Plans were underway for a new studio album, their first since 2008′s monumental Black Ice, and a ’40th Anniversary’ world tour, 40 huge shows across the globe. About 3 weeks ago, founding member, rhythm guitarist, co-producer and co-songwriter Malcolm Young had a stroke, which left a blood clot on his brain.
After an almost 20 year absence from recording original material, and a history of substance abuse played out in the public arena, you might think that This Is What I Do (Kobalt), gay singer/songwriter Boy George’s return to recorded music might sound like, say, Marianne Faithfull’s Broken English. But, you’d be wrong. Instead, Boy George’s voice, which isn’t as ravaged as Faithfull’s, but neither is it as unblemished as it used to be, is well-suited to the material. Beginning with opener “King of Everything,” co-written with former Culture Club band-mate Mikey Craig, George is diplomatic and graceful, particularly when he sings “What’s the word on the street/Have I lost my crown/Or will I be king again?” In ways that only he can, George tackles religion and faith (“My God”), heartbreak (“It’s Easy”), journeys (“Any Road”), new love (“Nice and Slow”) and even politics (“Feel The Vibration”). Yoko Ono gets special attention here, including a shout-out in “Bigger Than War,” as well as a respectful cover of her “Death of Samantha.” I spoke with Boy George about the new album in March 2014.