Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Boy George - Cheapness And Beauty CD

The recent news of Boy George's drug troubles in New York made me dig this CD out, which was released ten years ago. Cheapness And Beauty was meant to be a companion piece to his autobiography Take It Like a Man. Both came out in 1995. Here he broke from his dance-oriented past and made a largely glam-rock sounding album. Mostly written by him and guitarist John Themis, it kicks off with an cool ELO-sounding cover of Iggy Pop's "Funtime." Once the shock of his working in a different genre wore off, one is surprised how well he handles his new musical style, such as on "Genocide Peroxide," which is about his old-club (and drug) buddy and rival pop-wannabe Marilyn. (That song is my favorite track from that album.) He does slow it down for two mid-tempo folkie-sounding numbers ("Same Thing In Reverse" and the title track) and three ballads, which included "Il Adore," a tribute to makeup-artist friend Stevie Hughes.

When the album was released on August 29, 1995, it was not a commercial success. Some of the fans of his past dance work were confused by the new rock direction. (Though both "Funtime" and "Same Thing In Reverse" were remixed for the dancefloors.) His rock songs wouldn't have been out of place on the American modern rock/"alternative" radio stations (which was starting to suffer with the increase of sound-alike bands) if Boy's record company Virgin would have bothered to go that route, but they saw him too much as a 80s pop artist to make a credible move. Having a record that fell in between genres, Virgin lost interest in Cheapness And Beauty. And while Boy George was in the middle of his US tour during the fall of 1995, he spilt from the label.

I think that it was a shame that this record wasn't more popular, since Boy was going a different change of pace. I'm not saying that this is a perfect album--a couple of the numbers do fall flat--but I do think that overall he was credible at it. It's currently not in print, but you can get used copies of this from sites like and

A couple of side notes...Boy George and John Themis would record some more material from Janurary to March 1996 but it wouldn't be released until 1999 with the Unrecoupable One Man Bandit, Vol. 1 CD compilation on the Finetune label. And a few years later both "Genocide Peroxide" and "Il Adore" would be revived and put into Boy's West End and Broadway productions of his musical play Taboo.


Blogger hot-lunch said...

Taboo... yikes... that's 2 hours of my life i'll never get back! though, the guy playing Boy George in the show (Euan Morton) was a perfect doppleganger!!

10:16 PM  
Blogger The Divine Ms. Jimmi said...

I am saddened that Boy George has been living off the artistic coatails of Leigh Bowery of late. I am saddened even more he is back on drugs.

I loved his book and have read it many times over. Cheapness and Beauty was uneven but I did like it. I really love the music Boy did as Jesus Loves You. It is some of the best, underated dance music ever produced by Boy since Culture Club.

1:05 AM  

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