Culture Club returns with a new U2-esque single
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Culture Club returns with a new U2-esque single

5 November 2014 16 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

cultureclub-new2014“Nostalgia has a shelf life” – said Boy George – the magnetic and flamboyant frontman of Culture Club when we interviewed him in October 2014. Bands reuniting for the sole purpose of touring in an attempt to resurrect their glory days is a fairly commonplace phenomenon these days. The idea is not ill-conceived by any stretch but its commercial sustainability is limited at best. Fortunately, 80s reggae-soul pop phenomenon Culture Club understand this reality as they stage their second reunion (the first one being in 1998) since their 80s heyday and grow their musical legacy.

Boy George has been teasing snippets of tracks slated to be featured on “Tribes” – the new Culture Club album – their first in 17 years. The sonic template of the band has shifted dramatically since the 80s. While Culture Club’s musical output was a culmination of the artistic merits of four incredibly talented men, it always seemed that Boy George was the band’s focal point and the other three were never given their due by the public. A lot of this might have to do with the final treatment of the music. With the new tracks, things are different. The “band” feel of Culture Club is a lot more apparent. It gives the band an additional layer of credibility that they have have not had in the 80s.

The songs boast a stylistic diversity that might not have been as apparent on the band’s earlier albums. The snippets that have surfaced so far range from the funk-oriented “Like I used to” to the “Victims-esque Just Like 73“. Culture Club even makes the foray into “Johnny Cash” territory with “Runaway train“. In a nutshell, the bits of the new album that we have heard sound very promising and have the potential to pave the way for the resurgence of one of the biggest acts of the 80s.

The album’s lead single “More Than Silence” saw the light of day yesterday and has already released for download/sale. On this track, Culture Club sheds the reggae-soul cloak in favor of a sound that is reminiscent of Irish rockers U2’s sonic blueprint – unadulterated rock characterized by the driving pulse of the bass, a tiny tinge of electronic embellishments, and a soaring chorus. Boy George’s voice is now characterized by a huskiness that may have not worked as well for his earlier material but is very well-suited to the new material. This song showcases yet another facet of the band’s versatility.

On “More Than Silence“, Boy George delves into the complicated nature of relationships that artists engage in by virtue of their constant need for an audience. For some odd reason, the second verse seems almost identical to the first verse – which can be perceived as a somewhat lazy approach to the lyrical component of the song – but it does not detract from the song at all. The chorus is big.

I could use a little more than silence
Just three words that echo in my heart
I could use a little more than silence
Silence is the moon in a lonely sky

While we are excited by Culture Club’s return to the pop music landscape, we believe they may have taken an ultra-safe approach by choosing “More Than Silence” as their lead single. While the band is bound to woo critics for their stylistic reinvention, they may have sacrificed the opportunity to showcase their rejuvenated spunk which manifests itself far better on some of the other tracks form the new album – most notably “Like I used to“. Most artists or bands release the album’s strongest track as its lead single. This is clearly not the case for Culture Club’s “Tribes“. ‘More than silence” should be seen as nothing more than an appetizer since the main course that the album “Tribes” is will represent a sumptuous auditory feast that will make fans and skeptics wonder what took the band so long to get back together.

The new album “Tribes” is slated for release in April 2015 and can be ordered right away via Pledgemusic. Click HERE to order. Until then, here is a full-length clip of Culture Club’s new single “More Than Silence“:

STAR RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Culture Club & Boy George is a regular staple on Radio Creme Brulee. Currently “More Than Silence” by Culture Club is getting 5 plays a day on our station.

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16 Responses to "Culture Club returns with a new U2-esque single"

  1. Frannie says:

    Great well written review. I agree with everything you wrote. I don’t know if it’s a safe choice though. I feel as though they sort of reinvented themselves too much. To me it sounds nothing like Culture Club, but more like U2. I like when older artists change or modernize themselves a little bit, but still retain the essence of who they are and stay within the same genre of music and sound like themselves. I feel this single does not capture the essence of Culture Club to me.
    I agree Like I Used to would have been a much better single. That could even be remixed so it could perhaps make an impact on dance/club charts which often could be a good avenue for older artists to get their music heard. That song as you said has more spunk and actually the funk sound is something that was more in their older music and sounds like a more natural evolution.

