Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Culture Club

This is the third post in the A-Z Blogging Challenge and when I thought of something beginning with C the only thing that sprang to mind was Culture Club.   Now I've committed to writing about Culture Club, I can of course think of other things (isn't that always the way?)

Culture Club was formed in 1981 and was known mainly for it's far from shy lead singer - Boy George.   With hits that are hard to get out of your head like Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club released four albums during the 80s.

Culture Club's most successful album was their second one - Colour By Numbers.   This had one of my favorite Culture Club singles on it - Church of the Poison Mind.

Culture Club - A Short Bio

Boy George and Bassist Mickey Craig set out to form a group, next they joined forces with former Ant (from Adam and the Ants) Jon Moss. The final member of the group to join was their guitarist Roy Hay.

The name of the band was originally to be Sex Gang Children, however at Jon Moss' suggestion they changed it to Culture Club. The name would give them some flak as people thought it was extremely pretentious, but it was actually an inside joke on the different cultures inside the club.

  • Boy George - transvestite Irish
  • Mickey Craig - Jamaican-Briton
  • Jon Moss - Jewish
  • Roy Hay - Anglo-Saxon

The band signed with Virgin records in the UK and released their first album in 1982 - Kissing to be Clever. Their second album was Colour By Numbers and was released in 1983. The Band released a third album in 1984 titled Waking Up With the House on Fire which was not as successful. Their final album was 1986's From Luxury to Heartache.

During 1985 George started a battle with drug dependance, he was arrested in 1986 for possession of heroin and Culture Club's break up was officially confirmed in 1987.

Culture Club's Music

Culture Club were part of the New Romantic era of music where groups were kicking back against the punk movement and presenting themselves as the whole package. Musically and visually they wanted to ooze glamour and for people to notice them and even emulate them.

Culture Club's music seems to be a fusion of pop, reggae and even a little disco. Their songs contain a hook that gets the audience singing along and wanting more.

Kissing to be Clever - Culture Club

Editorial Reviews from

Against the cynical, post-punk backdrop of the early Thatcher and Reagan era, Culture Club's debut release Kissing to Be Clever was as refreshing as a scoop of gelato in a heatwave. These were the innocent days when Boy George could still declare he'd rather "have a cup of tea than sex," well before he hurtled to the brink of near self-destruction. Several of the cuts are still amazingly fresh and easily convey the winning charisma that transformed Boy George and his band into a pop icon. Songs like "I'll tumble 4 ya" and "Boy-Boy-I'm the Boy" seem tailor-made for the frontman's smooth-sliding tenor, while Mikey Craig's bass grooves pump with dance-til-you-drop Hi NRG. Although relatively brief (the original LP had one more cut than the CD release), the album stylistically hops like a Mexican jumping bean from disco funk to rhumba to reggae and contains obvious filler material. But the gender-bender flair perfected by Boy George announced a unique style that helped define the decade. --Thomas May

Kissing to Be Clever
Track Listings

1. White Boy [Dance Mix]

2. You Know I'm Not Crazy

3. I'll Tumble 4 Ya

4. Take Control

5. Love Twist - Captain Crucial, Culture Club

6. Boy Boy (I'm the Boy)

7. I'm Afraid of Me [Remix]

8. White Boys Can't Control It

9. Do You Really Want to Hurt Me

10. Love Is Cold [*]

11. Murder Rap Trap [*] - Captain Crucial, Culture Club

12. Time (Clock of the Heart) [*]

13. Romance Beyond the Alphabet [*]

[*] Bonus tracks not included on the original album

The first two singles off of Culture Club’s Kissing to be Clever album didn’t even dent the UK’s top 100. They were White Boy and I’m Afraid of Me. Their next three singles, however were a different story.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? (top ten hit around the world, reaching number 1 in 7 countries including the UK, Australia and Canada.

Time (Clock of the Heart) their second top ten single.

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya – this single was only released in the US and Canada and reached number 9 in both countries.

