Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Culture Club - Colour by Numbers (30th anniversary)

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Colour By Numbers, the second studio album from Culture Club. This 1983 release followed up their hit debut album Kissing to Be Clever (click here for that review).

For my full review of Colour By Numbers, please click here.


HERC said...

Pretty sure I heard Culture Club's debut album Kissing To Be Clever before most other Americans when my Dad brought it home after borrowing it from someone at work who had just returned from several years in England. This was probably October 1982. I remember his comment that the "girl" on the cover must be a good singer because "she" wasn't much to look at. He listened to it once said he liked it, then I taped it and he returned it. Bought my own copy of the album when it was released Stateside in December. As you said, the album had a slightly different tracklisting than the British import I had come to love from my cassette copy. A second US version was issued with "Time (Clock Of The Heart)" added so I had to get that one, too. Like you, I enjoyed the way the band "blended a variety of musical styles into a big cultural melting pot."

Still, when the first single from their sophomore effort was released in October 1983, I was not prepared for how much I liked it. "Church of The Poison Mind" had that rollicking Motown throwback sound down, too. Helen Terry also had a greater presence on the track heralding her overall increased presence on the album Colour By Numbers.

Unlike a lot of my friends, I didn't get too caught up in Culture Club's image or videos - liked the songs just didn't care for the videos of the songs. "Miss Me Blind" was my favorite single from the album and it was made available in a glorious extended 12" remix in a medley with "It's A Miracle" (later released on its own as the fifth and final single from the album) that lasted over nine minutes. That Nile Rodgers-ish guitar riff you singled out made the single irresistible on the dance floor and that 12" hit the Top 10 on the Hot Dance Club chart.

I spent almost all of my waking hours that summer of 1984 listening to music, making tapes for the drive to and from campus, tapes to listen to while doing homework and still more tapes for studying for tests. I made tapes for dates and tapes for just cruisin' - gas was $1.25 a gallon then, so I'd put in 4 gallons in for $5 and be able to drive for hours.

One of my favorite tapes made during this time was called Clever Numbers - side A had CLEVER written on it and sibe B had NUMBERS. The music was a compilation of my favorite tracks from Culture Club's first two albums and various mixes like the dub version of "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" featuring Pappa Weasel. It was a 60 minute tape and the final song on both sides was the 12" of "Miss Me Blind"/"It's A Miracle". After seeing the movie Electric Dreams later that same Summer, a new version of Clever Numbers had to be made to squeeze in Culture Club's contribution to the soundtrack "Love Is Love".

When the group's next single was released I joined in the chorus "This Song Is Stupid..." Still, I bought the next album and the next and the next and then the greatest hits and then the box set and the 12" collection and so on but those first two albums remain my overwhelming favorites. Something about George's voice and it's fragile soul. My favorite performance remains his tender version of "The Crying Game".

Such a good, good album. Top to bottom, I just listened to it all the way through and decided I don't listen to it often enough. Maybe I should make another Clever Numbers playlist.

Martin Maenza said...

Herc, thanks for the comments. Always happy to read what you have to share. I agree totally about Boy George's voice - he really gets that soul singing that comes from an honest, emotional place.