Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Culture Club--Karma Chameleon (1983)

     The term, "new romantics" refers to a sub culture of the new wave sound of the late 70's/early 80's. Actually they were more about fashion than music, but the music was always an important part of things as well. Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, ABC, and Culture Club were all a part of this sub-genre. Their love of fashion and distinctive visuals dovetailed headlong into MTV which gave all four bands the exposure they wouldn't have seen otherwise.
     None were more distinctive than George Alan O'Dowd or as he was known around the clubs, "Boy George". His androgynous style of dressing and use of make up became the center point about which the group swirled. People remember the group, but the mix of Caribbean, pop, and northern soul was why people still remember the music as it has held up much better than a lot of music of it's era.
     "Karma Chameleon" was a nonsensical song as was the song the proceeded it, "Church of the Poison Mind", but they were just as capable of doing songs that were deeply emotive and just downright beautiful. Try, "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me", or "Time (Clock of the Heart), for examples of that. However, "Chameleon" was the apex of their career. It's mix of different sounds, the visual of George in his coat of many colors on the TV screens singing on a riverboat was just pure fun.
     That fun belied tensions in the band that, along with George's drug addiction, couldn't keep everyone together for long. The band got together for an album in 1999, "Don't Mind if I Do", which is quite good The boys have confirmed they were recording material for release in 2012, but nothing has come of that as of yet.


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