  2. David Murphy says:

    I love Culture Clubs new material from what i have heard so far. Good strong tracks. Culture Club always did move with the times. All of their albums were different from the last, and you never quite know what to expect from the next which is exciting. As George says, they have always been eclectic in style. Each album has showcased their versatility to successfully write and record great tracks from a wide selection of genres. ‘Tribes’ so far sounds to be only proof that this runaway train has plenty of colourful steam left. ‘More Than Silence’ is a powerful thumping experience and i think it will attract widespread appeal. A great taster of the treats to come. This forthcoming tour has so much enthusiasm and excitement around it, its great to see this wonderful band back where they belong! History in the making.

  3. @Frannie: Thank you so much for your comment! I am not sure what the intuition behind picking ‘More than silence” as a lead single was. I think it offers that element of surprise because of its U2-esque sound but not sure if it will grab the casual fan in the same way that a U2 track does. I think the song is pleasant enough but is not representative of the brilliance that will undoubtedly follow. I hope there is a second single slated for release prior to the full album release in April.

  4. @David Murphy: I think the most noteworthy aspect of the new tracks is the way in which they showcase Culture Club as a “band” as opposed to the Boy George show (which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch). We are watching the show at the Beacon Theatre in three weeks and can barely wait. We hope Culture Club can really get a chance at some mainstream exposure and not succumb to the ageist bias that seems to dominate modern pop music’s mainstream.

  5. Frannie says:

    Well, U2 doesn’t grab that many people these days either. Their music isn’t really played on the radio anymore. They had to give the album away because no one was interested. It actually sort of sounds like the Verve, who were produced by Youth who did this album. So perhaps the sound of it was partly his idea. George said in an interview Roy always wanted to rock and so he wanted to create a song for him to rock out on. I don’t mind them doing a rock track but it seems odd to choose it as the first single. Rock is very fun to play live so maybe that is part of their thinking in doing a song like this. Jon Moss has been in a lot of rock and punk type of bands before and after CC.

    I agree with you that the new tracks do showcase them as a band and so did the clips I saw of their live concert they did in London recently.
    Enjoy the concert and I hope to hear your review. I’m jealous! They aren’t coming to my city on this tour. I did see Boy George solo which I told you before I didn’t enjoy. The CC concert has to be better than that. Silence would be better than that! So the concert will be “More than Silence” for sure!
    They are also going to be performing the single on the View tomorrow.

  6. @Frannie: I feel sorry for U2. They were brilliant in the 80s, lackluster in the 90s, and they regained their brilliance in the 2000s. I truly believe that “no line on the horizon” tanked because of their god-awful choice for a lead single for the album. They should have picked “Magnificent” instead of “get on your boots”. Based on the Apple fiasco, I think it is a fair assertion that U2 is just not as cool as they were anymore – at least not to the masses.

    For Culture Club, I think of the single was stronger, it may have not been a bad idea. Artists and bands get a lot of points for reinvention. I remember the fanfare around Madonna’s reinvention in 1998 when she released “Frozen”. But then again, the first single should have been the strongest of the new songs and it looks like this one wasn’t.

    Definitely looking forward to the 25th of this month. Watching the guys at the Beacon Theater. I guess I will have to stay up late that night to complete the review. If I don’t post it by the 26th, it will be old news!

    Did not realize they were performing on “The View”. I need to check that out. The only time I have ever watched that show was 10 years ago when George Michael performed on it. As always, thank you so much for the discussion on our blog posts. It gives us a LOT of food for thought.

  7. Frannie says:

    Just saw them on the View. They did More than Silence and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me. It was great. I enjoyed it a lot. George looked wonderful, and the rest of the band particularly Jon seemed to be having a lot of fun. Rock based music is a lot of fun to play, Jon seemed to be having a lot of fun with the more high energy drumming.It definitely made me like the song a lot more. I think they are also going to be on David Letterman soon.

