Against the cynical, post-punk backdrop of the early Thatcher and Reagan era, Culture Club's
debut release Kissing to Be Clever
was as refreshing as a scoop of gelato in a heatwave. These were the innocent days when Boy George
could still declare he'd rather "have a cup of tea than sex," well before he hurtled to the brink of near self-destruction. Several of the cuts are still amazingly fresh and easily convey the winning charisma that transformed Boy George and his band into a pop icon. Songs like "I'll tumble 4 ya" and "Boy-Boy-I'm the Boy" seem tailor-made for the frontman's smooth-sliding tenor, while Mikey Craig's bass grooves pump with dance-til-you-drop Hi NRG. Although relatively brief (the original LP had one more cut than the CD release), the album stylistically hops like a Mexican jumping bean from disco funk to rhumba to reggae and contains obvious filler material. But the gender-bender flair perfected by Boy George announced a unique style that helped define the decade. --Thomas May
Another hit-heavy '80s classic: I'll Tumble 4 Ya; Do You Really Want to Hurt Me; White Boy (dance mix); bonus tracks Time (Clock of the Heart); Love Is Cold , and more!