George Michael – Faith (1987)

Label – Columbia
Producer – George Michael

No-one could have ever predicted the success of George Michael’s debut solo LP except possibly Michael himself. His first solo single, the luxurious ballad “Careless Whispers” was not a lucky break, more an open invitation to wind down his activities with Teen Pop duet Wham and plunge his gathering songwriting and vocal confidence into the adult oriented Pop arena. The break up of Wham came in 1985 and for a large part of the following year Michael was writing, playing and producing what would become “Faith”. His decision to play the majority of the instruments and self produce was either recklessly brave or wholly egotistical. Probably the latter as in interview he confessed “This business is built on ego, vanity, self satisfaction, and it’s total crap to pretend that it’s not”. Whatever the reason, there’s little doubt that the decision to mainly work alone was vital, as it gave the singer complete control over the creative process and as a result, a large majority of “Faith” is superbly crafted mainstream Pop. The album would sell well over 10 million copies and uniquely reach the top of both mainstream and R&B American charts, supported by four number one hit singles.

Michael’s wilful intention to throw off his teen Pop past is highlighted in the first few bars of the title track as a mournful pipe organ plays a funeralesque version of “Freedom” from his Wham days. This immediately launches into the simple but truly indispensable “Faith”; a Rockabilly sing a long bubblegum anthem that may not be inventive but is nevertheless rollicking good fun. The outstanding song from the album follows in the striking and soulful “Father Figure”. Sparsely backed Michael delivers a superlative vocal performance about the complexity of love and the roles that exist within a relationship (at this time he was still considered heterosexual). The controversial “I Want Your Sex” proved that the artist could still put out a cool cut of Disco Funk and if there is a criticism it’s that the song trundles on for over nine minutes and in hindsight the album mix should have been consigned to a 12” single only. Other highlights include the cocktail Jazz “Kissing A Fool” and the definitive 80’s Dance Pop sound of “Monkey”. In the space of 50 odd minutes George Michael had created a brand new Pop identity and the true genius of this recording was that he managed to maintain his original Wham fans, and yet introduce a wide and varied audience of twenty somethings, galvanized by his great voice, some strong songs and an enigmatic presence that would continue throughout his career.

The teen Pop idol grew up and now had songs to match his genuine vocal talents. He made a difficult transition look completely effortless, and for that reason alone “Faith” is an astonishing achievement.

8/10

A1 Faith 3:15


A2 Father Figure 5:36

A3 I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 & 2) 9:13
A4 One More Try 5:50

B1 Hard Day 4:47
B2 Hand to Mouth 4:35
B3 Look at Your Hands 4:35
B4 Monkey 5:04
B5 Kissing a Fool 4:34

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