Review Summary: Culture Club proves that flamboyance is not always used as gimmickry.
Culture Club exploded into the mainstream in the early 1980’s, their debut effort “Kissing To Be Clever” received initial praise which also had 4 hit singles that topped the charts. Fronted by the Über-flamboyant singer, Boy George, who brought a unique and soft soulful voice that would power the band through the radiowaves.
Kissing To Be Clever can be described as a mixture of different parts of diverse genres. Such as soul and reggae, which would be expanded more in their sophomore release, “Colour By Numbers”. The number one hit and arguably the best track on the album, “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” proves just how beautifully simple Culture Club can be, with its catchy chorus, a modest drum beat and a soothing guitar line demonstrates that complexity does not always mean it’s good. Boy George brings the emotion needed for the listener to feel what exactly he is trying to communicate.
Culture Club is not always so simple, but they are catchy. The danceability factor is strong in numerous songs, for example, in the song “I’m Afraid Of Me”, it carries a disco-like beat throughout the track, which provides a jumpy atmosphere that would be perfect for a club. But it is again the singing that is the focal point that is hugely complimented by the instruments and sets the bar high for other new wave artists.
The reggae influence can be heard sprinkled all around the majority of the tracks, such as “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”, which is another “jumpy’ disco sing-a-long track which will have you unknowingly singing along with the chorus by the end for the track. That’s the magic with those soft soulful vocals, they can have to singing along with it because whatever Boy George sings about in this album is so damn catchy.
There are some tracks that don’t hold up as well as the others such as, “Love Twist” which features a reggae artist, Captain Crucial. Even though Culture Club is influenced by reggae, the heavier reggae parts on this specific track seems so out of the place and it is extremely distracting.
Culture Club was a huge new wave group in the early eighties, which sadly disintegrated by the latter half of the decade. “Kissing To Be Clever” is home to some of the biggest and best singles of 1982 and it still stands the test of time. With the classic soulful voice of young Boy George and the disco, reggae inspired beats and rhythm that the backing band provides, brings a new view of the 80’s dominating genre.