Waking Up with the House on Fire

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Waking Up with the House on Fire
Studio album by Culture Club
Released October 25, 1984
Recorded 1984 at Red Bus Studios, London[1]
Genre New wave
Length 36:52
Label Virgin/Epic Records
Producer Steve Levine
Culture Club chronology
Colour by Numbers
(1983)Colour by Numbers1983
Waking Up with the House on Fire
From Luxury to Heartache
(1986)From Luxury to Heartache1986
Singles from Waking Up with the House on Fire
  1. "The War Song"
    Released: September 1984
  2. "The Medal Song"
    Released: November 1984 (UK, Japan, Europe)
  3. "Mistake No. 3"
    Released: December 1984 (US, Canada, Australia, Africa)

Waking Up with the House on Fire is the third album by the English new wave band Culture Club, released on 25 October 1984.[2] In America, it was the group's third consecutive Platinum-certified album.


Despite a strong first single, "The War Song", which became a No. 2 hit in the UK and a Top 20 hit in the US in late 1984, the album didn't achieve the level of success expected. While Waking Up with the House on Fire reached Platinum status in both the UK and the US, it was considered to be a disappointment compared to the success of the group's previous album, Colour by Numbers (1983). It sold approximately five million copies worldwide[citation needed], being certified gold or platinum in many countries, and earning Double Platinum status in Canada.

The other two singles were "The Medal Song" (#32 in UK), (with its B-side, "Don't Go Down That Street" being released as a single from a subsequent EP in Japan but only reaching No. 69 in the charts) and "Mistake No.3" (#33 in US). In Mexico, "Don't Talk About It" was released as a single.

On the VH1 program Behind the Music, the narrator states, "Today, the band admits the album was a hurried and halfhearted effort." Many music insiders also feel that Culture Club and Boy George may have fallen victim to overexposure in both the British and American press by the end of 1984. Subsequently, Culture Club decided to change direction for the next album, From Luxury to Heartache, by choosing a new producer and moving in a dance-oriented direction.

In 2008, the album was re-released in Japan, as a special collector "mini-LP" edition (a CD in a cardboard sleeve (featuring booklets) as a miniature version of the original vinyl album).

The album's cover can be seen in the 2008 film Sex and the City as part of Carrie Bradshaw's collection of LPs from the 1980s.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Smash Hits 4/10 stars[3]
Allmusic 2/5 stars[4]
Robert Christgau (B)[5]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[6]

Reviews for Waking Up with the House on Fire have been fairly negative. In Smash Hits magazine, reviewer Tom Hibbert stated the album was "a disaster of mediocrity" and that the majority of the tracks were "a characterless stodge of bland blue-eyed soul, slouching rhythms, pedestrian horns and nonchalant vocals...".[3] Allmusic's Lindsay Planer retrospectively rated the album two out of five stars. He noted that "overexposure in the media, the ever-changing tides and trends of pop music, and, quite frankly, a less than laudable collection of songs resulted in [the album] receiving a less than enthusiastic response." He also explained that it "was in no way aided by the irony-laden yet undeniable banality of the emphasis track [...], "The War Song"." However, he stated: "Two of the more interesting cuts are the vintage R&B "Crime Time" and the upbeat and soulful "Mannequin," blending Beach Boys-esque vocal harmonies with a distinctly Carolina beach and shag flavour."[4] Robert Christgau rated it a B, stating: "Since I had even less use for the dismissive because-he-wears-dresses theory than for the ridiculous new-Smokey analysis, I could never figure out [Boy George's] means of commercial propulsion". He also stated that "this calls for concerted protest – which might be easier to whip up if the latest album weren't part three of more-of-the-same."[5]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Culture Club

Side one
  1. "Dangerous Man" – 4:14
  2. "The War Song" – 4:13
  3. "Unfortunate Thing" – 3:08
  4. "Crime Time" – 2:59
  5. "Mistake No. 3" – 4:36
Side two
  1. "The Dive" – 3:47
  2. "The Medal Song" – 4:15
  3. "Don't Talk About It" – 3:17
  4. "Mannequin" – 2:53
  5. "Hello Goodbye" – 3:25
Bonus tracks (2003 CD re-issue)
  1. "La Cancion de Guerra" – 4:04
  2. "Love Is Love" – 3:51
  3. "The Dream" – 2:29
  4. "Don't Go Down That Street" – 6:34

The Chilean cassette edition starts with an extended version of "The War Song".


Additional musicians[edit]

  • Phil Pickett – keyboards, background vocals
  • Steve Grainger – saxophone
  • Kenneth McGregor – trombone
  • Ron Williams – trumpet
  • Helen Terry – backing vocals
  • Imogen Exton – backing vocals
  • Derek Green – backing vocals
  • Alice Kemp – backing vocals
  • Andriana Loizou – backing vocals
  • Alanda Marchant – backing vocals
  • Nancy Peppers – backing vocals
  • Christopher Rainbow – backing vocals
  • Louis Rogers – backing vocals
  • Martin Sunley – backing vocals
  • Tara Thomas – backing vocals
  • Clare Torry – backing vocals


  • Steve Levine – producer, digital mixing
  • Gordon Milne – engineer
  • Peter Lees – assistant engineer
  • Jon Moss – digital mixing
  • Ray Allington – hair stylist
  • Kim Bowen – stylist
  • Stevie Hughes – photography, makeup
  • Connie Jude – cover and rear sleeve illustration



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[25] 2× Platinum 200,000^
France (SNEP)[26] Gold 209,000[27]
Japan (Oricon Charts) 229,770[12]
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[29] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release details[edit]

Country Date Label Format Catalog
1984 Virgin CD 91392
LP 39881
1996 CD 86181
2003 CD 92406


  1. ^ https://www.discogs.com/Culture-Club-Waking-Up-With-The-House-On-Fire/release/4736167
  2. ^ Thrills, Adrian (13 October 1984). "Frankie Say: Beat It!". NME. London, England: IPC Media: 2. 
  3. ^ a b "Hibbert, Tom (8 November 1984). "Album Reviews (Culture Club - "Waking Up...")". Smash Hits. Vol. 6 no. 22. EMAP Metro. p. 23. 
  4. ^ a b Planer, Lindsay. Waking Up with the House on Fire [Bonus Tracks] – Culture Club at AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  5. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Reviews: Culture Club". The Village Voice. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Waking Up with the House on Fire". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 28 July 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0646119176. 
  8. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 5 March 2012
  9. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire". MegaCharts (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  10. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1984" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c d Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4871310779. 
  13. ^ "charts.org.nz Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  16. ^ "swedishcharts.com Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  17. ^ "Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Swiss Music Charts. Retrieved 4 March 2012. 
  18. ^ "Chart Stats – Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  19. ^ "allmusic ((( Waking Up with the House on Fire > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Album Search: Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  22. ^ "Les Albums (CD) de 1984 par InfoDisc" (in French). infodisc.fr. Archived from the original (PHP) on 27 October 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  23. ^ "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1985". RPM. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire". Music Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  26. ^ "French album certifications – Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select CULTURE CLUB and click OK
  27. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr (in French). SNEP. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  28. ^ "British album certifications – Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 3 March 2012.  Enter Waking Up with the House on Fire in the search field and then press Enter.
  29. ^ "American album certifications – Culture Club – Waking Up with the House on Fire". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 3 March 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH