George Michael - Twenty Five
Is it really 25 years since those heady days of Wham! My earliest Wham! memory – seeing them perform Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go on defunct ITV kids pop show Razzamatazz, with a bevy of eighties beauties decked out in the “fashionable for about a fortnight” massive white T-shirt and slogan combo, dancing around a podium where George and Andrew strutted their sun-tanned stuff. It was all pretty harmless stuff really, and despite my ardent Duran-ie wife thinking at the time (and even now) that George Michael was the Devil Himself, you have to admit he has written some pretty catchy songs.
And here we are, with George Michael releasing a compilation album mixing together both his solo work and his time as one half of Wham!, a prospect that I am sure has got Andrew Ridgeley quite excited. I can see him now, flicking through next years travel brochures wondering where to have his posh holiday with the royalties. This release comes in two separate editions, a standard 2 disc set and one with a third disc entitled “for the loyal”, featuring covers, and exclusive tracks, something more for the fans than the casual listener.
The two discs can be clearly defined as Happy George, Sad George – the first CD features the up-tempo numbers including three Wham! Tracks (sadly no Wham Rap or Young Guns, for shame), and a variety of his more danceable solo songs. Faith is a delight, a slapping, hook-heavy song that really defined George as an artist in his own right, whereas songs such as Fastlove and Freedom ’90 are pretty good also. There are some clunkers, in particular Outside, a nasty, sleazy track, and also the glaring omission of I Want Your Sex, which should have been featured if just for the cultural nonsense that surrounded it at the time.
Second CD is full of downbeat ballads and more reflective numbers, and gets very bogged down in its own self-importance. Careless Whisper, the staple of the school disco erection section, could be preserved in a dictionary as an example of all that was wrong with certain types of 80’s music – the wailing saxophone, the unnecessary vocal warbling, and the nagging sense of excess in the production. Last Christmas is humorous enough, whilst tracks like A Different Corner and Jesus to a Child are such plodders that it is hard to maintain an interest in them.
This album accompanies a massive, sell out tour Michael is undertaking, reaching these shores in mid-November. All this interest proves I guess that there is life in the old Greek dog yet. Whilst being rather light on the Wham! Numbers, this is an interesting career retrospective that I am sure will be in many Christmas stockings this year.
At the time of writing CD-wow have the two disc edition for the low price of £6.99 - and you can save yourself a further 50p by using the link to the right.