January 10, 2009

Learning Moment: Jesus Loves You

January is such a dry month for music, so there's time to go back. If you don't know the work of Boy George as Jesus Loves You, it is time to get with the program. This was a "collective" George launched in 1990 for his new label and the music remains, in my opinion, his most sophisticated work. At heart, it was a sort of "world dance" project, made in a good period for George, as he'd discovered Hare Krishna and seemed calm, though it was also the high point of ecstasy so who knows? Watch this interview:

Given George's recent problems, this video is poignant. He is about 30 in this clip and looking as classically male - or British schoolboy!- as he ever looked. Listen to the message behind what he's saying about the music industry. He is RIGHT ON. This could have been filmed last week, the ideas are still so relevant. He reminds me of someone in this clip that I cannot put my finger on - his facial mannerisms as he speaks, especially his mouth. Can you figure it out?

After The Love
(below) was the first single. I remember reading a review in something like Melody Maker that said this song was so lush, that when you played it, rain would pour from your ceiling. I loved that.

Jesus Loves You After The Love:

That label was called More Protein and I don't need to tell you how it got its name. Let's just say George has a salty sense of humor. The next single, Generations Of Love (video), was a political statement, smooth and bass heavy, with a warm, sweet accordion ribboned through it. An album, credited to Boy George, was called Martyr Mantras. It also featured what would become a true house classic, I Specialize In Loneliness (hear it) and a Krishna-loving folk tune, Bow Down Mister, that morphed into an Indian dancepop classic. I love it.

Boy George Bow Down Mister:

Fast forward to 2002 and George's musical Taboo. Few know this tune, Out Of Fashion. I have a longer (and better) acoustic version from U Can Never B 2 Straight, but below is a full studio arrangement. The lyrics are prescient.

Boy George Out Of Fashion:

You're out of fashion
Your moment's over
And yes, I loved you
But you wore me out

You're out of fashion
So just forget it now
A living tragedy
Fits you like a glove.

Finally, Phil reports that you really should check on BG's youtube channel


xolondon said...

The sad thing about BG is that he was already on the road back. His current court case is, I think, the delayed results of behavior he has curbed. So those lyrics are not really meant to put him down, but they are... what they are!

John said...

I know that I'll get some nasty looks, but I even liked some of the work he did with Teddy Riley on "High Hat". "Don't Take My Mind On A Trip" is a new-jack classic in my mind.

countpopula said...

I was shocked when I came across someone's sold collection in a used record store and bought the lot--I didn't even know that High Hat was a compilation released in the US of two UK albums--Tense Nervous Headache and Boyfriend, and there were some good songs from both that had not been issued here. There were also original 12 inch singles of One on One, Bow Down Mister, Sweet Toxic Love, and the ORIGINAL No Clause 28. One of my favorite trips to a record store.

Matt said...

The Martyr Mantras is the best solo thing George ever did and probably will ever do. I LOVE this period of Boy George. Really hit the acid house zeitgeist of the time, he looked amazing (I like my Boy a little skinnier and "Boy"-ish), his fashion was great, he seemed almost ahead of the curve with his sound, look. All the singles from "Martyr" are great. Of course at that point he couldnt sell a record (and still cant) in the U.S. to save his life.

hatzij said...

Agree with everyone's comments, this is far and away the best solo project George ever did and the music still holds up today. Generations Of Love is a classic.

I am also a huge fan of the High Hat/Tense Nervous Headache records which in my opinion are two of the most underrated albums of the 80's.

It's quite sad to watch this interview and think about the wasted opportunities that followed. Why he never became a songwriter for hire/producer for other people's records is a mystery.

KulPop said...

Where you thinking he looks a bit like Patrick Wolf it that clip?


Phil said...

I'm not worried about the Boy at all. The court case and upcoming prison sentence are just another throwback to his coke years and are part of a cringe hangover which neatly leapfrogs all the good stuff going on his life at the moment. He's fucking hard as nails and will get through it, head held high.

The documentary on Living in September showed him to be lucid, eloquent, regretful but still as sharp as a box of tacks and funny as ever.

I loved his solo stuff like Il Adore, Out of Fashion, Mr Strange et al, but he never seemed to want to revisit it when I saw him live a few times... But it'll come. No need to fret.

Phil said...

Oh, and were you thinking of Jack Davenport - Miles in This Life and Pirates films - seeing Boy in the interview?

xolondon said...

I am not sure who I was thinking of, but Davenport is close. It's something about the way he does not move his upper lip.

Anyway, Phil loves everyone! Mutya. Boy! And they love him.

Was Don't Cry from one of those new jack records? I love that song, where he singa lika man.

17days said...

wow. thank you SO much for this post. i'm listening to HIGH HAT as i get ready to go out tonight... what a TRULE under rated artist.


Matt said...

yeah xo, Dont Cry is his fake Roy Orbison song. really good. Whisper, You Are My Heroin, Girl with Combination Skin, something Starnge Called Love, were all good songs that werent as dated as the New Jack Swing stuff. someone needs to release a REALLY good solo compilation double disc with all the best of the last 20+ years of his work.

DanProject76 said...

It's odd that the Jesus Loves You album was released as Boy Greorge in America but I guess it was an attempt to make it more noticeable. I had most of the 12" singles from it at the time but only actually bought the CD album a few months ago , an it was the US import.

Other great reommendations:
U Can Never B 2 Straight (which you mentioned) , The Unrecoupable One Man Bandit, Cheapness and Beauty... plus that massive Culture Club boxset that I did not buy (naughty) which has loads of solo stufdf and demos on it.

xolondon said...

Unrecoupable and Cheapness should be owned. I think U Can Never Be is an acquired taste! The Culture Club boxset disappointed me since I had the best stuff from it already, like the brilliant song Colour By Numbers, which I had as a bside and loved. Remember when one listened to everything one had (carefully) because you could not download new music everyday?

DanProject76 said...

Oh yeah, I remember the days when I knew where I had bought all my records and knew all the words.

countpopula said...

Agreed with the High Hat comments--it is SO underrated. All the aforementioned songs are great.

Just listening to Martyr Mantras again--does anybody else love Love's Gonna Let You Down as much as I do? What a great song that doesn't seem to get much mention--I love the raspy falsetto he uses there. I Specialize in Loneliness is also a quintessential winner.

zen~ said...

JLY is definitely a highlight of George's musical output (even better than, say, 70% of Culture Club's output). 'I Specialize in Loneliness' was also covered by Ultra Nate back in the 90s, and her version highlights what a great songwriter George is (especially if a woman covers his song/s). I still have all the JLY cd maxis of the time (great use of a Pierre et Gilles portrait) and often revisit the remixes and the '...Mantras' album.

I have the cd single somewhere, but the title escapes me -- George wrote an excellent song for ex-Soul II Soul singer Caron Wheeler, and you can clearly hear his voice in the background vox. Does anybody else remember it? Also, whatsername on More Protein, Eve Gallagher, had some excellent songs co-written by George too. Oh, they were the days....

El MarvelOso said...

This was definitely his best solo offering. I even liked what he did for Eve Gallagher around this time.