Wednesday, March 18, 2015
CHINA SKY: ”II”
Label: Escape Music 2015
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
China Sky released their first album back in 1988. It got some glowing reviews in the ”important” magazines such as Kerrang! and Raw and the singles received airplay, but due to several factors, the band broke up merely a couple of months after the release. The album became one of these hard-ro-find ”cult classics”, setting Ebay on fire whenever there were CD copies of it available.
The band members weren’t really aware of the album’s cult classic status until a few years ago fans started to contact them via internet. Realizing that there might be a second chapter to be written to the band’s story, vocalist Ron Perry and bassist Richard Smith decided to give it another go. Original guitarist Bobby Ingram is now a full-time member of Molly Hatchet, but the band found a good replacement in Steve Wheeler. Originally the band had been a trio with stand-in members on drums and keys, but now they wanted to make it a full band, recruiting Tim McGowan to keyboards and drummer Bruce Crump, the original Molly Hatchet drummer.
On their website, the band says that they are ”taking the band in the direction we had originally intended” with the second album. After playing these tracks for a few times it seems that the direction is towards the seventies, away from the glossy sounds of the debut. It’s still melodic rock, but not quite as immediate and punchy as on the debut. I hear traces of Kansas, Journey, Uriah Heep and even Billy Joel in these songs.
The first song released from the new China Sky was ”One Life”, a good mid-tempo AOR with a strong chorus. A wise decision, as it doesn’t sound that far removed from the style of the debut. Had the band re-introduced themselves with one of the more ”left-field” tracks of the new album, the interest might not have been too high. The semi-progressive ”Dreams I’ll Never See” or the Billy Joel-like ballad ”The Richest Man In The World” could have been shockers for the band’s longtime fans.
All in all, ”II” isn’t a bad album and there are a lot impressive things on it. I actually like Ron Perry’s vocals more now than on the first album, and the band’s backing vocal arrangements are quite excellent. However, I’m not too crazy about the hammond-style organ sounds which drag the songs to the seventies constantly. The songs itself are the reason why my rating isn’t any higher - some of them are just not too memorable.
Highlights: ”One Life”, ”You’re Not Alone” and ”The Darkness”.
As I was writing this review, the sad news of Bruce Cramp’s passing reached the RockUnited office. We send our condolences to his family, friends and the band.