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Culture Club 2013 Is An Exciting Prospect

4 September 2012 16 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

This blog is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

It is difficult not to feel old when you think that it has been thirty years since British pop band Culture Club stormed the charts worldwide with one of their signature hits – the addictive and nostalgia-inducing “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”. Their debut album “Kissing to Be Clever” was also released in the same year. Fronted by the outrageous and “gender-bending” Boy George, the band was instantly launched into the upper echelons of Pop Music’s elite. Their sound was instantly recognizable and their look constitutes one of the most significant pieces of the imagery that characterizes pop culture of the 80s. The young lads are now in their 50s and are on the verge of celebrating their 30th anniversary with a tour and potentially a new album.

It is easy to dismiss Culture Club as being yet another band that is trying to capitalize on the nostalgia factor. With all the media frenzy that surrounded the band and Boy George’s public troubles, it is easy to forget that these guys were incredibly competenent musicians. I too have been guilty of forgetting about their competence as a band but my reminder was not their material from the 80s – but their 1998 album “Don’t Mind If I Do”. To the disappointment of many, the album was not released in the US. The promotion worldwide was less than stellar but it did spawn the UK chart hit “I Just Wanna Be Loved” (a mid-tempo reggae ballad). The album did not chart very high in the UK either. The real tragedy here lies in the fact that the band’s best material is on this album. I truly believe that if this album had been released in the post-internet era, things would have panned out very differently for Culture Club on a global scale. “Don’t Mind If I Do”became an unfortunate victim of music’s pre-internet era. Shining examples of the band’s artistry on this album include “Cold Shoulder”, “See Thru” and the haunting “Strange Voodoo”. Culture Club’s material from the 80s tends to get locked up in time whereas the songs on “Don’t Mind If I Do” transcend the musical boundaries that the 90s might have created. Here is a clip of a live performance of “Strange Voodoo” by Culture Club.

The performance above is a strong indication that at least on the dimension of artistic merit, the label of “80s band” is wildly inaccurate for a band like Culture Club. It is also a good reason to hope for strong material on the Culture Club album slated to be released in 2013 (and I seriously hope this project does not get shelved!). It appears that time away from each other causes the band members to gel even better musically when they are in a recording studio. Given that it has been 14 years since the release of “Don’t Mind If I Do”, there is a chance that “the distance” between the band members might act as a catalyst for their collective creativity. I do believe that this is not a lofty hope because the band performed a new mid-tempo song called “Universal Love” at Sydney Harbor on December 31, 2011 – and the song is absolutely brilliant. The chorus is very catchy and has a great “sing-along” feel to it. Boy George has obviously rediscovered his grasp of melody. He represents one of those rare instances in which the “disappearing youthfulness” in one’s voice actually enhances the musical product that the voice creates. Band-member Roy Hay also has a guitar solo section in the song that truly gives the song an edge. The background piano on the song adds a layer of sonic beauty that is virtually impossible to resist. “Universal Love” is already getting dangerously close to becoming one of my favorite Culture Club songs.

In a nutshell, new material by Culture Club in 2013 is absolutely worth getting excited for. If I have not given you enough reason to think so, here (below) is a full-length clip of Culture Club’s performance of “Universal Love” at Sydney Harbor.

What do you think of the song? Please feel free to comment below!

RADIO ALERT: Our radio station, Radio Creme Brulee is the ONLY American radio station (and possibly the only station in the world) that plays songs from Culture Club’s “Don’t Mind If I Do” album periodically. In fact, we play a LOT of material by artists/bands that emerged in the 80s and that continue to make groundbreaking and commercially viable music. Listen to our station from ANY part of the world by CLICKING on the button below.


16 Responses to "Culture Club 2013 Is An Exciting Prospect"

  1. Colleen says:

    I look foward to new music from boy george. Talent is enriched with time

  2. @Colleen: Thanks so much for the comment. Boy George’s solo material over the years has been a bit “hit or miss”. It definitely has its great moments – with songs such as “Amazing Grace”, “Love Hurts”, and “Run”(performed with Sash!). But somehow, the magic is not of the same order that it is when the four members of Culture Club get together. They proved they still had it with their last album “Don’t mind If I do”. Judging by their new song “Universal Love”, I think they can recreate that vibe on “Don’t mind if I do”.

  3. Davy says:

    “Universal Love” is a strong song and it may prove to sell well in the more mainstream market. George is my favourite singer and songwriter. Personally though I usually go for the less commercial things that George has put out over the years and I actually loved “From Luxury to Heartache” and “Don’t Mind if I Do” way better than Colour By Numbers, not that I have ever hated anything George has been connected too. I also loved his work on “American Heart” by Bliss. That man is a national gem. It’s too bad he has had so much trouble in the US market, not that he really cares. Anyway I am looking forward the the other tracks on the upcoming release.

  4. @Davy: I hope “Universal Love” gets the promotion it deserves. I know for a fact that we will give the songs loads of airplay on our radio station (you do know that this blog post part of a radio station blog right?). I too like some of George’s solo work – especially songs such as “Happy” (with DJ Yoda), “Amazing Grace”, and “Love Hurts”. I think Brit artists generally have trouble in the US market – thanks to the rather geocentric focus of terrestrial radio’s programming team. George Michael had a similar issue in the 90s in the US. Definitely holding my breath for the new Culture Club album.

  5. murray AU says:

    when the f!@#k will the albun be released …. if it ain’y soon …i’m afraid peter burns and co could have a new fan , especially if culture club lied to me !!!!!!

  6. @murray: I honestly don’t know. Things have gotten pretty quiet in the Culture Club camp. Sadly, I think they are slightly more reliable than our friend Mr. Pete Burns (rumor has it that he is working with one of the SAW guys) when it comes to putting out material. I too would be sorely disappointed if Culture Club did not release a new album this year – especially after hearing “Universal Love”.

  7. Frannie says:

    I read on a Boy George/CC website that the reunion and new album has been put on hold because they couldn’t agree on how to do the album or the tour unfortunately.
    George is supposed to release a solo album in September but that is supposed to be a reggae and jazz album, not a pop album. But who knows if that will ever come out. George isn’t that reliable as to putting out new material. He always promises something he never delivers.
    I guess I don’t have quite the high opinion of George as everyone else. He always demeans the other guys in the band saying they aren’t talented and acts ashamed of their music. For example, he hated Don’t Mind If I DO. He probably decided Universal Love was a horrible song.
    He seems mostly interested in being a house DJ and pumping out boring EDM remixes these days not writing any kind of decent songs anymore, as well as doing fashion and photography and other self indulgent projects.

  8. @Frannie: This is such a shame. I really had high hopes for Culture Club this year. I liked some of their 80s stuff but “Don’t Mind If I Do” is the album that really grabbed me and made me a fan. George had a single out last year called “Happy”. It is really good. We used to play it a lot on our radio station (you do know that this blog is affiliated with a radio station right?). I wonder why he hated “Don’t mind if I do”. I can’t imagine ANYONE hating “Universal Love”. Isn’t it a great song? I too am a bit put off with his excessive focus on being a house DJ. He is so much better than that. Thanks for the update though. We truly appreciate it. Just out of curiosity, how did you stumble on to our radio blog? We’d love to know!

  9. Frannie says:

    I saw your link on the popjustice forum where you post sometimes. I enjoy your posts there ,but I haven’t listened to your station yet, but I will check it out when I get the chance.

    Yes, I did hear Happy and I like that as well. That song was written by DJ Yoda who is not someone George usually works with. It seems to me he gets stuck working with the same few people recently as a solo artist who do the same things and don’t push him. It seems to me he works with them because they are his friends, not because they are that talented. George doesn’t deal with even constructive criticism well, so he likes people who just go on along with whatever he wants and don’t have opinions of their own. I don’t think he likes that the other members of CC have their own tastes and opinions that may not be the same as his.
    He did not like DMIID because he claimed it was dated and not in touch with the now by which I guess he means EDM. Or maybe he didn’t like it because it didn’t do well commercially. He seemed to like it at first, but then when it flopped he decided he didn’t like it. But you can’t really fit EDM/house into a band because a band by its nature is about playing instruments and EDM is all programmed.

    I like some dance/electronic music but the pop side of it that you can sing along with. His dance stuff of the 90’s like Generations of Love and When will you learn was good because it was more pop and relatable. I also like artists like Madonna, Gaga and Rihanna who do dance but in a poppy melodic way. But it seems to me he is caught up in the harder more techno side of EDM now and not the more pop side of it that I enjoy.

