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Vangelis China album cover
3.88 | 174 ratings | 20 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chung Kuo (5:31)
2. The Long March (2:01)
3. The Dragon (4:13)
4. The Plum Blossom (2:36)
5. The Tao of Love (2:44)
6. The Little Fete (3:01)
7. Yin & Yang (5:48)
8. Himalaya (10:53)
9. Summit (4:30)

Total Time 41:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Evangelos Papathanassiou / synthesizers, drum machines, electric piano (5), piano (2,4,8), Chinese flutes, plucked string instruments, arranger & producer

- Yeunk Hak Fun / narrator (6)
- Koon Fook Man / narrator (6)
- Michel Ripoche / violin solo (4)

Releases information

Artwork: Veronique Skawinska (photo)

LP Polydor ‎- 2310658 (1979, France)

CD Polydor ‎- 813 653-2 (1983, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy VANGELIS China Music

VANGELIS China ratings distribution

(174 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

VANGELIS China reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
5 stars This has long been one of my favourite instrumental albums.Vangelis is a remarkable composer and has a great knack of combining electronic sounds with percussion to perfection.The music here captures the spirit and feeling of this great country perfectly.There is not a single poor track.The only reason I don't give it 5 stars is that it is not a prog album BUT please note this is not 'New Age' either! If you just like brilliant instrumental music and wonderful melodies then check this out.
Review by soundsweird
4 stars Another of my favorite Vangelis albums. It starts off with a classic, "Chung Kuo", which was actually used in a Mercury TV commercial (I remember a letter to the editor of Parade magazine asking who did that wonderful music)! Like all Vangelis albums, it has some filler, but there are some really nice tracks on this album, and the sound quality is great.
Review by Guillermo
4 stars This is a very good album created by a Greek musician doing very good compositions with arrangements that made them sound like "authentic Chinese music", I think. He also used some Chinese instruments in the recording of this album. "Chung Kuo" ( "The Long March") was also used in one TV ad in my country (for cars, too!). "The Little Fete" has a funny poem recitation done by a Chinese person (in English). "Himalaya/Summit" sounds to me like being played in a Chinese mountain while seeing the fog. I prefer the music in Side One of the L.P. (tracks 1 to 6). A fine album.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars WOW! Vangelis really masters the modern keyboards here! Welcome to the realm of Asiatic music. As the titles reveal, the Chinese influences are omnipresent. Very charming and beautiful, this music will transport you into an Oriental world. There are miscellaneous instruments: piano, violin, delicate percussions, exotic string instruments. There are absolutely NO ordinary tracks! Vangelis succeeds very well here on fitting together traditional acoustic instruments and modern, floating, rhythmic & melodic keyboards.

On side 2, you are invited to participate to the ascension of an Himalaya peak! Absolutely delightful, especially when you reach the "Summit": I LIKE the scattered volume effect on keyboards at the very end!

rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I am going out on a limb here and giving China a solid five stars. This was Vangelis at his absolute peak in the late 70's. All the great works of Heaven and Hell, Spiral and La Fete Sauvage culminated in this climatic masterpiece. Progressive music at it's best. Naturally the album has a China feel and theme to the music not to mention climbing himalays and plumb blossmes and love taos. There was a great spiritual revolution closing off the 70's and Vangelis has captured all that on China. I think he achieved similar with Jon Anderson on Short Stories as well.

The album commences with the great ' Chung Kuo', typical Vangelis soundscapes but with the ' tao' feel. ' The Dragon' is a great Eastern upbeat song followed by the beautiful ' Plum Blossom' song, nostalgic and very moving.' The Tao of Love' follows with some great recitation by Koon Fook Man. All the spiritual themes of ' I Ching' alive and well, plenty of karma to reflect upon. Side 2 is more epic landscape sound as the album builds to the " Himalaya' and classic ' Summit' end piece. This is one of Vangelis's top three or four masterpieces. He managed about one a decade so far and this was his 70's number one album.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars The first "New-Age" album ever?

Having just heard Vangelis' previous album, Beaubourg, hearing China is truly a relief for the ears. In sharp contrast to Beaubourg, China is harmonic and melodious (though not melodic). This might perhaps be called New-Age music and if so it must be one of the earliest examples of that genre (maybe the first such album ever?). It is thus not a Prog Rock album by any means, but it might perhaps be called "progressive" in some other sense?

