Colour by Numbers

Culture Club

1983: Virgin CDV 2285

  1. Karma Chameleon
  2. It’s a Miracle
  3. Black Money
  4. Changing Every Day
  5. That’s the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You)
  6. Church of the Poison Mind
  7. Miss Me Blind
  8. Mister Man
  9. Stormkeeper
  10. Victims

I have always loathed “Karma Chameleon”—which sounds like a syrupy pop reading of a George Harrison song, to me (and the video was worse)—but the bulk of the rest of this album I generally like, even though Boy George sings rather under the note’s pitch throughout (and his enunciation is spotty at best). The songcrafting is far from stellar, the only “standout” tracks that actually energize one consist of, uh, just “Church of the Poison Mind,” come to think of it, and most of this thing has a general wash of banal production values of its day.

Above all, though, my feeling about this album is “DAMN, does Helen Terry have a voice!!!” Wish I had a gal-pal singer with that kind of firepower to pair with…. Her tracks do grab, and “That’s the Way (I’m Only Trying to Help You)“ in particular transcends the overall blandness by introducing poignancy and contrast…only to be whacked aside by “Church of the Poison Mind” as Side 2 begins—perhaps providing a good argument in favor of the LP format as opposed to that of CDs, as the end of the first side’s last song provided an actual pause for the song’s mood and performances to sink in.