  10. @Frannie: I love popjustice! It is a music aficionado’s dream come true. I love how emotional its members get about the artists they love. It’s pretty insane – but entertaining regardless.

    I actually think DMIID is the most timeless album by Culture Club. If I ever get a chance to interview Boy George, I will let him know that. DMIID didn’t do well commercially because of the time at which it was released. They released that at the beginning of the 80s revival. They should waited it out a few years. Their reunion was not ill-conceived – just poorly timed.

    Dance/electronic embellishments are great for pop music. But a pure dance/electronic track does nothing for me. My fav solo tracks by Boy George are “Amazing Grace”, “Run”, and “Happy”. I also like “Love hurts”. Madonna is awesome – but I still think her best years are past her. 1984-1998 were her golden years in my humble opinion.

    Definitely give our radio station a spin when you get a chance. If it does not meet your expectations, feel free to let us know and be brutally frank! Thanks once again for the comment!

  11. Frannie says:

    I definitely still enjoy Madonna a lot. I didn’t like Hard Candy, but I really love Confessions and MDNA. I do like DMIID, but I have to be honest I’m not quite as big on it as you. Actually, my favorite record by them is From Luxury to Heartache, which George also kind of disowns.
    I guess I kind of like the fun youthful feel Culture Club had in the 80’s. Maybe I have bad taste in music, but I like my pop music to be more fun and lighthearted. For me, DMIID was a little too serious and mature. I know some people like that, but I miss the more fun joyous feel of the 80’s. I guess DMIID appeals more to people who like “timeless” artists like Adele but I find those artists a little bit boring. Also, I felt there was a little too much of the reggae based stuff rather than the more eclectic sound of some of their previous albums. I’m not a reggae fan, so as you can imagine I’m not too excited by George’s planned solo reggae album.

    Jon Moss, the drummer in Culture Club also said in an interview he felt DMIID departed from what CC was a little too much. Part of the problem with DMIID was that George brought in his solo band and they wrote a lot of the songs, not so much the original members of CC who were kind of pushed to the side. I guess maybe part of the reason he didn’t like it as much as his role in the music was reduced. I did hear George is writing some songs with Mikey, the CC bassist for his solo album. But I think musically the heart of the band is Roy Hay. He with George wrote most of the melodies on their biggest hits. I love his guitar work, it’s amazing on Universal Love. Maybe that’s my bias, though as I do like a lot of edgier guitar driven rock/indie type of stuff.

    I think they released it at the beginning of the 80’s nostalgia craze because that led people to be interested in them and therefore they were given money and the opportunity to do a record. So if they didn’t do it then, they might not have had a chance to do an album. Now, it seems people have sort of lost interest in the 80’s and there’s a craze for 90’s nostalgia. Maybe another reason the 2012 reunion didn’t happen is because there isn’t the interest in 80’s music now. I feel they are timeless but in the mind of a lot of the industry they are still seen as an 80’s band.

    I will check out your station. Do you ever play music by Kate Nash? I’m in love with her new record Girl Talk. It may be a little hard for your station as it’s kind of indie rock like Hole, but it does have some softer songs. It’s a great record, but it hasn’t gotten the praise it deserves.

  12. @Frannie: I expected to hate “Hard Candy” but I was surprised that I actually liked some of the songs – especially “Miles Away” (for me, it goes down as a Madonna essential). I actually did not fancy Confessions or MDNA at all – even though I did like “Masterpiece”.

    The early Culture Club songs that I like include “Victims” and “Time”. I agree that pop should be lighthearted but when it is slightly mature (without being boring), it gets VERY sexy. For instance, I loved what George Michael did on “Older”. I thought that entire album oozes sexiness and sophistication. I thought the same about Robbie Williams’ “Reality killed the video star” and Madonna’s “Erotica”. And as far as DMIID is concerned, I didn’t like the reggae tracks as much. The songs that really grabbed me are “Cold Shoulder”, “See Thru”, and “Strange Voodoo”. Interestingly enough, I find this stuff way more engaging than anything Adele has put out. She’s talented but not the most exciting.