    I think a lot of people including me have said they are bored with the reggae and are tired of that. So I think maybe they were influenced by that to release a different type of song.

  8. @Frannie: I wonder what it is about this reunion that gave these guys the promotional clout to perform on shows like “Strictly come dancing” and “The View”. Somehow, they did not have this when they reunited for “Don’t mind if I do”. I think fans in general do not want more of the reggae so I think they’ve been heard loud and clear. “More than silence” might be an overt response to that need of fans.

  9. Frannie says:

    George is friends with Rosie O’Donnell who produced Taboo who is on the View. I’m sure she helped get them on the show. Also, George now has a new manager who also worked with him on his last solo album. The new manager does a good job of promotion and being more professional and making sure stuff actually gets released. I always thought their old manager did a very poor job of managing both them and George’s solo career. They were one of the most successful bands of the 80’s but it always seemed they didn’t get the promotion of people like Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet which annoyed me. Their new manager is doing an excellent job.

  10. Frannie says:

    We were saying this is different for CC. Maybe from the 80’s but during the last reunion, they did a cover of Starman by David Bowie and this song has simliar instrumentation so it’s really not that different as it may seem at first.

  11. John says:

    I’m a huge Culture Club/ Boy George fan. I think More Than Silence is an excellent song and single choice. It’s catchy, radio-friendly and different. I think its “U2-ness” dissipates after repeatedly listens and it just stands on its own as a great pop-rock song in its own right. Culture Club has jammed out on Hello Goodbye and The Dive in the past and George of course rocked the house on Cheapness and Beauty so it isn’t like it’s totally foreign that they try on new styles. I love this song and think some of the comments on here aren’t appreciative enough of what a good tune this actually is. I’ve got my thumb turned up. Love it

  12. @Frannie: Didn’t Taboo tank in the US? I am guessing the new management is doing a far better job now than they did with “Don’t mind if I do”. Can’t even start to imagine why that album was not released in the US. I guess the US music scene was also pretty bad at that time – so the label must have figured that it was a bad time to relaunch a veteran artist in the US at the time. Duran Duran never really went away (although they were reduced to a three-piece for their “Pop trash” album) so they didn’t really require a relaunch. Spandau Ballet and the fanfare around their relaunch is definitely a surprise.

  13. @John: We definitely like “More than silence” – which is why we are giving it 5 spins a day on our radio station (definitely tune in to our broadcast if you get a chance). I guess we just feel like of the new material that Culture Club has put together (and they’ve really recorded some amazing stuff), we’re not necessarily sure if “more than silence” was the strongest of the lot but it is radio-friendly. No doubt about that.

  14. Frannie says:

    John, I’m liking More than Silence a lot more than when I first heard it.. It really does grow on you if you don’t have expectations about what a CC sound should sound like.
    I think with Don’t Mind If I Do the problem was with their record label Virgin which messed up the US release. Now they are on their own label so they don’t have to worry about that. I read that Virgin wanted Don’t Mind If I Do remixed from the original version and the band and Virgin couldn’t agree on how the remixes should sound. It was surprising because a lot of other 80’s groups who are a lot more obscure than CC and have fewer hits do get their albums released in the US.

  15. @Frannie: I’ll bet they wanted to do an R&B version of “Don’t mind if I do” for the US market – which would have definitely chipped away at the album. There is nothing bad about R&B but not every piece of music requires that type of treatment from a production standpoint. The more obscure acts that get released in the US are typically independent. Territory-specific releases are more a phenomenon of folks on major labels.

  16. Frannie says:

    Really? I don’t know if most Boy George and CC fans like R&B. I had a feeling they wanted to do more of a dance album. With George being gay they probably wanted to market to the gay community in the US. And there’s this stereotype that gay people only like dance music which is not true. There are some “gay” Internet radio stations, but really they are just dance stations since they play nothing but dance/house remix type of music. I feel the same way about dance music, its’ not bad, I like some of that, but not every song needs a club remix or lends itself to one.

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