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‘Waking Up With The House On Fire’: Culture Club Set The Charts Ablaze

Culture Club’s commercial heyday may have been drawing to a close, but ‘Waking Up With The House On Fire’ still became their third US platinum album in less than two years.

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Waking Up With The House On Fire Culture Club

The chart phenomenon of Culture Club, which began to break around the world in 1982, was still going strong two years later, with Boy George and co’s third album, Waking Up With The House On Fire.

The hysteria of the “Karma Chameleon” period and the Colour By Numbers album, which sold 16 million worldwide, had cooled a little by late 1984. Nevertheless, the new release, again produced by regular collaborator Steve Levine, was introduced by the UK No.2 single “The War Song,” which also went Top 20 in America. On November 3, 1984, the new album debuted at No.2 on the British charts, second only to Paul McCartney’s film soundtrack Give My Regards To Broad Street. Big Country’s Steeltown fell from top spot to No.5.

Culture Club were already touring in America by the time the album came out, with UK dates to follow in the December. In the summer they had toured in another of their international strongholds, Japan, greeted by the sort of mania that Smash Hits magazine described in their location report that summer as “Japandemonium.”

The title for the new album was inspired by a line that Boy George spotted in an old Doris Day film. Jon Moss, for his part, made light of the writing sessions for the record, telling Smash Hits: “We booked two or three weeks to do the songwriting and didn’t use one day of it. We had an argument and we left. We tried again three days later and had another argument. We rowed and rowed and George smashed his tape recorder and I threw a chair at him. Then we wrote the album in four days.”

After Japan, the band toured Australia and then went on their individual holidays, George travelling to India, before they returned home to finish recording and mixing House On Fire. Culture Club’s commercial heyday may have been drawing to a close, but it was still their third platinum album in America in less than two years.

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