    The Roy Hay-Boy George songwriting partnership was key to the band’s success. People underestimate Roy Hay’s role in the band – which is a shame. I just assumed he had a lot of songwriting input on DMIID since the material was really classy. I also imagined, judging by his guitar solo, that he had a lot to do with the overall sound of “Universal Love” (such a great song!).
    This song makes Culture Club feel more like a band as opposed to Boy George (+3).

    I don’t typically latch on to craze/fads. Good music is timeless and if a band has the capacity to churn out good material, it deserves to be heard. For instance, this year, Johnny Hates Jazz is returning with their first album in over 20 years. The new single “Magnetized” is brilliant. It doesn’t matter that its been 25 years since their hit single “Shattered Dreams”. The essence is still there.

    I would love some of the softer-edged recommendations by Kate Nash since I have not played anything by her so far. I will definitely let you know what I think of them. If you want, you can also send over the recommendations via our “Contact Us” page. Whatever suits you thought. Thanks once again for the detailed comment. I believe the comments are as critical as the blog post they revolve around.

  13. Frannie says:

    I love Miles Away! I also really liked Devil Doesn’t Recognize Me and Voices as well. I didn’t like the more R&B/hip hop influenced music on there. R&B/hip hop is one of my least liked forms of music. I don’t like Bedtime Stories for the same reason.

    I do like MDNA and Confessions. I guess I like dance stuff more than you. I like Masterpiece and ballads, but I tend to get bored with just those. I love George Michael’s voice, but I have to be honest I found Older quite dull.
    Totally agree with you about the reggae. But for some reason George loves that.
    Also agree with you about Roy’s big role. I think he did have a pretty big role in writing and producing DMIID. George in the media criticized Roy saying he messed up the album and basically it was Roy’s fault it flopped! It’s always been a struggle for people see them as a band. George has contributed to that by saying in interviews he wrote most of the stuff himself, which I don’t think is true.

    Here are three songs from Kate’s last album that I love. She had two previous albums but I never heard them. Just got into her with this album.

    3 a.m.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KtJYTyylps

    Oh My God
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnVLtqQxOFM

    Are you there Sweetheart?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEtNJosntB4

    Thanks for your interesting responses!

  14. @Frannie:
    Devil Would Recognize you is the last song from “Hard Candy” that I featured on high rotation on this station. The only song I really liked from “Bedtime stories” was “Take A Bow”. It had some other interesting moments but nothing that really grabbed me.

    I like dance-pop – but not pure beat-driven dance. Half the reason nightclubs have become less interesting for me in the last few years is because the music has moved away from dance-pop into more beat-driven dance. With regard to “Older”, I did not appreciate it much (except for “Fast Love” of course!) when it released. I was 14 at the time and simply didn’t get the music then. I fell in love with it a good six years later.

    As far as Culture Club is concerned, I know Roy Hay is doing quite well financially and I am guessing at least some of that has to do with the fact that he gets a large chunk of the songwriting royalties for Culture Club material. DMIID had nothing to do with Roy. Culture Club did not get any mainstream radio play at the time – and keep in mind, this was still a pre-internet era boom album so if radio did not pick up the singles, they were doomed on arrival at the time.

    Thanks so much for the Kate Nash tracks. I will check them out this afternoon. Thanks once again for the comments. They keep this page interesting!

  15. Jean-Michel says:

    For your information, this is not Culture Club! It is not Jon Moss at the drums, it is not Roy Hay playing the guitar!? Boy George is singing and Mickey Craig is playing the bass but they are the only 2 members of the original 4 piece group. I have been a fan since “Do you really want to hurt me” and I don’t think this song “Universal Love” is great! This is not the best songs by Culture Club and I am very sad to hear that you think it is. You have obviously not heard many of their past songs!

  16. @Jean-Michel: Thanks so much for the comment. Apparently, Jon Moss fell sick prior to the performance of “Universal Love”. Hence, he was unable to make it to the show. If you look closely, that IS Roy Hay playing the guitar. We’re actually very familar with the Culture Club catalog but will have to admit that we lean more towards their newer material – that benefits from a more timeless production. The older songs are timeless in terms of their melodies etc. but the production of the newer material does not get locked up in time – and we really do see that as a virtue. Thanks once again for the comment. We’re definitely curious to know how you discovered our radio station/blog.

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