On this day in music history: October 25, 1984 – “Waking Up With…

On this day in music history: October 25, 1984 – “Waking Up With The House On Fire”, the third album by Culture Club is released. Produced by Steve Levine, it is recorded at Red Bus Studios in London from June – September 1984. After the huge critical and commercial success of their sophomore release “Colour By Numbers”, and winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1984, Culture Club’s UK and US record labels (Virgin and CBS/Epic Records respectively), put palpable pressure on the band to quickly follow it up with another album. With the relationship between lead singer Boy George and drummer Jon Moss beginning to unravel and with the band weary from touring the world, writing and recording is difficult. The sessions are rushed, with the band finishing the album in less than three months for its Fall 1984 release. In spite of a significant promotional push aided by the elaborately produced video for the first single “The War Song” (#2 UK, #17 US Pop) (directed by Russell Mulcahy at a cost of nearly $200,000), reaction to the new album is largely mixed. This is especially noticeable in the US where Boy George, having become a major celebrity during the past year and a half, has reached the point of overexposure in the media. As a result, “Waking Up” falls far short of the previous albums’ multi-million sales. It spins off two additional singles including “Mistake No. 3” (#33 US Pop) and “The Medal Song” (#32 UK). The albums’ cover (designed by artist Connie Jude at Assorted Images) stirs up a minor controversy when Jewish groups in the US complain about the artwork. It features illustrations of flaming nude female caricatures brandishing dollar signs and Hebrew stars of David (surrounding the band on the front cover) which is seen by some as being “anti-semetic”, though is meant to be tongue in cheek, as drummer Jon Moss is Jewish. CBS Records quickly prepares an alternate cover with the “offending” images being airbrushed out, though does not actually go into production when media attention quickly fades along with the albums’ sales. Original UK (and other foreign territories) copies of LP comes packaged with a three panel lyric booklet with photos of the other three band members, and custom label art on the vinyl. The US release features a scaled down version of the same art work printed on the inner sleeve. In 2003, it is reissued as a remastered CD featuring four bonus tracks. “Waking Up With The House On Fire” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number twenty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.