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George Michael
Faith (reissue)
Epic REcords/Legacy Recordings
www.georgemichael.com


It's been 23 years since George Michael released his solo debut album, Faith. Forsaking the light and poppy feel of his musical duo Wham! for something a bit more edgy, Michael turned heads with the release in 1987. The newly remastered and reissued version of the album is available on a 2-CD edition and it sounds fantastic. The songs have extra punch and clarity that the original CDs were lacking, and the sound seems warmer, more like listening to a record album. The second CD is full of b-sides and alternate mixes and is a nice companion to this fine album.

"Faith" starts the record off in its no-nonsense way, complete with giant snare drums and punchy kicks that carry the acoustic guitar and biting vocals all the way through its 3 minute 13 second run. It is immediately recognizable why this album was such a hit when it was released… but the next track, "Father Figure", is just as beautifully produced, with its scores of background vocals pristine and dynamic, once more revealing the depth of the remastering on this CD. "I Want Your Sex( Parts 1 & 2)" sounds as good, if not better, than it ever has before. The remastering has once more punched out the rhythms and made everything more clear and dynamic. On this song, there are all kinds of small things that I had never noticed in the recording before. The single is grand enough, but when "Part 2" kicks in with its horns and funky guitars the song launches into outer space, although it seems that the song could have been cut quite a bit shorter than its over-9-minute running time. "One More Try" was the ballad single off the record and stands today as as fine a ballad from the late 1980s as one would hope for. It's a fantastic song and once again the remastering brings out subtle nuances that make the song spring to new life.

The B-side of the album is good, but not as spectacular as the first songs were. The obvious exception is the dance classic "Monkey". This song made a small splash in the clubs, and it sounds great remastered… ready for a new market with new clubgoing public. The second disc is certainly not essential listening, with such gimmicky things as an (slightly anemic) instrumental version of "Faith" and the A Capella rendering of "Monkey", but there are some great songs, too. The Shep Pettibone remix of "Hard Day" is edgy and tight and "Fantasy" has a groove that pre-dates the Madchester scene, but contains many of the elements that would play heavily in that scene.

This record, especially the A-side, doesn't sound nearly as dated as I would have imagined at first thought. The songs have a power and clarity that has lasted through the intervening decades, and easily makes this a classic album, ready for listening by an entirely new generation of music listeners… hopefully they can find it on a download store or wherever kids actually get music these days.

-Embo Blake

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