Colour by Numbers

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This article is about the Culture Club album. For the artistic activity, see Color 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
Singles from Colour by Numbers
  1. "Church of the Poison Mind"
    Released: 1 April 1983 (UK)
    4 October 1983 (US)
  2. "Karma Chameleon"
    Released: September 1983 (UK), November 1983 (USA)
  3. "Victims"
    Released: November 1983 (UK)
  4. "Miss Me Blind"
    Released: 14 February 1984 (US)
  5. "It's a Miracle"
    Released: April 1984 (US)

Colour by Numbers is the second album by the British new wave band Culture Club, released in October 1983. Preceded by the hit single "Karma Chameleon", which reached number one in several countries, the album reached number one in the UK and has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide. It has been certified triple platinum in the UK and quadruple platinum in the US. It was ranked #96 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Best Albums of the 1980s and is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

In 2008, a promotional CD of the album was distributed by The Daily Mail newspaper.


The album has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide, and like its predecessor, Kissing to Be Clever, contains several hit singles. "Karma Chameleon", however, was the signature track from the album and was released in many countries, charting at #1 in many of them. "Church of the Poison Mind" reached #2 in the UK, and went top 10 in the USA, Canada, Australia and many European countries. "Miss Me Blind" was released in North America, South America, Japan, and Australia to great success (Top 5 in US and Canada), "It's A Miracle" became a Top 10 or Top 20 hit in several markets. "Victims" was released in Europe and Oceania and was a Top 5 hit in the UK and Australia, but was not released as a single in the US. "Mister Man" was also released as a single in South Africa.

The album was certified triple Platinum in the UK, Diamond in Canada, and 4x Platinum in the United States where it peaked at #2 for six consecutive weeks behind Michael Jackson's Thriller.

In 1989, Colour by Numbers was ranked #96 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 1980s.[1] The album is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

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, also featuring the remastered tracks and five bonus songs that were on the 2003 version.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[3]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3/5 stars[5]
Slant Magazine 4/5 stars[6]
Smash Hits 10/10[7]
The Village Voice B+[8]

Reviews for Colour by Numbers have been generally positive. Smash Hits magazine gave the album a rare 10 out of 10, with reviewer Peter Martin commenting "This is simply one of the most enjoyable records I've ever heard." Allmusic's Jose Promis retrospectively 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."[8]

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."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by O'Dowd/Moss/Craig/Hay, except "Karma Chameleon" and "It's a Miracle" composed by O'Dowd/Moss/Craig/Hay/Pickett.

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" (Suntory 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[edit]


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


Decade-end charts[edit]

Chart (1980–89) Position
Australian Albums Chart[9] 16


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[33] Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP)[34] Gold 336,300[35]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[36] Platinum 20,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 481,790[16]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[37] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[38] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[39] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release details[edit]

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


  1. ^ The Editors (1989-11-16). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980's". Rolling Stone. No. 565. 
  2. ^ a b Promis, Jose F. "Colour by Numbers – Culture Club". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  4. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (27 October 1983). "Culture Club: this Boy's the real thing". Rolling Stone (407): 77–79. 
  5. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 204–05. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  6. ^ a b Shetler, Scott (3 April 2005). "Culture Club: Colour by Numbers". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  7. ^ Martin, Peter (13 October 1983). "Culture Club: Colour By Numbers (Virgin)". Smash Hits. 5 (21): 44. 
  8. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (27 December 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0646119176. 
  10. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  11. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 39, No. 21". RPM. 1984-01-28. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  12. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  13. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 263. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5. 
  14. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  15. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  16. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4871310779. 
  17. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  18. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  19. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  20. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  21. ^ "Culture Club – Colour by Numbers –" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  22. ^ "Culture Club > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  23. ^ "allmusic ((( Colour by Numbers > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  24. ^ "Album Search: Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  25. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1983". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  26. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2014-04-04. 
  27. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  28. ^ a b articles with dead external links%5d%5d%5b%5bCategory:Articles with dead external links from February 2016%5d%5d[%5b%5bWikipedia:Link rot|dead link%5d%5d] "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts" Check |archiveurl= value (help). Archived from the original on 2012-01-11. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  29. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  30. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1984" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  31. ^ "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1984" [1984年アルバム年間ヒットチャート] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  32. ^ articles with dead external links%5d%5d%5b%5bCategory:Articles with dead external links from February 2016%5d%5d[%5b%5bWikipedia:Link rot|dead link%5d%5d] "Top Pop Albums of 1984" Check |archiveurl= value (help). 1984-12-31. Archived from the original on 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  33. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". Music Canada. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  34. ^ "French album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select CULTURE CLUB and click OK
  35. ^ "Les Albums Or". (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  36. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1990". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  37. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979–1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. 
  38. ^ "British album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2012-03-03.  Enter Colour by Numbers in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  39. ^ "American album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-03-03.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]