherry Red Records | UK | 2xCD | 2013 | SFE024D

China Crisis: Diary of A Hollow Horse UK DLX RM 2xCD [2013]

Disc 1: Original Album

  1. St. Saviour Square [original Walter Becker version]
  2. Stranger By Nature
  3. Sweet Charity In Adoration
  4. Day After Day
  5. Diary Of A Hollow Horse
  6. Red Letter Day [original Walter Becker version]
  7. In Northern Skies
  8. Singing The Praises Of Finer Things
  9. All My Prayers [original Walter Becker version]
  10. Age Old Need
  11. Back Home
  12. St. Saviour Square (Extended 12” Mike Thorne Mix)
  13. Diary Of A Hollow Horse (Acoustic Version)
  14. All My Prayers (Extended 12” Mike Thorne Mix)
  15. Red Letter Day (Bazilington Dj Vibe Mix)

Disc B: Bonus Tracks

  1. St. Saviour Square (Mike Thorne Re-recorded Version)
  2. Red Letter Day (Mike Thorne Re-recorded Version)
  3. All My Prayers (Mike Thorne Re-recorded Version)
  4. St. Saviour Square (Band Demo)
  5. Stranger By Nature (Band Demo)
  6. In Northern Skies (Band Demo)
  7. Sweet Charity And Adoration (Band Demo)
  8. Diary Of A Hollow Horse (Band Demo)
  9. Singing The Praises Of Finer Things (Band Demo)
  10. All My Prayers (Band Demo)
  11. Red Letter Day (Band Demo)
  12. Age Old Need (Band Demo)
  13. St. Saviour Square (Live Session)
  14. All My Prayers (Live Session)

When it came to reissuing the oeuvre of China Crisis in DLX RMs, I would have hardly believed that the program wouldn’t begin and end with the first three Virgin albums; possibly starting with “Working With Fire + Steel.” So paint me a funny color and set me on the sidewalk near the curb; the first such beast unleashed on the awaiting world is the band’s Virgin swansong; definitely their worst selling outing for the label! I liked that 1989 album quite a bit on its release. It was my favorite of theirs since “Fire + Steel.” I was never a big fan of “Flaunt The Imperfection.” I liked “What Price Paradise” moreso, but this one seemed to hit the marks much better for me.

Like the “Imperfection” album, it was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan, but it wasn’t as MOR as the worst of “Flaunt The Imperfection” was. The songs were less faceless and the production by Becker finally worked for me. Strangely, enough, three tracks were produced not by Becker. The two singles [“St. Saviour Square” and “Red Letter Day”] in addition to “All My Prayers,” were instead the handiwork of Mike Thorne. I didn’t think too hard about this at the time; especially since I like Mike Thorne’s production quite a bit! But it’s now been revealed that Becker had in fact produced the entire album and one can presume that A+R interference from Virgin accounted for the re-recording of the three songs by Thorne.

So what is apparently driving the re-issue of “Diary Of A Hollow Horse” instead of the band’s best sellers for Virgin is this issue! The Cherry Red version now on the market reflects the original album as recorded by Becker with healthy handfuls of bonus tracks. The two singles had a B-side each [“Back Home,” “Diary Of A Hollow Horse acoustic version”] and “St. Saviour Square” was the only extended version released. The original CD added “Back Home” as a final bonus track as it appears here. The other two mixes have been appended, but tracks 14 and 15 are previously shelved mixes that never previously got an airing; nice!

Disc two of the set begins with the three Thorne produced cuts, which have been displaced from the original album, and then adds the band demos for almost the entire album and a pair of BBC sessions that dated to the album period. Perhaps overkill, in the inclusion of the demos, but I’ve not heard them yet, so I’ll reserve judgement for when the discs sit in my Record Cell. This project gets the nod simply for its attention to detail in bringing the album as Becker and China Crisis intended to market! How many times has record label meddling resulted in this sort of tomfoolery? And how rare is it that history vindicates the band? It’s one thing for the original mix of “Let It Be” reach the public ears, but China Crisis? Color me shocked… but pleased.

