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)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Culture Club ~ VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments (live/hits comp)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: pop
Label: Virgin
Year: 1998
Home: England (disbanded)

Members: Boy George ~ vocals
Roy Hay ~ guitar/keyboards/b. vocals
Mickey Craig ~ bass
Jon Moss ~ drums

Additional: John Themis ~ guitar/b. vocals
Richie Stevens ~ percussion
Zee Cowling ~ b. vocals
Ed Manion ~ sax
John Berry ~ trumpet
Tom Malone ~ trombone
Rob Paparozzi ~ harmonica

How can you not like CC? Okay, the Boy is a little strange, but he's not a bad singer. The songs are a little gay, but you know you like singing along. But, do the unimaginable & ignore the visuals, the history, the scandals & what you have is one of the best pop bands of the 80's. Memorable lyrics - that could be taken in so many ways, always a selling point - tied to a fun almost reggae tinted dance beat, songs you can sing along with, a lack of anything pretentious like guitar solos & intricate & far under-rated rhythms. The songs are still delightful today as they were upon their debut & its hard to say otherwise. They even stand up when covered by other bands. This CD brings together a live concert & a greatest hits package. It sounds great at 28 songs, but there's lots of duplication. Two hits i.e. "Everything I Own", "Karma Chameleon" & "Love Is Love") are not given a live work-out. But, four songs are not in the greatest hits, but include a couple highlights of the live show, perhaps because they're not so well known to us listeners & engrained in our minds. This includes the lesser known "Black Money" from their second album ... the one that featured "Karma Chameleon", you know ... & "Strange Voodoo" from their wondeful 1999 reunion album Don't Mind If I Do & sounds more akin to Boy George's solo work that's less pop & more moody with a heavy keyboard line. Then there's the piano & duel vocal "That's The Way (I'm Only Trying To Help You)", a beautiful ballad of only these three instruments that must be heard & is not what you'd expect from CC & the new "What Do You Want" that's complete reggae right down to the vocal phrasing, neither of these from any of their studio albums. Outside of the fan only song duplication, the problem with the Storytellers is a that the performances sound like the band just got off tour, not been apart for 13 years. There's no real spark of new life outside of "That's The Way (I'm Only Trying To Help You)". There's little moments here & there of something new (i.e. "I'll Tumble 4 Ya", "Miss Me Blind") & Boy George sounds as great as ever, but the band plays it safe beyond just adding a minute or so to everything. Of course, a reunion concert is a strange thing. Do you play it safe or play it adventurous? Do you play the records or something a little different reflecting of changing days? For the hardcore fan the differences will probably be noticeable, but I doubt for the casual fan. Though, the extended band beyond the core four do flesh out the songs & are a welcome edition. & the key to CC has always been some very simple sound arrangements that are more simple then they are. But, I've always preferred a live show that offered something other than the album. In terms of a Storytellers episode there's been better. Where Meat Loaf or others might have been wordy with their banter, Boy George keeps it modest & light & under-whelming. There's no big lyrical revelations here, which is what many expect from this MTV series. This might have been better as a plain old fashioned reunion special. It would also have been interesting to dig out some obscure songs ... but CC really has a lot of hits so there's little room left once they include the new songs. So, is there an incentive to listen to this live show? Well, personally, I'd recommend getting the video. That's fun. Particularly as all but Boy have dumped the clown suits & bad haircuts I always found distracting. Boy is a costume master, whatever the era or intake of drugs, I just never rated the rest of the boys that highly as fashion models. As for the Greatest Moments ... it is exactly what it says! I always enjoy when I pull out my CC & the hits is probably the better way to go than the individual albums. I think what I always enjoyed was that little ethnic beat that makes their music more than just straight pop. & have you listened to Mikey Craig's bass playing? He's all over the place & pretty much the primary melody instrument. It's hardcore funk George Clinton would be proud of. Then, there's "The Crying Game" & "Victims" ... How can you not weep at these?

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