Mixed in with Vangelis' electronic synthesisers, we have some "natural" instruments this time; the most prominent being violin but there are also grand piano and some flutes. Also, in line with the title of the album (and the inspiration behind it?), there are some Asian sounding instruments and harmonies. These are very pleasant to listen to, but the music never rises above mere background music, for me anyway. This is not to say that there are no things happening in the music, there is. But it is not interesting enough to warrant repeated listens; hearings maybe, but not listens.

While China is great when you compare it with the abomination of sound that was Beaubourg, it is hardly a great piece of work in its own right. I think it is fair to say that Vangelis' relation to Prog (if there ever was one!) was over by the time of this release in 1979.

Since I was generous when I gave a couple of his earlier album Heaven And Hell and Spiral three stars (each!), and Beaubourg I "generously" gave one star (wishing I could give it zero stars!), I will be similarly generous here in giving China two stars.

For Prog fans who are newcomers to Vangelis, I would recommend to start with Heaven And Hell and Spiral which are his best albums. Albedo 0.39 has some weak parts but it too is preferable over China.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars After the dreadful "Beaubourg" experience, Vangelis could only do one thing: to release a better album. And it is definitely the case.

We are far from these unbearable and experimental moments which we had to slick in his previous album. The artist provides again some fine electronic prog music as if "Beaubourg" was only an accident.

This work is still far from the best ones like "La Fête Sauvage" or "Spiral". The first side is made of mainly short tracks of which "The Tao Of Love" develops some Chinese patterns and is the best achieved together with the opener "Chung Kuo". The closing part also shares the Chinese feel, but the spoken words sound quite flat. This track would have sound better if it had remained a pure instrumental.

The second side was more "Chinese" oriented and this ethnic flavour is not too bad at all. It is the case while you're listening to "Ying & Yang". I am not so enthusiast about "Himalaya" though.

In all, this is a another good album released by Vangelis. Three stars.

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
4 stars Vangelis took 3 years and 4 albums before releasing another big one after Albedo 0.39.

Effectively "Chung Kuo" (it means China, the ideograms who compose it are "House" and "Man", so China means "the House of Man") starts very similar to Albedo 0.39 before losing the percussions. Even if inspired to China this is not the kind of music that can be found as background in a Chinese Restaurant. "Chung Kuo" is very melodic and evocative. It gives the idea of Chinese Heights without being folky. A great start for a very good album. The theme is reprised by the piano solo in "The Long March". There's continuity. We can't speak of a concept album but all the tracks are inspired to the same idea and the music is evocative so it's not too far frome being a concept album even if instrumental. A good short piano piece.

"The Dragon" is back to electronic. Nothing to do with the omonimous album and the omonimous title track. A fantastic electronic track even though it's the less "chinese".

"The Plum Blossom" and its violin are more Greek. The piano which accompanies the violin has some of "sirtaki". By the way, the violin is played by Michel Ripochewho did the same on "The Dragon" and "Hypothesys".

Fully in China with "The Tao Of Love". Peaceful and solar, it's probably the most famous track of the album. Short and sweet.

"The Little Fete" is opened by a pan flute that reprises the last notes of "The Tao", then a gong and a harp. It's like being in a temple until a voice with a chinese accent tells the story of a bottle of wine. "When I go home, the moon moves with me...." this is one of the sentences that I can catch. A Tao story, maybe

Speaking of Tao, "Ying & Yang" is very appropriate. Here the music is very chinese. Of course it's almost all electronic, but what matters are the sounds. The track is dualistic. The first half is different from the second, but they are the same track. Two faces of the same song. "Ying and Yang are the opposites, but they are not "black and white".

"Himalaya" is the longest track. It's the most complex. Like many track of this kind is based on repetitions and little variations. Peaceful also this, even when the orchestral accents give it a dramatic touch.

"Summit" is a good closer of an album which is not an absolute masterpiece but deserves to be hosted in any discography. After Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39, it's at the third place in my heart in the huge discography of Vangelis.

4 totally deserved stars

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Full of eastern promise

After apparently losing the plot completely with 1978's "Beaubourg" album, Vangelis quickly returned to the studio later that year and recorded this concept album for release in 1979. The album's concept is as simple as its title, focusing on various aspects of the the Asian country of that name. Once again, Vangelis takes total control of the project, although he does indulge in the services of a trio of guests on a couple of the tracks.

Over the years, there has been considerable confusion and debate surrounding the opening two tracks, which merge together to form a 7+ minute piece. The official timings indicate that "Chung Kuo" (which actually means "China") forms the bulk of the track, but there is a strong argument that the natural division of the piece is where it moves from the "Beaubourg" like rhythmic noise of the first couple of minutes into the melodic synths which some evidence suggests are entitled entirely confined to "The long march". Musically, the marching beat which prevails also suggests that "The long march" is indeed the longer part of the piece. Part of the problem is that there are actually three distinct sections, not two. The debate is of course largely academic, as the album is in any event intended as a complete suite. Here, and throughout the album, Vangelis attempts to ensure that the album's concept is clear, through the creation on synths of oriental sounds and textures.

The guests on the album are Michel Ripoche, who adds Grappelli like violin to the brief "The plum blossom" and the (schoolboy sniggering) amusingly named Yeung Hak-Fun and Koon Fook Man who add spoken word to "The little fete". This latter track is based around an old Chinese poem by Li Po, translated by J.C. Cooper and recited here in English. The words of the brief ode are helpfully included in the CD notes, but I cannot help but feel that it would have sounded better if kept in its native language. In English, it sounds phonetic and lifeless.

The feature track is the 11 minute "Himalaya" (singular), which combines with the following "Summit" to form a 15+ minute closer. The extra space afforded by the tracks length is used to spread things out rather than cram things in (to put it rather clumsily). There are some nice "Chariots of fire" type synth bursts along the way though.

Overall, a reassuring return to form by Vangelis. "China" holds few surprises in the context of his discography, but it does make for a pleasant if largely unexciting listen.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars In 1978, Vangelis released his last album recorded for RCA called "Beaubourg". Everything up to that point had been rather accessible in comparison, however, that album was quite experimental. Instead of being based on melody as his previous albums, this one was based on tones, textures and sounds and many of his fans were turned off by it not expecting to hear something so different from the norm. Even though there were a few albums released after this album ("The Dragon" and "Hypotesis"), these records consisted of earlier music which was improvised and were unofficial, not approved by Vangelis, and as a result, were pulled from the market. His next official non-soundtrack album "China" was released in 1979, and his fans breathed a collective sigh of relief at his return to a more accessible style.

Except for a violin solo on the song "The Plum Blossom" and a recitation on "The Little Fete", Vangelis performs all instruments on this album. Vangelis had never been to China, yet was still impressed with the music and culture for it to have an influence on the entire album, which is a concept album based on China as he envisioned it. The music is made up of shorter tracks this time around and consist of simple melodies influenced by Chinese music.

After a sudden noisy beginning that sounds like a steam locomotive barreling out of your speakers, we are transported to the track "Chung Kuo" which is a lovely melody over the top of lush synths and repeating tones that enhance the melody, which the listener will immediately associate with China. The ending of the track is peacefully taken over by a piano playing an embellishment of the melody which makes up "The Long March". "The Dragon" is much more electronic with cool effects and percussion. "The Plum Blossom" is a bit more organic with a bit of piano supporting a violin solo performed by Michel Ripoche. The violin part is quite playful swinging around the simple foundation provided by the piano, but soon the synths join in providing more sounds and textures. "The Tao of Love" uses an electric keyboard underneath a lovely plucked sting instrument that has a nice oriental flavor to it. Very romantic sound. "The Little Fete" uses woodwinds with an echo effect. Yeung Hak-Fun and Koon Fook Man provide narration for a recitative section on this track which is quite atmospheric. Vibes and keys provide more atmosphere when the recitation starts, which is based on poetry from around the 8th century by Li Bai

The 2nd side starts off with "Yin & Yang" which uses synths and string instruments. It starts off quite distinct and playful, but eventually moves to a more atmospheric feel with a more meandering feel. Then a throbbing synth and percussion gives the track more movement as it goes along. It's quite an exciting track as it incorporates more of a progressive sense to it. "Himalaya" is the longest track of the album at almost 11 minutes in length. This one uses synth effects to paint the picture of lofty peaks and windy snowfields. A dynamic drone in the background conjures up large expanses of land. Percussion marks the passage of time with steady sleigh bell-like beat constant throughout. Improvised piano plays lightly around the louder synth melody lines. "Summit" segues from the previous track and is a more dramatic and darker track than any of the previous ones. It's a nice way to end the album in a pensive mood.

