Colour by Numbers

Colour by Numbers
Colour by Numbers
Studio album by Culture Club
Released October 1983
Recorded 1983
Genre New Wave
Length 38:15
57:51 (2003 remaster)
Label Virgin
Producer Steve Levine
Culture Club chronology
Kissing to Be Clever
Colour by Numbers
Waking Up with the House on Fire

Colour by Numbers is the second album by New Wave band Culture Club, released in 1983.



The album features several international hits such as "Church of the Poison Mind" and the worldwide hit "Karma Chameleon" which had sales of over one million in the United Kingdom alone. Colour by Numbers showcased the vocal talents of Helen Terry alongside Boy George, and chartwise improved upon the successful formula of Culture Club's début album Kissing to Be Clever.

In 1989, Colour by Numbers was ranked #96 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s. The album is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The album has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and, like its predecessor, contained several hit singles. Released worldwide "Church of the Poison Mind" went Top 10 in UK, USA, Canada, Australia and many European countries. "Karma Chameleon", however, was the signature track from the album and charted #1 almost everywhere. "Victims" was released in Europe and Oceania and was a hit in several countries, including top five hit in the UK and Australia. "Miss Me Blind" was released in North America, South America, Japan, and Australia to great success (Top 5 in US and Canada), and "It's A Miracle" was issued next almost everywhere, becoming a Top 10 or Top 20 hit in several markets. "Mister Man" was released as a single in South Africa.

The album went gold, platinum, or multi-platinum in many countries. It went 4x platinum in the United States at its time of release (more than 4 million copies sold) and peaked at #2 (behind Michael Jackson's Thriller). In Canada, Culture Club was the first group to have a diamond album in that country (10x platinum or one million copies sold).[1]

In an interview in 1998, the four members of Culture Club agreed that "Colour By Numbers" was their best work. It was remastered in 2002 and 2003, for the Culture Club box set and for a re-release of the album. In 2005, the album was also released in Japan in a cardboard sleeve, similar to the original vinyl artwork, featuring also the remastered tracks and five bonus songs like the 2003 version.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [2]
Robert Christgau (B+)[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[4]
Slant 4/5 stars[5]

Reviews for Colour by Numbers have been generally positive. Allmusic's Jose Promis rated the album four-and-a-half out of five stars. He noted: "The songs were infectious, the videos were all over MTV, and the band was a media magnet." He explained that it was "flamboyant, fun, sexy, soulful, colorful, androgynous, and carefree" like other 1980s music. He concluded by calling it "the artistic and commercial pinnacle of a band that still attracted new fans years later."[2] Robert Christgau rated it a B+, explaining that "[Boy] George's warm, well-meaning, slightly clumsy croon signifies most effectively when it has the least to say – when it's most purely a medium for his warm, well-meaning, slightly clumsy self." He also stated that "his real aim in life is to reenact the story of the ugly duckling – and to radiate the kind of extreme tolerance that's so often engendered by extreme sexual ambiguity."[3] Stephen Holden of Rolling Stone rated it four out of five stars. He explained that it "secures lead singer Boy George's place as a blue-eyed soul balladeer in the first rank." He also stated that it "has gobs of emotion plastered as thickly as Boy George's makeup, and ten tunes that stick." Although he stated that it "is by no means a weighty album", he concluded by saying: "Whether you like the band or not, Culture Club is one pop group that matters."[4] Scott Shetler of Slant Magazine also rated it four out of five stars, noting that "Culture Club hit their stride, and the influence of its 10 colorful songs can still be felt today." He explained that "its greatness can be measured by the fact that its album tracks are just as good as its singles." Although he stated that "simply describing [it] as a "catchy pop record" would be a mistake", he concluded by saying: "[I]n the end, Colour By Numbers is an album that needs no tinkering."[5]

Track listing

All tracks composed by Culture Club

Side One

  1. "Karma Chameleon" – 4:12
  2. "It's a Miracle" – 3:25
  3. "Black Money" – 5:19
  4. "Changing Every Day" – 3:17
  5. "That's the Way (I'm Only Trying to Help You)" – 2:45

Side Two

  1. "Church of the Poison Mind" – 3:30
  2. "Miss Me Blind" – 4:30
  3. "Mister Man" – 3:36
  4. "Stormkeeper" – 2:46
  5. "Victims" – 4:55

2003 CD Bonus tracks

  1. "Man-Shake" – 2:34
  2. "Mystery Boy" (Suntori Hot Whiskey Song) – 3:33
  3. "Melting Pot" – 4:31
  4. "Colour by Numbers" – 3:57
  5. "Romance Revisited" – 5:00

"Time (Clock Of The Heart)" was included in Japanese vinyl pressings.


Additional musicians

  • Judd Lander – harmonica
  • Phil Pickett – keyboards, background vocals
  • Steve Grainger – saxophone
  • Patrick Seymour – flute
  • Helen Terry – backing vocals
  • Graham Broad – percussion
  • Trevor Bastow – string arrangements
  • Jermaine Stewart – backing vocals
  • Terry Bailey – trumpet


  • Steve Levine – Producer, digital mixing
  • Simon Humphrey – Engineer
  • Gordon Milne – Engineer
  • Tim Young – Mastering
  • Jon Moss – Digital mixing
  • Mike Ross – String engineer



Chart (1983) Peak
UK Albums Chart 1
U.S. Billboard 200 2
U.S. Top R&B Albums 7
Australian Albums Chart 1
Japan Oricon Albums Chart 1
Chart (1984) Peak
Australian Albums Chart 1


Chart (1983/1984) Single Position
"Church of the Poison Mind" UK Singles Chart 2
"Church of the Poison Mind" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 10
"Karma Chameleon" UK Singles Chart 1
"Karma Chameleon" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
"Karma Chameleon" U.S. R&B Chart 67
"Karma Chameleon" U.S. Adult Contemporary 3
"Victims" UK Singles Chart 3
"It's a Miracle" UK Singles Chart 4
"It's a Miracle" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 13
"It's a Miracle" U.S. Adult Contemporary 8
"Miss Me Blind" U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5

Release details

Country Date Label Format Catalog
1983 Virgin CD 91391-2
LP 39170
1990 CD V2-86180
2003 CD 92408


  1. ^ Music Canada, Gold Platinum Database.
  2. ^ a b Promis, Jose F.. Colour by Numbers - Culture Club at Allmusic. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  3. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Culture Club". The Village Voice. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (October 1983). "Culture Club: this Boy's the real thing". Rolling Stone (407): 77–79. 
  5. ^ a b Shetler, Scott (3 April 2005). "Culture Club: Colour by Numbers". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 

External links

Preceded by
Genesis by Genesis
Can't Slow Down by Lionel Richie
UK number-one album
22 October 1983 – 11 November 1983
19 November 1983 – 2 December 1983
Succeeded by
Can't Slow Down by Lionel Richie
Seven and the Ragged Tiger by Duran Duran
Preceded by
The Best of Joe Cocker by Joe Cocker
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
24 October 1983 – 7 November 1983
30 July 1984 – 12 August 1984
Succeeded by
1983 ... Summer Breaks by Various Artists

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