Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

December 25, 2010

Boy George ~ Cheapness & Beauty

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Style: dance, hard rock, glam, British
Label: Virgin
Year: 1995
Home: England

Members: Boy George ~ vocals
John Themis ~ guitar/b. vocals
Winston Blisset ~ bass
Tansay Ibrahim ~ drums
Mike Timothy ~ keyboards
Lady Zee, Linda Duggan ~ b. vocals
Martin Bell, Stefan Frank ~ percussion

Guest: Luis Jardim ~ ethnic percussion
Hossam Ramzy ~ mandolin/violin

Those who know the Boy only from Culture Club have missed out on his most diverse musical output, far different than the reggae-tinged sacrine dance pop he became famous for. His solo outings have ranged from androgenous dance a la the Club (i.e. Sold), theater songs (i.e. Taboo), DJ techno mixes (i.e. The Martyr Mixes), to acoustic gay & Hindu-themed love songs (i.e. Unrecoupable One Man Bandit) but Cheapness & Beauty remains an underlooked side avenue of guitar-driven hard rock that followed his successful single "The Crying Game". Though Unrecoupable One Man Band would follow from the same band, it was largely demos & acoustic live favorites & lacked the hard edge & completeness that Cheapness & Beauty had ... sadly, as this is a wonderful new face for the eternal boy of many faces. The song titles give it all as to the mood to expect: "Satan", "Sad", "God Don't Hold a Grudge", "Genocide", "If I Could Fly", "Evil Is So Civilized", "Blindman" "Unfinished Business" & "Funtime" penned by Iggy Pop & David Bowie. In many ways this might the more instrospective side of BG oft troubled life, albeit many of his songs have been introspective but always hidden under the androgynous image, tongue-in-cheek jestfulness & dance beat. The androgyny is still here but BG is allowing himself to musically cut loose in ways never before attempted. In his solo career BG let the gay themes flow more openly starting with this release, probably because not finding himself getting on the charts he didn't have to worry about what would keep him from it or what people would think of him, particularly obvious with the delightful transgendered anthem "Same Thing In Reverse". We expect BG to sing about sexuality & its comforting to hear him doing it finally. Glam influenced 80's rock guitars lace the album creating something more akin to Alice Cooper while BG doesn't change his soft singing style, considering glam is in many ways perfect for his style & the mix works well for the most part ... though if BG has a hard side to his persona it never comes out in his voice with rockin' out not a word in his vocabulary. While, underneath the rock edge is some diversity, to be pushed to the limit with Unrecoupable One Man Bandit, that never get enough appreciation including electronic bubbles in place of guitar solos (i.e. "Funtime"), soft ballads ("If I Could Fly", "Cheapness & Beauty", "Il Adore") while "Same Thing In Reverse" is actually a folksy tune with a violin & "Unfinished Business" has a mandolin strumming against an acoustic guitar & orchestra. This is a successful album but not successful in the desired financial way & thus BG found himself dropped from Virgin records & largely vanishing back to the underground where he started. It's shame because he really has a lot to offer beyond the make-up, but what started as an asset also became a straight-jacket because though glam has make-up'd lead singers ... not this type. For those that don't believe BG is good away from his old band or outside of a dance beat should be warned!

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