Colour by Numbers: Rolling Stone's #96 of 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s

Colour by Numbers
Studio album: Culture Club
Released: October 10, 1983
Genre: New wave, pop, blue-eyed soul

Colour by Numbers is the second album by the British new wave group Culture Club. It spawned four hits in the US:  "Church of the Poison Mind," "Karma Chameleon," "Miss Me Blind," and "It's a Miracle." In addition, "Victims" was released as a single in the UK. 

In 1989, Colour by Numbers was ranked number 96 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. It came in at number 7 among NME's list of "Albums of the Year" for 1983. The LP is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Church of the Poison Mind

"Church of the Poison Mind" was released as the lead single. In the United Kingdom, it reached Number 2 on the music chart. David Bowie's "Let's Dance" kept it from the top spot. In America, it was climbing the charts when Epic Records released "Karma Chameleon" ahead of schedule. "Church of the Poison Mind" peaked at Number 10 the same week "Karma Chameleon" debuted on the US charts. 

Boy George &  Helen Terry
Boy George &  Helen Terry

Helen Terry sang backing vocals on the song. AllMusic critic Stewart Mason wrote her "fiery performance of the chorus is a pop-song masterstroke." It was number 8 among the Top 10 "Tracks of the Year" for 1983 according to NME.


Karma Chameleon

"Karma Chameleon" was released in the United Kingdom in September 1983 and became the second Culture Club single to reach the top of the UK Singles Chart. It stayed at Number One for six weeks. In the US, it spent three weeks at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. The song won Best British Single at the 1984 Brit Awards

Boy George & John Moss
Boy George & John Moss

Boy George wrote the lyrics for Culture Club's songs. Some were inspired by his relationship with the group's drummer, Jon Moss, with whom he had an affair. "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" was about Moss, and so was the inspiration for the line, "You're my lover, not my rival" in "Karma Chameleon."  The writers of "Handy Man," a 1960 hit for Jimmy Jones, sued Culture Club for plagiarism. Boy George admitted, "I might have heard it once, but it was certainly not something I sat down and copied. We gave them ten pence and an apple."


Miss Me Blind

"Miss Me Blind" was the third single released from Colour by Numbers in the US. It peaked at Number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The lyrics speak of a love-gone-sour relationship, again inspired Boy George's relationship with drummer Jon Moss. The song includes a reference to the Culture Club's previous album. Front-man Boy George sings "But you know, I'm never really sure, If you're just kissing to be clever." Kissing To Be Clever was the name of Culture Club's debut album.


It's a Miracle

"It's a Miracle" is the final single from Culture Club's Colour by Numbers album. It peaked at Number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and reached Number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was first called "It's America," relating to Culture Club's first trip to the United States. That was changed.

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