Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 Essential Albums by LGBTQ Artists, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Considering that the qualifier “LGBTQ” can often be open to various interpretations, for the purposes of this particular list, we have defined an artist as LGBTQ if he, she or they have ever publicly identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. Moreover, albums by groups have been included in the list if any of their members fit the aforementioned criteria, even if some members do not.
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CULTURE CLUB | Kissing To Be Clever
Selected by Justin Chadwick
I was five years old when the UK upstarts Culture Club formally arrived in the US by way of their debut album Kissing To Be Clever in December 1982. But even at such a young age, with my fledgling musical tastes just beginning to take shape, I found it strange that so much attention was disproportionately devoted—by the media and music fans alike—to the discussion of their frontman’s appearance and persona, as opposed to what truly mattered most: the strength of their music. There’s no denying that Boy George represented a different form of pop star, but why should those differences have mattered so much when he and his bandmates (Michael Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss) crafted such dynamic songs?
Indeed, this dynamism is immediately evident across Kissing To Be Clever’s nine original tracks, collectively an amalgamation of various styles spanning dance, pop, new wave, soul, world music and beyond. Preceded by a pair of singles (“White Boy” and “I’m Afraid of Me”) that failed to take commercial flight, Kissing To Be Clever—and by extension the group’s career trajectory—really took off with the unveiling of its ubiquitous, third-times-the-charm single “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me.”
A steady string of chart triumphs ensued, with the evocative pop perfection of “Time (Clock of the Heart)”—not included on the original UK version of the album, but added to the subsequent US version—remaining the supreme standout here, auguring the massive success that would be granted to the band by way of their smash second album, 1983’s Colour By Numbers.