Revisiting George Michael’s 1987 masterpiece “Faith”

A look back at the former Wham! flawless debut album

Revisiting George Michael’s 1987 masterpiece “Faith”

George Michael’s “Faith” it’s the former Wham! solo debut, released on October 30th, 1987, and as of October 2017, it sits at over 20 million units sold worldwide. Seven singles were lifted from Faith from June 1987 to November 1988 “I Want Your Sex,” “Faith,” “Hard Day,” “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Monkey,” and “Kissing a Fool.” All of them dominated globally and can still be heard playing somewhere in the world today. Nominations and wins for Grammys, American Music Awards, and BRIT’s were abundant in the late 1980’s. Excusing “Look at Your Hands,” co-scripted with David Austin, Michael entered the exclusive club of “written, arranged, produced and composed by” on his debut effort.  The album’s a drastic departure from Wham! 1980’s pop songs formula, that already had been composed by George Michael,  but it gave him a songwriting reputation that he couldn’t have achieved on Wham!,  “Faith” stitches gospel, blues, and rock together with an irrepressible hook and guitar lick so effervescent, it seems as if 30 years has barely lapsed since it jumped onto the airwaves back in 1987. “Faith” showcases the vocals of Michael in a new style mode. Its songs are littered with introspective lyrics, which generated controversies about Michael’s personal relationships at that time. Most of the material was recorded at Puk Recording Studios in Denmark and Sarm West Studios in London. Some of the material was more graphic than Michael’s previous efforts with Wham! “I Want Your Sex”, which had three parts: the first part was titled “Rhythm 1: Lust”, which was the version that would eventually be released as a single and featured electro funk influences; the second part was titled “Rhythm 2: Brass in Love”, which mixed a more instrumentally-based funk live instrumentation with a smoother R&B arrangement during the verses; the third part, which was edited to be the final song on the album, was titled “Rhythm 3: A Last Request”, featuring a jazz-influenced quiet storm and R&B sound combined with lyrics telling of Michael drunkenly trying to bring his lover to his bed. The title track “Faith” began with an organ fanfare that was actually the music to Wham!’s “Freedom” played as if in a cathedral. After this, the song featured a rockabilly sound similar to Bo Diddley while Michael added his own style with his vocals. “Father Figure” originally was a dance-styled production until Michael removed the snare drums from it and kept it that way because he loved what he heard, making the song a mid-tempo R&B ballad. “One More Try” was a soul song in the tradition of songs by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder; its lyrics tell of a man who pushes his lover away out of fear of repeating past relationships, only to accept the invitation in the end. “Hard Day”, much like the first two parts of “I Want Your Sex”, was inspired by funk, mainly from Prince. The social commentary song “Hand to Mouth” had a slight pop and folk approach while a similar social commentary song, “Look at Your Hands”, co-written by Michael and David Austin, produced a pop song with rock elements featuring a piano and saxophone. “Monkey” returns to the funk influences of some of the other songs. A remix of the song by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis brings a new jack swing approach to the original. “Kissing a Fool” is a jazz-influenced ballad with lyrics solemnly describing a breakup. Additionally, Faith made Michael the first Caucasian to top the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. There is a very human story about George Michael’s own journey toward his eventual self-acceptance that lies at the heart of the legend of “Faith!. Those steps in his journey were assisted by his love of both pop and R&B music as an outlet for him. By striking an authentic balance between the two genres, he eschewed the vanity of affectation and was driven by humble admiration instead. This ensured the record’s appeal to two audiences without forsaking one (white) or patronizing another (black), and that’s a legacy worth leaving behind. This was George Michael’s masterpiece, and although he tried to do one more with “Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1” in which the songwriting craft, musical artistry, and maturity it’s superior, “Faith” it’s the album that established George Michael as an acclaimed solo entity and separated him drastically from the Wham! bubblegum 80’s pop.



Side 1
1 “Faith”
2 “Father Figure”
3 “I Want Your Sex” (Parts 1 & 2)
4 “One More Try”

Side 2
5 “Hard Day”
6 “Hand to Mouth”
7 “Look at Your Hands” (Michael, David Austin)
8 “Monkey”
9 “Kissing a Fool”

Personnel:
George Michael: vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, all instruments on “I Want Your Sex Pt 1” and “Hard Day”, most instruments on “Monkey”, arranger, producer

Additional Personnel (partial):
J.J. Belle: guitars
Chris Cameron: piano, cathedral organ, keyboards, backing vocals
Betsy Cook: keyboards
Deon Estus: bass
Steve Sidwell: horns
Jamie Talbot: horns
Shep Pettibone: remix, additional production

Produced by: George Michael
Recorded during: 1986–87 at Puk Recording Studios in Denmark and Sarm West Studios in London
Released: October 30th, 1987
Label: Columbia / Epic

Singles:
“I Want Your Sex” Released: 1 June 1987
“Faith” Released: 12 October 1987
“Hard Day” Released: 30 October 1987
“Father Figure” Released: 2 January 1988
“One More Try” Released: 11 April 1988
“Monkey” Released: 3 July 1988
“Kissing a Fool” Released: 21 November 1988

Strongest Tracks:
“I Want Your Sex”, “Faith”, “Father Figure”, “One More Try”, “Monkey”, “Kissing a Fool”



Look back at the iconic 1987 music video for “Faith” by George Michael



Listen to “Faith” on Spotify

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