Single review: Turn 2 Dust – Boy George
(Decode) On release
Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams
The revolving opening rhythms that draw one into the ‘original mix’ of the highly atmospheric Turn 2 Dust suggest a police helicopter hovering above city streets; the sound of spinning rotor blades overhead make one wary on even the most familiar streets, bring an edginess to the happiest evening out, as all too often one can only hear the sound, and see neither the helicopter, nor what it can see, perhaps just around the next corner.
Emotionally and politically charged, Turn 2 Dust, which has now been released in a nine track remix package (including mixes by David Jones, Bootik, and a great ‘lovebox’ mix by Kris de Angelis and Sam H), is the second single from Ordinary Alien – The Kinky Roland Files, Boy George’s first artist album in nine years, on which it is the opening and particularly stand out track. Beginning with the homophobic pejorative, “Chi Chi man everywhere you turn”, the song is an exhortation to remain strong and proud in the face of growing intolerance and hate crimes directed not only towards gay men and women, but towards anyone who is different, or stands out from the crowd.
Within weeks of Turn 2 Dust’s first appearance, with the release of Ordinary Alien in March, the song’s message was brought even closer to home for Boy George, after one of his oldest friends, Philip Sallon, the always flamboyantly dressed, 59 year old, gay socialite and club host, who founded the Mud Club in the 1980s, was left unconscious, with a fractured skull, and many broken bones, after being attacked in London’s Soho; streets with which he is very familiar and on which he has been a familiar figure for over 40 years. Speaking after the attack, for which no one has yet been arrested, Boy George said, “It’s hard to say and you don’t want to jump to conclusions, but it must have been something to do with the way he looked.”
Listening to Turn 2 Dust on the back of August’s riots in London and other English cities, watching footage, much shot from helicopters overhead, of violence and flames, familiar streets made unfamiliar in an instant, brings another layer to the song.
Portentous and powerful, lyrically and musically Turn 2 Dust is an highly evocative collage of urban life: edgy dance beats give way to the sweet release of floating melodies, one both relaxes into the moment and stays watchful, not knowing what might be around the next corner, pleasure and pain are co-existent on these city streets. Turn 2 Dust is a great return for Boy George, that both channels resonances of all that has gone before, whist also resolutely setting off in a fascinating new direction.
We would all be the poorer if everyone was the same. Long may he continue to celebrate difference.