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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > FREE CLASSIC POP ISSUE > CLASSIC ALBUM COLOUR BY NUMBERS

CLASSIC ALBUM COLOUR BY NUMBERS

THEY WERE ONE OF THE MOST COLOURFUL ACTS OF THE DECADE, YET THE VIBRANCY AND MELODIES OF CULTURE CLUB’S SECOND OPUS BELIED THE HEARTACHE AND TENSIONS THAT INSPIRED IT – WITH THEIR FLAMBOYANT FRONTMAN’S SPOTLIGHT SHINING A LITTLE TOO BRIGHTLY FOR HIS BANDMATES…

CULTURE CLUB

Culture Club circa 1983 (left to right): Jon Moss, Mikey Craig, Boy George and Roy Hay
© Chris Van de Vooren/Sunshine International/REX/Shutterstock

As the nation reeled in shock when David Bowie draped his arm around Mick Ronson’s shoulder during his infamous Top Of The Pops performance of Starman in July 1972, a spark was ignited in 11-year-old viewer George O’Dowd, who recognised a kindred spirit in Bowie and made the decision to follow in the platform-soled footsteps of his idol. Immersing himself in the glam rock, punk and New Romantic scenes, he reinvented himself as a flamboyant entity in his own right.

A decade later, George’s own appearance on the same show to perform Do You Really Want To Hurt Me elicited an equally controversial reaction to that of Bowie’s – and the charismatic singer of indeterminate gender was baptised pop’s hottest property.

Although the initial reaction to Boy George’s androgynous look had shifted between negative (he was crowned ‘Wally Of The Week’ by renowned TV critic Nina Myskow) and bewildered, his talent was undeniable and the soulful reggae of Do You Really Want To Hurt Me made Culture Club a global phenomenon.

As the band relentlessly promoted the song, getting back in the studio to work on new material was at the forefront of their minds. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me had proved third-time lucky for them, following the flop of their first two singles White Boy and I’m Afraid Of Me and, feeling that their debut album Kissing To Be Clever lacked anything else worthy of being a single, the band was concerned about the prospect of becoming a one-hit wonder.

One of the first new tracks they recorded, Time (Clock Of The Heart) was rush-released in November 1982 and alleviated those fears, giving them a second Top 10 hit.

A sublime slice of blueeyed soul, the track served its purpose of keeping the band in the public eye – and the charts – while they crafted their second album amidst one of the most competitive times in music, with Wham!, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet all vying for the attentions of Britain’s teenagers. “With so many great bands around, people can forget about you really quickly – especially when you’re a new band”, George said at the time. “So for us, it’s important to just keep pushing the records out so that we don’t lose our momentum.”

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About Classic Pop

Classic Pop magazine is the ultimate celebration of great pop and chart music. Each month we bring you the very best artist interviews and features, music news plus a packed reviews section. From the new wave acts of the late-70s through to the synth-pop, New Romantic, ska, indie and guitar greats of the 80s and chart stars of the 90s, it’s all here. We also bring the story bang up-to-date with new acts that have a retro flavour.