Colour by Numbers

Colour by Numbers is the second album by the British new wave group 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 10 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.

Colour by Numbers
Studio album by
Released10 October 1983
StudioRed Bus Studios and CBS Studios, London[1]
57:51 (2003 remaster)
LabelVirgin (UK)
Epic (US)
ProducerSteve 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)
    22 October 1983 (US)
  2. "Karma Chameleon"
    Released: 6 September 1983 (UK), 3 December 1983 (US)
  3. "Victims"
    Released: November 1983 (UK)
  4. "Miss Me Blind"
    Released: 14 February 1984 (US)
  5. "It's a Miracle"
    Released: April 1984 (UK), 12 May 1984 (US)


Colour by Numbers has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide,[2] and like its predecessor, Kissing to Be Clever, contains several hit singles. In the United States, all the album tracks peaked at #3 on the US Dance Club Songs chart.[3] "Karma Chameleon" was the signature track from the album and when released as single reached number one in many countries. "Church of the Poison Mind" reached #2 in the UK, and went top 10 in the US, 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 the 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.[4] The album is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[5]

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
AllMusic     [6]
The Baltimore Sun     [7]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [8]
Rolling Stone     [9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]
Slant Magazine     [11]
Smash Hits10/10[12]
The Village VoiceB+[13]

Reviews for Colour by Numbers have been generally positive. It was ranked at number 7 among the "Albums of the Year" for 1983 by NME.[14] 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."[6] 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."[13]

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."[9] 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."[11]

Track listingEdit

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" (Suntori Hot Whiskey Song) – 3:33
  3. "Melting Pot" (live) – 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 musiciansEdit


Decade-end chartsEdit

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


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[39] Diamond 1,000,000^
France (SNEP)[41] Gold 336,300[40]
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[42] Platinum 20,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 481,790[22]
Netherlands (NVPI)[43] Platinum 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[44] Platinum 15,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[45] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] 3× Platinum 900,000^
United States (RIAA)[47] 4× Platinum 4,000,000^
Worldwide 10,000,000[2]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Release detailsEdit

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


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  2. ^ a b Rockman, Lisa (26 June 2017). "Boy George is bringing the original Culture Club line-up to Newcastle". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Dance Club Songs – January 14, 1984". Billboard. 7 January 1984. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  4. ^ The Editors (16 November 1989). "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980's". Rolling Stone. No. 565.
  5. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  6. ^ a b Promis, Jose F. "Colour by Numbers – Culture Club". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  7. ^ Considine, J. D. (23 October 1983). "Two soulful voices prove fickleness of British trends". The Baltimore Sun.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  9. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (27 October 1983). "Culture Club: this Boy's the real thing". Rolling Stone (407): 77–79. Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  10. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Culture Club". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 204–05. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  11. ^ a b Shetler, Scott (3 April 2005). "Culture Club: Colour by Numbers". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  12. ^ Martin, Peter (13 October 1983). "Culture Club: Colour By Numbers (Virgin)". Smash Hits. 5 (21): 44.
  13. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (27 December 1983). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
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  16. ^ a b c d Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  18. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 39, No. 21". RPM. 28 January 1984. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
  19. ^ " Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Archived from the original (ASP) on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  20. ^ 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.
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  22. ^ a b Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
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  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
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  39. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". Music Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  40. ^ "Les Albums Or". (in French). SNEP. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  41. ^ "French album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (in French). InfoDisc. Select CULTURE CLUB and click OK. 
  42. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1990". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
  43. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 12 February 2020. Enter Colour by Numbers in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  44. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Culture Club – Colour by Numbers". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  45. ^ "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1979–1990". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano.
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External linksEdit