Chinese Wall is Earth, Wind and Fire vocalist Philip Bailey’s second solo album. It was released in 1984 and it follows Continuation from the previous year.
Continuation did…. OK, but not great. It peaked at #72 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. Chinese Wall reached #22. Why the difference? Well, mainly it was because of Phil Collins, but we’ll also say that it did have a bunch of good songs on it too.
So what did Phil Collins have to do with the success? For one, he produced the album. Secondly, he plays drums on the entire album, but he also sang the duet vocal part on the huge hit, Easy Lover (#2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart)
Phil’s production is quite obvious as well. Many times this album has a similar feel to Phil’s Face Value. You can hear more than a little of “Hand in Hand” in the “sort of” title cut, “Walking on the Chinese Wall.” Here’s the thing though, I absolutely love “Hand in Hand” and I absolutely love “Walking on the Chinese Wall.” Some of the same musicians play on both albums as well, guitarist Daryl Stuermer and the Phenix horns to be exact.
Philip Bailey is an amazing vocalist. He shines here on ballads to funk. “Photogenic Memory” leads off the album, it was also a single. “For Every Heart Broken” is a nice ballad and a wonderful place to hear Philips fine falsetto. If you only have time to listen to one track on the video playlist below, my favorite is the title cut. Check it out.
— Larry Carta
- “Photogenic Memory” (Jerry Knight, Davitt Sigerson Clark) 5:26
- “I Go Crazy” (Phillip Bailey, Glen Ballard, Marti Sharron) 4:48
- “Walking on the Chinese Wall” (Billie Hughes, Marcy Levy, Roxanne Seeman) 5:08
- “For Every Heart That’s Been Broken” (Ballard, Clif Magness) 4:15
- “Go” (Marcel East, Ralph Johnson) 4:30
- “Easy Lover” (Duet with Phil Collins) (Philip Bailey, Phil Collins, Nathan East) 5:04
- “Show You the Way to Love” (Philip Bailey, Glen Ballard, Marti Sharron) 4:41
- “Time Is a Woman” (Barry Blue, Julian Littman, Robin Smith) 4:31
- “Woman” (Steve Mitchell, Marti Sharron, Gary Skardina) 5:04
- “Children of the Ghetto” (Chris Amoo, Eddie Amoo) 6:49
- Philip Bailey – Percussion, Vocals, Background Vocals
- Carl Carwell – Background Vocals
- Phil Collins – Synthesizer, Percussion, Drums, Vocals, Background Vocals
- Paulinho da Costa – Percussion
- Rahmlee Michael Davis – Trumpet
- Nathan East – Bass, Keyboards
- Winston Ford – Background Vocals
- Michael Harris – Trumpet
- Jose James – Background Vocals
- Nigel Martinez – Keyboards, Vocals
- The Phenix Horns – Horns
- Don Myrick – Saxophone
- Louis Satterfield – Trombone
- Daryl Stuermer – Guitar
- Lesette Wilson – Keyboards