China Crisis

Scrap Book, Vol. 1: Live at the Dominion Theatre

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There is no more information about this album than the one revealed by its title: live at the Dominion Theatre. All right, but when? And with whom? No lineup is given. As for the date, the press release states 2001 -- a good thing, since looking at the booklet, filled with photos and press clips from China Crisis' first years (the early '80s), you couldn't guess. Obviously this is not a continuous performance; some edits between tracks are a bit crude, and only the group's early songs have been kept. The set list comprises three cuts from the debut LP Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms, Some People Think It's Fun to Entertain (1982), three more from the 1983 follow-up Working with Fire and Steel Possible Pop Songs, Vol. 2, and a whooping eight (out of ten!) from Flaunt the Imperfection (1985), generally considered to be their finest achievement. So no doubt that "Vol. 1" means a second disc will cover the material from What Price Paradise onward. Eighties pop music usually finds the shift from studio to live difficult, and this album makes no exception. The subtlety of studio production is lost in the arena, the synthesizers and drum machines sounding even colder. So a live album relies completely on the familiar melodies. Most songs are performed skillfully, but in arrangements sticking very close to the originals. Dedicated followers will probably appreciate, but casual listeners can stick to the studio albums without fear of missing on something.

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