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China (USA) - 1981 China

ALBUM: China
SERIAL: FE-37633
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2001, Sony (Japan), ESCA-7866


LINEUP: Chris Kearney - vocals * Danny McBride - vocals, guitars * Bill King - vocals, keyboards * Dennis Conway - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 You Can't Treat Love That Way * 02 Runnin' Around * 03 Fast Livin' * 04 There Was A Time * 05 Shootout In The Parking Lot * 06 Never Gonna Let You Go * 07 Roll Me Over * 08 Little Dancer * 09 Come And Take My Love * 10 Days And Nights

Not to be confused with the popular Swiss melodic rockers from the late eighties, this version of China came out about ten years earlier and were from (hazard a guess) Los Angeles instead, though Kearney and McBride have Canadian origins. This outfit dabbled in the west coast style mainly, and featured, like the recent Lazy Racer review, three lead vocalists who share the duties among them. The band was put together by transplanted Canadian Chris Kearney, while all the other names above had careers before this, releasing solo albums and/or playing with notable other acts/artists. A popular guest-list for this album, including the usual cast of L.A sesison suspects: Lee Ritenour, Jay Graydon, Mike Baird and Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter among others. So it would not be unusual to plant this album in the same ballpark as the likes of Airplay, Airborne and Sneaker, considering the Graydon, Baird and Baxter contribution.

The Songs
The opener 'You Can't Treat Love That Way' is a gentle melodic way to wind into the album. Fans of Frankie Bleu and Robbie Dupree would appreciate the nuances of this track. Bill King takes the lead on 'Runnin' Around', his style very similar to Michael Stanley. 'Fast Livin' is not dissimilar to a racier Sneaker while the big ballad 'There Was A Time' has so much of the Doobie Brothers written all over it, with Michael McDonald era harmony vocals taking precedent. 'Shootout In The Parking Lot' touches on commercial southern rock a la Henry Paul Band or Alabama and is quite good as a result. 'Never Gonna Let You Go' has a funky/disco type beat happening, but is still very laid back. It continues through into 'Roll Me Over' where King's distinctive vocal appears again. The guitars get decidedly edgy on 'Little Dancer', similar to Barry Bailey's guitar work with Atlanta Rhythm Section. 'Come And Take My Love' is probably the only track I didn't like, but the album ends with the excellent 'Days And Nights', an Airplay soundalike if you ask me!

In Summary
A pretty good west coast effort all round, but the differing sounds due to the lead singer shuffling, does make it an uneven listen, though you do get used to it. Appreciate that this album comes from a bygone era, but for what its worth, I just love listening to this stuff, particularly in the car! The China album was reissued in 2001 by Sony for the Japanese market, an album no doubt appreciated by the Japanese more than most I would say. If you find a copy, I'm sure you'll come to enjoy it in time.

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#1 | englandashes on June 09 2012 22:00:48
Yep, I managed to pick up a copy of the Jap version, it has a totally different cover, how can I explain it, well, its like the Jack Magnet cover, but without the forks and has a female on the cover.

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