– 30 –

P.S. Tracks 13 and 14 on Disc 2 remind me that they are the only China Crisis BBC sessions to reach the public ear. Will we ever get to hear the rest of these?

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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7 Responses to Want List: China Crisis – Diary Of A Hollow Horse DLX RM

  1. Echorich says:

    YES!!! Something more to add the growing list of wonderful releases this year!! As you know I can’t find fault with any of CC’s output. I am a diehard Flaunt The Imperfection fan and as I can understand the thought that some of the tracks seem MOR, I really love the album as a complete work. Paradise is a briliant record as well. In Northern Skies and the title track are especially wonderful. I really love the Mike Thorne contributions and have always thought they sounded much brighter and possibly an afterthought – makes much more sense in the context of this release.
    I have to give it to Cherry Red releasing the last first…whets the appetite certainly.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Yes, it’s positively avant garde of Cherry Red to lead with a band’s lowest seller for a remaster program! So please, China Crisis fans, vote with your dollars. The one I need to buy is in fact “Flaunt The Imperfection,” since my copy has bronzed very badly and I don’t believe that PDO is still replacing bad pressings.

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  2. Hi! First up it’s always good to see the concept of re-issuing the China Crisis back catalogue being promoted. I really hope they do release all the Virgin albums with 12″ versions and bonus tracks sooner rather than later…
    I just wanted to offer a correction – Walter Becker produced Flaunt The Imperfection; Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced What Price Paradise.
    When Flaunt was first released I never really took to it, after virtually wearing out my vinyl LPs of Difficult Shapes and Fire & Steel . Over the last few years I ‘discovered’ Steely Dan so coming back to Flaunt was a revelation and on reflection is easily China Crisis’ most consistent album…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Colin – Thanks for joining us! Good to have you here. It’s nice to meet CC fans as we feel like a sub-cult in the larger scheme of things. Thanks for the correction. I tend to get a bit hasty as I hammer these posts out during my lunch hour and the brain is trying to work at a feverish pace. I was aware of Steely Dan but never was a huge fan; hence my distance from “Flaunt The Imperfection” to this day. I really disliked Steely Dan as a child. Hearing the hits on the radio was not appealing at all to me, but in my adolescent years, I came to actually buy “Aja” and “Gaucho” as I enjoyed the jazz leanings. In the 90s I was sharing an office with a gent who had “Citizen Steely Dan” and it was at that time that I developed the taste for the early material, which I now enjoy a lot more than the last two contiguous Dan albums! The only thing I herd that Becker + Fagen did post-1982 was the Rosie Vela album, “Zazu!” Even so, I sold that off in the 90s. I’ve not heard the first note of any Fagen or Dan albums of the last 20 years. You mention that “Flaunt The Imperfection” is their most consistent album for you and that alerts me to the fact that I really value eclecticism in my favorite bands. When they make albums that cohere, I tend to value them less than ones that don’t. I’m still a fool for “Fire + Steel.” I doubt I’d be the CC fan that I am without that one. The oboe just kills me on that one. Excellent bass playing as well.

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      • Yeah, pop music featuring oboe – a rare thing indeed :) I’m also a sucker for the bass, and we were certainly spoiled in the 80s. Most music I came to love back then probably hooked me first with the bass line, and CC are no exception, from the fretless work on Christian through to the bass breakdown on Tragedy and Mystery. Oddly, I own a cassette of Zazu which I’ve almost never played and had no idea it was Dan-related! Must revisit that one… I hear you on the eclectic – my fave (ie the only one I own) Squeeze album is Sweets From A Stranger and most reviews criticise the more ‘odd’ experimental songs, but I would miss the album without them. Thanks for the welcome! Your word cloud has many artists I am a fan of (or should be). :)

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Colin – Aaaah, bass playing in the 80s. Don’t get me started on my favorite bass player; Derek Forbes of Simple Minds! Oops! Too late! I’m a bigger Simple Minds fan now than I was when I started buying their records in 1981 because I’ve had 32 years to absorb those Forbes bass lines until I can almost not hear anything else in their music today.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Colin – I daresay that the oboe is my favorite instrument… period. As much as I love synths and bass, I just can’t top the dignified sound of an oboe.

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