Asian chic in 80s pop

China Crisis, Gang of Four, Japan and silliest of all….Huang Chung.  Who?  Yeah, they didn’t go too far.  But at the start of the 80s, there was a handful of bands weary of the Teutonic obsessions going round who decided to look further east for inspiration.

The Gang of Four in the real world was the group around Chairman Mao’s widow put on trial for plotting against the new leaders who emerged after the big man’s death in 1976.   A poster of Mao can be seen in the background of Japan’s album cover for ‘Tin Drum’.

But Huang Chung is the band that makes me laugh.  It was all a kind of kitsch idea of what Chinese rock music would sound like if it actually existed at the time.  But in the same breath, the band were at pains to say they weren’t going to inflict ‘eastern scales’ on western ears.

This whole Chinese/Asian thing got to the extent that a club was planned in London called ‘The Great Wall’ to rival Blitz and Hell.  Huang Chung had some very un-Chinese band members – Hog Robinson, Jack Hues, Nick De Spig and Charles Darwin (sic).   They didn’t find the success they craved in the UK but did eventually break through in the US courtesy of Geffen Records – and a name change to Wang Chung.


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