586. ‘Everything I Own’, by Boy George

After the exploits and successes of George Michael; another famous, lead-singing George goes solo…

Everything I Own, by Boy George (his 1st and only solo #1)

2 weeks, from 8th – 22nd March 1987

For someone as provocative and outspoken as Boy George, he didn’t half play it safe when it came to the actual music. I commented as much when Culture Club’s two chart-toppers came along: ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ left me a little cold, and while ‘Karma Chameleon’ is a brilliant pop song, it’s more likely to have granny dancing along than reaching for the smelling salts. At the time, I wondered if a double whammy of androgyny and provocative songs might have been too much. Maybe it was enough for Boy George just to be part of the mainstream…

But still, you might have expected him to launch his solo career with something a little more edgy than a cover of a Bread hit from a decade and a half before… ‘Everything I Own’ is a nice song. The original is nice, the Ken Boothe version (on which this take is heavily based) is nice… Did the world need another version? Probably not, but it doesn’t offend. The reggae beat is bright and breezy – a little perkier than in Boothe’s version, as if UB40 were George’s backing band.

The most interesting bit of the song is Boy George’s voice. It’s only three and a half years since he last topped the charts, but his voice sounds like it’s aged by a decade or two… I would make an irreverent joke about it, but the sad truth is that he was by this point a heroin addict, and had been arrested for possession just a few months before this record’s release. Perhaps the success of this song was as much a statement of support from his fans as it was about people genuinely liking the song (his follow-up singles’ lack of success perhaps backs this theory up…)

Culture Club had disbanded the year before, in the wake of diminishing chart returns and Boy George’s increasingly erratic behaviour. The start of their decline can be traced directly back to the astonishingly bad ‘The War Song’ in 1984, which I’d say caused more harm than the drugs ever did. In fact, when I start yearning for a bit more edge from Culture Club and Boy George, I should remember their big anti-war statement piece and be grateful that they largely stuck to soft reggae…

Speaking of soft reggae, I have a ‘soft’ spot for Culture Club’s 1998 comeback single ‘I Just Wanna Be Loved’, which came out when I was twelve. The band have reformed a couple of times now, while George maintains an on-again off-again solo career. He’s arguably been more infamous than famous in recent years thanks to various legal troubles, but he seems to have turned a corner now that he’s in his sixties (!) Whatever you think of him, he’s certainly an icon of the decade, and it’s apt that he managed a brief swansong on top of the charts…

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9 thoughts on “586. ‘Everything I Own’, by Boy George

  1. I heard that BJ was a “pretty face” just on the west-end scene, decided he needed to earn a living from it and got into singing just as a way of making money. So, not a singer, per se. Some of his music I found pleasant enough but I like reggae in any case. He sang White Reggae.

  2. Not bad for this song…but I would take the original….this is an interesting take but I grew up on the other one. Sometimes hearing a song that you grew up with is jarring when it’s rearranged.

  3. The fab Bread original was only a minor uk hit, and it took the equally fab Ken Boothe reggae hit to make it famous. I think sales were more down to people getting nostalgic for the original or it being new to those that didnt know the much better originals. Sold was a much better solo track and George has a host of great solo ballad flops like Il Adore, Pet Shop Boys produced cover of The Crying Game, or Indian meditation influenced goodies from Jesus Loves You aka Boy George, Generations Of Love and Bow Down Mister were actually fun. His voice these days is errr husky? But he still has the bravery to duet with icons like Gladys Knight and Kim Wilde recently….

  4. Pingback: 588. ‘Let It Be’, by Ferry Aid | The UK Number Ones Blog

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