on September 22, 2003
Following the dissolution of Wham!, there was no doubt that its lead singer, George Michael was going to be a solo star, what with "A Different Corner". Sure enough, six singles from this album hit the Top Five, with four #1s, garnering him a Best Album Grammy. It also showed a maturation point for Michael, where adult contemporary radio could play his songs instead of teeny-bopper fare from Wham!
"Faith" became George Michael's first #1 hit, and after its inauspicious church organ beginning to add to the theme title, jumps into a racing skiffle rhythm. Deon Estus, Wham!'s bassist, lends strong support here and other songs. I heard Limp Bucket's rendition and rolled my eyes; they ruined a great song.
"Father Figure" is an effective R&B ballad with gospel-tinged chorus sung by George Michael and Shirley Lewis. Another #1 hit for him.
"I Want Your Sex" got involved into quite a bit of controversy due to the title and the supposedly obscene lyrics. Originally on the Beverly Hills Cop 2 soundtrack, many radio stations here would NOT play this song, yet it peaked at #2 on the Hot Singles Chart. It's another case of "People, read the lyrics. Duh!" On one hand, yes, it's a case of the man begging for it, but another part dwells on the arguments he makes: "It's natural, it's chemical, it's logical, habitual" And a message here is aimed at PMRC types as well as the girl: "What's your definition of dirty, baby? What do you call pornography?" Part I of this song was the single with the thumping funky beat, while Part II-Brass In Love adds layers of piano and brass while maintaining the same melody.
"One More Time" is one of two great ballads. With keyboards giving an eerie atmosphere, say a more poppy "Whiter Shade Of Pale" but without the Bachian motif of the original. Michael really puts the most of his emotional self into this song than any here.
Two non-single songs here show Michael tackling social ills. "Hand To Mouth" soberly tells two stories of lives denied the American dream, someone who finally blows hit top and shoots out at people, the other a woman who has no one to turn to and becomes a prostitute. The criticism of Reaganite America is strong here: "I believe in the arms of America/I believe in the land of the free/But no one told me/that the gods believe in nothing/so with empty hands I pray."
The other, "Look At Your Hands", is on one hand a vengeful slap at a lost lover, but has fallen into an abusive marriage, domestic violence being a theme here.
By the time the anti-drug song "Monkey" came out, Faith had been on the charts for a full year, and the single went to #1. It has a pop-funk beat like "I Want Your Sex" and it's okay but I got the impression that Sony was leaning on Michael as a name. "Hey, it's by him, it'll sell well. Who cares which song it is?"
Now the piano cafe-jazz ballad "Kissing A Fool" is a different story. This was the last single released from this album, and . The recent Michael Buble rendition pales in comparison due to the soaring richness of George Michael's voice. Get the original, people. The sage wisdom of human nature is shown here: "People, you can never change the way they feel/Better let them do what they will/For they will, if you let them."
Part 3 of "I Want Your Sex", titled A Last Request, takes on a more devious tone, as the man waits for "that gin and tonic to go to your head" because in the end, "There's only so much a gentlemen can stand."
A landmark 80's pop album and considering George Michael's later troubles overshadowed his talent, a vital second step for him.
on July 19, 2004
If I remember correctly, I believe this was the best selling album of 1987. Why, well six of these were big hits, and one quite controversial at the time. This album also is fairly diverse, having upbeat dance tracks, and smooth ballads as well, and all very good. The songs "Faith", "I Want Your Sex", and "Monkey" all got your feet moving, while others like "One More Try" and "Father Figure" were slow and sexy. "George Michael" has had good albums since this one, but there's no doubt this is possibly his best, and is one of the 80's best too.