Even though this one is more on the accessible side, this is a lovely album that some may wonder if it is early new age. It isn't that at all. These are beautifully constructed tracks inspired by the music and culture of China, staying surprisingly true to the country's sounds and styles, more along the classical traditions than the modern ones. It is one of my favorites in Vangelis' discography and well worth 4 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars What is interesting about China is that it mixes two different characteristics of Vangelis work: the somewhat folkish sound with traditional Chinese flutes, percussion and even a bit of violin by the longtime collaborator Michel Ripoche and the distinctive soundscapes using now polyphonic and di ... (read more)

Report this review (#3050971) | Posted by mickcoxinha | Tuesday, April 30, 2024 | Review Permanlink

5 stars VANGELIS with CHINA as a hidden chronicle, just for fun. 1 Chung Kuo with the intro cosmic waves or Chinese artifices that set the sky ablaze; immense apocalyptic, symphonic and majestic intro, the arrival of this comet sound, shooting star, flame-fall of the extinguishing fire?; in short we ... (read more)

Report this review (#2928680) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, May 28, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you did not know the title, it sounds like China. This is the album I like best by Vangelis and it has been awhile since I played this until today. He inserts a little more power into this effort as I think the subject matter requires those grand, majestic, and climatic moments. However, ... (read more)

Report this review (#838898) | Posted by AEProgman | Monday, October 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Vangelis makes a great artistic statement in his tribute to China, an album that uses both electronic and world instruments to create a uniform and decorated sonic landspace picture. The opening "Chung Kao" is a great combination of these sounds and a very majestic and regal piece. "The Drag ... (read more)

Report this review (#603709) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Thursday, January 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Vangelis really shows his genius here. 1979 was a particularly productive year for this artist and China turned out to be one of his finest, most creative works. Think orchestral and synth harmonies with many Eastern flavours. The opening "Chung Kuo" has plenty of grandeur while still maintaining a ... (read more)

Report this review (#585056) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, December 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ex Aphrodite Child, Vangelis gave us beautiful albums, sometimes agonizing, grandiloquants, synthesizer sounds powerful. "Chung Kuo" (this means that China, ideograms that compose it are "House" and "Man", and China means "house of men") begins very similar to Albedo 0.39 before losing percussion ... (read more)

Report this review (#367966) | Posted by Discographia | Thursday, December 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A return to form after the rude interruption that was Beauborg. The end of the seventies was an active period of time for Vangelis. In 1979 alone he had released one oddity of a film soundtrack and one rare gem of collaboration with a fellow Greek expat and two classics. China is one of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#288167) | Posted by Progosopher | Friday, June 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is regarded by many fans of Vangelis, as one of the composer's greatest achievements. I would certainly agree - China is a magnificent and powerful album, and is possibly the archetypal Vangelis album in many ways. His first proper album for Polydor, China did not sell very well at th ... (read more)

Report this review (#160057) | Posted by UnearthlyChild | Monday, January 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars You could call this one another concept album, although the conceptual nature here is less obvious than in other Vangelis' works like "The City", but still, this is another great one. The subject here is Chinese music, and Vangelis performs an excellent construction based in the mix between hi ... (read more)

Report this review (#59400) | Posted by shyman | Wednesday, December 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Nice thing about this album is that Vangelis interprets different aspects of Chinese music and culture in his own unique way, without trying to imitate Chinese music. Thank goodness this is not just another boring world music recording! The overall atmosphere is deeply romantic and nostalgic, ... (read more)

Report this review (#34850) | Posted by EMinkovitch | Friday, April 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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