When I was small we had one of those boxy Minis with a wood-framed chassis. It was a fine car I’m sure – my Aunt took it from us in the late 70s and gave it a good run before it finally died. But there was always something ungainly about it, and looking back it’s odd to remember these machines which mixed metal and timber in a way that seems now quite un-car-like.
And “China In Your Hand” gives me the same feeling. This is a power ballad which hasn’t come out sleek and thunderous, it’s come out lumpy and awkward and lashed together with incongruous bits of wood. There’s a wrecking-ball chorus, Carol Decker’s billowing voice, enjoyably scrambled lyrics – but there’s also that sax solo where you’re expecting a guitar one, and those precise scene-setting pizzicatos which make the intro so tempting and the rest of the tune so draggy. The mix of sounds should make the song more interesting, expand on the sturdy, denim-clad virtues at its core, but it just seems messy. Especially if you play it next to a full-on hormone exocet like Heart’s “Alone” – a fairly obvious marker for what this version of “China” was aiming for and missing.