63. Culture Club – ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ (1983)

“Watch me clinging to the beat
I had to fight to make it mine
That religion, you could sink in neat
Just move your feet and you’ll feel fine”

Written by Culture Club

Produced by Steve Levine

Taken from the album Colour By Numbers

Also released on This Time: The First Four Years, Spin Dazzle, The Best Of Boy George & Culture Club… At Worst, VH1 Storytellers/Greatest Moments, The Best Of Culture Club, Culture Club, Culture Club 2005: Singles & Remixes, Greatest Hits and Platinum

UK #2, AUS #4, US #10

Why does ‘Karma Chameleon’ get all the attention when ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ is clearly the better song? Motown throwbacks were all the rage in the mid-eighties, from ‘There Must Be An Angel’ to ‘True Blue’, and ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ is part of that trend. With a huge, relentless drum beat and a stupendous harmonica riff, this song manages to overcome the eighties “sound” and become timeless.

Boy George sounds better than ever here, more confident and assured as a vocalist. He duets with unofficial fifth Culture Club member Helen Terry on the chorus, their two voices strong and powerful in different ways, playing off each other. Like most other Culture Club singles, ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ is nothing more than perfect pop, with no delusions or need to be something it’s not.

The song has thinly veiled homosexual references (“Who am I to say that’s crazy love?”), and that amazing verse quoted above about fighting to make music yours and to be equal to everyone else. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what “church of the poison mind” is referring to, but with the cheery video and jaunty beat, you’d never have to guess unless you were really paying attention. That’s the best thing about ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’: it works as a song with a message, but it works as mindless nonsense too. Depending on what you’re after, the song has something for everyone.

Music video:

2 Responses to “63. Culture Club – ‘Church Of The Poison Mind’ (1983)”

  1. Walter Mason Says:

    Oh I love your blog so much! I must say I have never really read “Church of the Poison Mind” as a queer anthem, but dammit, it works!
    I was 13 when this came out, and I remember seeing George for the first time in this clip and thinking, “Wow! There are other people like me in the world!”
    He was an inspiration to a whole generation!

  2. James Morton Says:

    Very awesome article. Honest.

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