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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » China (UK) - 1977 China
China (UK) - 1977 China

ARTIST: China (UK)
ALBUM: China
LABEL: Rocket Records
YEAR: 1977


LINEUP: Davey Johnstone - lead vocals, guitars, sitar, mandolin * James Newton Howard - oberhiem polyphonic synthesizer, keyboards * Cooker Lo Presti - bass * Roger Pope - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 On The Slide * 02 Meet Me Halfway * 03 Broken Woman * 04 Hametheme * 05 Savage * 06 Dear You * 07 One Way Ticket * 08 For A While * 09 Shameful Disgrace * 10 This Time It's For You

No, nothing to do with the other two groups calling themselves China that most melodic rock fans are probably more familiar with. Confused? Ok, let's clarify. Three quarters of these guys were Elton John's back-up band at some time or another reunited for a one-off that Captain Fantastic out the goodness of his heart signed to his own Rocket Records. Johnstone still had a paying gig with John when this was recorded, while drummer Roger Pope had found a home with Kiki Dee's band, although I'm pretty sure Presti, Elton's early bassist was unemployed at the time he was picked up for this session. James Newton Howard joined John's group of happy players following this record and went on to an illustrious soundtrack career. Looking back at his at his extensive catalog including his excellent 1974 progressive rock album which no one seems to know about, it's hard to imagine China was a highlight for Howard, Johnstone or anyone who dared buy a copy.

The Songs
So with that said and as you probably guessed I am not a huge fan of this record although by the time I bought this LP, the band had been over and done with for three years. Still, I had expected more from musicians of this caliber especially with Bernie Taupin contributing his god-like talents on a couple tracks. Some of the material does have an Elton John feel but these moments are too far and in between and when they do, it's partly due to Johnstone's unique guitar style. I do like 'One Way Ticket' on side two which does sound like something off 'Yellow Brick Road', but most of China's songs just seems to exist and lack any sort of excitement but again, I probably expected more from players living in the shadow of Elton John then they could possibly have delivered.

In Summary
Kudos for the creative artwork with track listings on front and back cover and looking very much like one of those highly sought after picture discs that were all the rage at the time.

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#1 | Harvey Mettle on May 27 2008 19:27:38
Martin Popoff describes this LP in his 'Collectors Guide to Heavy Metal Volume 1: The Seventies'.

'the music is adventurous guitar rock a bit like a poppy Hot Tuna, proggy and very general directions taken, but mostly upbeat with driving guitar although never in the thought space of heavy metal... y'know, one of those situations where non metalheads show sweeping dynamic, which necessarily takes them into this surprising loud realm where they are surprised but still go with it'.

Me, I got mine several years ago in a 5 LP's for a £1 sale and still thought i'd been ripped off!
#2 | reyno-roxx on May 27 2008 22:13:15
Martin has a way with words, doesn't he?!Grin
#3 | gdazegod on May 27 2008 22:32:53
The only thing Popoff got right IMO was heaping praise on Texan boogie merchants BLACKHORSE. Everything else is a pot pourri of personal idealisms not matched by many others in the industry. And now he runs Blabbermouth of all things! helpless
#4 | Eric on May 28 2008 00:14:53
Hardly 'Adventurous' and I won't go near the 'poppy Hot Tuna' comparison (???), but the guitar work is good as pointed out.
#5 | dangerzone on May 28 2008 02:15:11
I remember corresponding with Popoff some years back. He told me he wasn't very familiar with The Who. I don't think I took him seriously again after that.
#6 | Harvey Mettle on June 01 2008 12:12:56
I think he's OK, a little verbose and opinionated maybe, but aren't we all sometimes? I'll give him credit for coming up with the idea of the Collectors Guide books because I really enjoy them and I got a little credit in the 70's one. Describing the mighty PARIS debut as 'overblown 70's pop' is pretty unexcusable though.
#7 | mckagan on February 01 2010 03:16:04
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