Church of the Musical Cluster F*CK
“Church of the Poisoned Mind” by Culture Club from the album Colour by NumbersFifth Week of March, 1983
For this one Boy George & co. brought in a gospel-esque backup singer,
a tambourine player, a horn section, and a harmonica player, because,
see, the song is called “CHURCH of the Poisoned Mind,” and so I guess
they wanted it to sound like a church, I’m assuming a Southern Baptist
church, or Boy George’s idea of a Southern Baptist church. It’s
definitely not a Catholic church, I know that much, because George
Michael was right about guilty feet not having any rhythm (which
explains why I can’t dance).
The major problem with this song is that Culture Club doesn’t drop
those too-tight new-wave synthy beats, so the Southern Baptist backup
business doesn’t rouse me like it should – in this context, a
harmonica sounds like a stray animal trapped in an affluent housing
development. Which is not to say I don’t like it per se, it just seems
a little lost, and I want to call a warden to rescue it. The more I
listened to this song the more it bummed me out. Even Boy George
sounds halfhearted, as though his mind is wandering the way my mind
used to wander during the homily. So I turned to my friend the
internet for some information.
Turns out Boy George was having a secret and tumultuous affair with
his drummer Jon Moss during the recording of “Colour by Numbers,” a
fact that was probably well-known to Culture Club fans, but not known
to me (I may not be able to dance, but I prefer Duran Duran, or Wham!,
for that matter). Knowing this trivia sheds a whole new light on
“Church of the Poisoned Mind” – the second verse begins “watch me
clinging to the beat / I had to fight to make it mine.” Oho! Poor
George. I appreciate his attempt at confession, but in the end, I
think I’d rather hear “On Eagles’ Wings” one more time.
Best part: when the harmonica goes away.
- Mary Phillips-Sandy