Released by: Escape Music Ltd
Release Date 20th February 2015
Genre: Hard Rock
Ron Perry – vocals
Steve Wheeler – guitar
Richard Smith – bass
Bruce Crump – drums
Tim McGowan – keyboard
01 – One Life
02 – The Road Not Taken
03 – You Are Not Alone
04 – I Believe In You
05 – I Wish I Could Fly
06 – Enemy
07 – I’m A Survivor
08 – The Richest Man In The World
09 – You Will Get Yours
10 – The Darkness
11 – Give It Up
12 – Dreams I Will Never See
So, 27 years have passed since the last China Sky album in 1988. A lot has changed in that time: hipsters have regrettably come into existence, the confusingly named MTV has inexplicably ceased playing music videos and Ozzy has tried his hand at acting. Also, I was conceived and am now writing this very review.
27 years is a very long time in rock and roll.
Having said this, China Sky, fronted by singer Ron Perry, have climbed out from under all of the pretentious musical dribble that seemingly constitutes music these days. This new release, aptly named China Sky II, is a simple, no-nonsense hard rock serving. So let’s dig in.
The album opens with the band’s single release ‘One Life’. This song gets the album off to a promising start, boasting a rather catchy chorus and announcing, rather ironically, that you perhaps get two lives, as China Sky know all too well. Personally, upon first listen, I felt Perry was holding back with the vocals on this track. I mean, 1988’s ‘The Glory’ is an outstanding rock anthem and a track in which Perry’s vocals cause serious sparks.
However, that was only the first song. So we continue.
The album’s third track, ‘You Are Not Alone’, is undoubtedly where this record peaks. The guitar work from Steve Wheeler is seductively fierce at times. The pre-chorus and chorus combo are a treat and the finished product is an undeniable success. I can really see why this band had a few serious hits in ’88. Fine instrumental balance and a dose of well-worked vocal harmonising are there to be heard. Despite one last “you are are not alone” at the songs climax, I still felt that Perry was perhaps holding back a little. I will reiterate, however, it has been a few decades.
Moving on, the superb ballad ‘The Road Not Taken’ and the somewhat less impressive ‘The Richest Man In The World’ provide some respite from the heavier tracks on the album. However, barring a few catchy acoustic guitar licks in the former track and what is an incredibly beautiful solo, the band’s strength is undoubtedly in the heavier tracks. That’s when the guitar can really do the damage I know these guys are capable of. Perry’s voice, it must be said, is an absolute delight to listen to in ‘The Road Not Taken’. Withheld, yes, but suitably powerful even in such a soft track.
The album concludes, after what were (for me) a few would-be cuts, with the aggressive electrics and that infectious rumbling bass of ‘Dreams I Will Never See’. On a personal note, I’m so glad that the band managed to finish the album as strongly as they started it, with some real throwbacks to the hardcore 80’s licks and hooks that we’d all welcome back with open arms.
To conclude, China Sky have every single ingredient needed for any hard rock outfit to sell albums. Vocally, Perry may not be what he was 27 years ago. Hey, nobody’s perfect. At any rate, redemption is found in tracks like ‘The Road Not Taken’. ‘You Are Not Alone’ is a track I would recommend as a stand-alone to anyone I know. There are some serious diamonds in amongst this rough. What is most inspiring is China Sky’s near miraculous rising from the dead. They may preach “One Life”, but these guys will be all too aware of this second chance. And this album is a solid display of talent and bubbling potential for the future.
Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait nearly three decades for the next album.
Written by Phil Bailie
Ratings Phil Bailie 6/10