At some point during 2016 – middle of the year rather than the December period - I quite randomly, look you see, fancied having a listen to Faith off of George Michael. As opposed to, say, the album off of The Cure of the same name.
My options for doing this were, as it happens, varied. I could have trawled through my boxes to find my copy of it on CD. This is something I didn’t do, but will get around to for reasons that I shall mention later, if I remember. Also not done was either buying a download or obtaining a less than record industry approved download. The latter would have been somewhat guilt free, since I already own it, but still – it’s nice to have a proper record in your hands.
So, I bought another copy, then. Cheap. Not ₤1 cheap from Pound Land, no – from what I remember I got it as part of a 2 for ₤1.50 deal off of Pound Land, so effectively, if admittedly conditionally, I paid 75p to give it another listen. Bargain, yes, for sure, to be sure, but it still irks me how we’ve all stood back and allowed music to be so devalued.
When did I become aware of the fact that I really rather liked George Michael? The latter days of Wham!, really. After being (as you’d expect a teenage boy, jealous of how teenage girls craved Andrew or George and not them) exceptionally dismissive of the more ultra-pop tunes that made them big, the last couple of singles off the band were ones that would lure any music lover. Or someone with a passion for top vibes. I’m Your Man and Edge Of Heaven were, are, by any standard, amazing. And so I followed to see what he would do next.
Yes, of course, silly, I Want Your Sex was also a very, very good way to lure in as many teenage boys as teenage girls. I recall buying the 7” of it for a dear friend, someone who was a big fan of George but was not allowed to get or buy the record directly. But, that’s not the story here.
I can recall my Mum giving me a funny look and asking if I was sure when I asked, in November 1987, if I could possibly have the George Michael Faith CD for Christmas. I said yes, and could I please have the “picture disc” version of it. If CD was new in 1987 then a picture CD was uber-new. There were, I think, four CDs released in late 1987 which featured the album cover artwork on the disc itself. One of them, I am sure, was Springsteen’s Tunnel Of Love, but all I remember is wanting, and getting that last Christmas my immediate family would all be together in England, the Faith one.
With the sad and, even by 2016 standards, overwhelmingly unexpected passing of George Michael a lot has been written and said of him, his music, his life and his “controversies”. I recall one broadcaster had someone on that they believed was an “expert” on music. This I take it to be as a result of him being stood in a room full of records, for he revealed himself to be a whole level of “expert” I’d not experienced before, as for some reason he declared Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 to be George’s debut solo record. He, then, is in for quite a treat when he discovers Faith, the record most commonly seen as George Michael’s debut solo album.
Let me see, what could I possibly add to all that’s been written and said of Faith and George Michael over close to 30 years and all the more recently?
There’s always been one thing about the Faith record which I find staggering. It’s perhaps all the more amazing with each passing year, the way the world of music has moved. Of the 9 tracks proper on the LP (the CD featured a bonus remix and a bit off of the 12” of I Want Your Sex), 7 were released as singles. All of them went top ten, I think, and from what I recall at least four topped the USA chart.
This was in a time when for a single to chart people had to go into a shop and buy a physical copy of the record. Allow that to sink in. If you take as fact that Faith was a massive selling album, people who owned the record still went off and bought some 78% of it again to have the singles from it. Did they buy for the b-side? No, from what I remember they were always just instrumentals of the a-side.
Faith is a record you put on and just enjoy from start to finish. Not a lot of records get made that way any more. Back when Faith came out, however, it was the intended – and often successful – aim to do this with every release a band or artist made. For Faith to stand out then, in a time of amazing music being made and released in significant volumes, is perhaps praise enough.
There will be, understandably, a period now where people “stream” the musical legacy of George Michael, or maybe pick up one of the perfectly competent “best of” sets out. I’d encourage those of a mind to do this to rather find a copy of the album Faith, with the CD being arguably the best way to hear it. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.
Be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!