When you think of Boy George now, you picture an overweight old balding man who was doing community service a few years back, but in the 80’s he and Culture Club were one of the most popular bands around. Some of their songs are still popular today with most of their hits found on their second album. It’s a fun record with a bunch of upbeat tunes to move to, along with some somber numbers that show it wasn’t all a party for the enigmatic front man.
What I really like about the record is that there are a lot of fun songs here to quench your thirst for the 80’s. The classics like “Karma Chameleon” and “It’s a Miracle” are found here, but the other songs are just as good as the singles, which is pretty rare with bands that have amazing singles. One of my favorites is “Changing Every Day.” It has this weird mambo/lounge lizard feeling. I can’t describe what gives it this sound, but it’s probably the playful piano. Either way I love how it has this sultry Latin feel in the music and the way Boy George is singing. It’s a great track with a sleek and cool vibe.
Another great song is the slow and intimate “That’s the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You).” This song shows how the band draws from different genres for their sound. This one has a strong soul influence with the dramatic piano and a sensitive, vulnerable singer. I also love how it’s just the George and the piano; no other instruments, which makes it such an intimate moment on the album. The band takes another serious moment with the closing track “Victims.” It has this somber, depressing sound with a lone piano, but everything gets really dramatic when the drums come in. The sound gets bigger and louder, but the track manages to keep its sad tone. It’s actually quite provocative for the band.
What’s interesting about the album is that there are several references to homosexuality, which we really shouldn’t be surprised about. But it’s just interesting because most of the time they’re not obvious. “Church of the Poison Mind” is apparently about how some religious organizations look down on homosexuality. The love and religion references are noticeable, but for me there was nothing in the song that hinted it was specially about sexual orientation. Another song that seems to take this direction is “Stormkeeper.” Lyrics like “Don’t let them tell you this love is wrong/And don’t let them fool you this love can’t go on” suggests that it’s about gay lovers who feel they shouldn’t have to keep their love under wraps. With songs like these, it’s clear that the band was never shy about where they stand on the issue of sexuality, which is amazing when you think about the era the songs were released.
Another thing that’s interesting about the album is how the band seems to blend in different styles of music for different songs. We usually think of them as just a straight up pop group, so it may surprise you when you hear songs like “That’s the Way” and “Church of the Poison” that have soul feeling and sound. But the boys pull from other music genres as well. I already mentioned the Latin vibe found on “Changing Everyday,” but “Miss Me Blind” has slight rock and funk sounds in it. The guitar solo hear sounds like something you would hear on your standard rock song, but the guitar sound during the verses have a funky edge. It’s just a little unexpected to learn that Culture Club have so many different influences for their sound.
Overall, the album get 8/10. It may not be the strongest or best pop record from the 80’s, but there are some great songs on here that’ll make you think twice about the band. You can find some of their classics here, but you also find a sensitive, serious, and vulnerable Boy George on certain tracks. Also, the way the bring different music styles to their sound will keep you from writing them off as another typical 80’s pop group.