Colour by Numbers

Culture Club

Colour By Numbers
Culture Club continued their onslaught on the charts with their best album Colour by Numbers. The first single off of this album was Church of the Poison Mind which made the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic.

It was the second single off of Colour by Numbers which was to become the band's biggest hit - Karma Chameleon became a number 1 single on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world.

Victims was released in the UK and made it to number 3.

Miss me Blind was released in the US and made it to number 5.

The single It's a Miracle didn't quite break into the US top 10 settling for number 13, it was however, able to reach number 4 in the UK.

Track Listing

1. "Karma Chameleon" – 4:12
2. "It's a Miracle" – 3:25
3. "Black Money" – 5:19
4. "Changing Every Day" – 3:17
5. "That's the Way (I'm Only Trying to Help You)" – 2:45
6. "Church of the Poison Mind" – 3:30
7. "Miss Me Blind" – 4:30
8. "Mister Man" – 3:36
9. "Stormkeeper" – 2:46
10. "Victims" – 4:55
11. "Man-Shake" – 2:34 (2003 remastered CD bonus track)
12. "Mystery Boy" (Suntori Hot Whiskey Song) – 3:33 (2003 remastered CD bonus track)
13. "Melting Pot" – 4:31 (2003 remastered CD bonus track)
14. "Colour by Numbers" – 3:57 (2003 remastered CD bonus track)
15. "Romance Revisited" – 5:00 (2003 remastered CD bonus track)

Waking Up With the House on Fire - Culture Club

Culture Club’s third album was unable to reach the commercial success of Kissing to be Clever and Colour by Numbers.

The first single War Song made it to number 2 in the UK, but Culture Club were not able to break into the US top 10 again. War Song was only able to reach number 17 on Billboard.

The Medal Song was released in the UK and managed to scrape into the top 40.

Mistake No 3 was released in the US and only just managed to scrape into the Billboard’s Top 40.

Waking Up with the House on Fire
Track Listings

1. Dangerous Man

2. War Song

3. Unfortunate Thing

4. Crime Time

5. Mistake No. 3

6. Dive

7. Medal Song

8. Don't Talk About It

9. Mannequin

10. Hello, Goodbye

From Luxury to Heartache - Culture Club

Culture Clubs last album in the 80s was not a commercial success. Because of Boy George’s fight against drug addiction and his failing relationship with Jon Moss the album took a lot longer to produce than it was planned. Even Boy George’s notorious drug arrest in 1986 couldn’t help to sell the album and only two singles were ever released from it (only one in the US).

Move Away managed to get into the UK top ten and even peaked at number 12 in the Billboard Chart. God Thank You Woman only made it to number 31 in the UK.

From Luxury to Heartache heralded the end of Culture Club and this was officially confirmed the following year.

From Luxury To Heartache
Track Listings

1. "Move Away" – 4:21

2. "I Pray" – 4:00

3. "Work On Me Baby" – 4:06

4. "Gusto Blusto" – 4:40

5. "Heaven's Children" – 4:44

6. "God Thank You Woman" – 4:14

7. "Reasons" – 4:35

8. "Too Bad" – 4:36

9. "Come Clean" – 3:20

10. "Sexuality" – 5:28

What did you think of Culture Club?   I had a friend who actually wore a Boy George duster coat everywhere and even had her hair styled like his (I'd love to know what she looks like these days!).   Share your Culture Club memories and/or favorite song below.


  1. I totally loved Culture Club and I still enjoy listening to the music now. The BEST!

  2. I also liked Church...though I have to admit, Karma Chameleon was pretty darn catchy.

    Found your blog on A to Z. Good luck with the challenge!

  3. Fellow A to Z'er stopping by. Loved the music of teh 80s!

  4. Cool. Boy George was my first and only celebrity twitter follower. He retweeted me a few weeks back. I was so psyched. :D

  5. i loved culture club when i was growing up. i always wondered how the heck boy george always did his make up so perfect. karma chameleon is still a favorite of mine!