Saturday, August 04, 2007

Number 581 - Wham

Number 581


"Club Tropicana"


The song before this (No 580) & even the one after, (No 582) seem to have a common similar theme, hmmmm.
Now how does one describe Wham? Even the phenomenon that was "Wham"?
Well, as i tell my sprogs, we had many groups that were, er, different in the early 80's. Take, Frankie Goes To Hollywood or Dead or Alive, Culture Club, Bronski Beat and even Human League. Now i say to anyone who ask about these groups and i just give the straight (excuse the pun) plausible answer.... the music was really cool then, & all walks of life back then loved dancing to the sound, we didn't give a brass monkey's who sang it, as long as it sounded good. And in most cases it still does. Also i refuse to apologise for something that your parents bought!

Fantastic is the misguided 1983 debut release from the U.K. duo Wham. With Fantastic, George Michael and partner Andrew Ridgeley introduced themselves as leather jacket-clad, street-smart "rebels." This approach proved wildly popular in the U.K., where Fantastic was a Top Ten hit, but the album went largely unnoticed in the States. Fantastic is now notable only for its early appearance of Michael, who would become an international superstar by the mid-'80s. While Fantastic showcases the young (20 at the time of the album's release) George Michael's ability to craft engaging, hook-filled melodies, much of the material on Fantastic suffers from the duo's pretentious, tough-guy posturing. The empty funk of the U.K. hits "Bad Boys," "Young Guns (Go For It)," and the embarrassing "Wham Rap" barely registers, and Michael's smart-alecky, self-conscious lyrics are often unintentionally hilarious. Parakai

Although Michael eventually became well known as a reasonably successful emulator of R&B trends, neither these tunes nor Fantastic's stupefying remake of the Miracles' "Love Machine" give any indication of his abilities. At best, Fantastic can be viewed as a testament to George Michael's maturity. "Nothing Looks the Same in the Light" and "Club Tropicana," two of Fantastic's best tunes, lean toward the lush, adult pop of Michael's later solo work. These songs are ultimately more successful than the juvenile meanderings of "Bad Boys" and "Wham Rap." Fortunately, Michael and Ridgeley would later ditch the superficial, leather-jacketed approach for the more sophisticated pop of later Wham releases like "Everything She Wants" and "Freedom" (both from 1984's Make It Big) and "The Edge of Heaven" (from 1986's Music From the Edge of Heaven), finding major U.S. success in the process. Fantastic isn't a good album, but it's oddly entertaining. It's certainly interesting hearing the difference between the frothy Fantastic and Michael's later, "serious" solo work like Listen Without Prejudice and Older. And Fantastic is also good for a few chuckles. Unfortunately, that probably wasn't George Michael's intention. But even he might get a good laugh out of it. ~ [William Cooper, All Music Guide]

For Dead or Alive see Number 762
For Human League see Number 603 & Number 582
For George Michael see Number 821

So why did Wham break up, huh?
Michael desired to create music targeted to a more sophisticated audience than the duo's primarily teenage fanbase. Therefore, Michael and Ridgeley announced the breakup of Wham! in the spring of 1986, destined to take place after a farewell single and album, along with a historic grand finale concert at Wembley Stadium on June 28, 1986, called The Final. British pop group Five Star declined George's invitation to be the supporting act, saying they needed to concentrate on their own career at the time.
The farewell single was "The Edge of Heaven" (which had on its flip-side "Where Did Your Heart Go?") which reached #1 in June 1986. "Where Did Your Heart Go?" was the group's final single in the United States. The song, originally recorded by art-rock ensemble Was (Not Was), was a downbeat and somber affair that telegraphed the intentions of George Michael for the next decade's work and would fit musically on any of his solo albums. The duo's last album was a double-LP collection of all the singles to date, mostly the extended versions, and was also called The Final (released in North America as the severely pared-down Music from the Edge of Heaven with alternate tracks). Wham! then said goodbye to their audience (73,000 of whom attended the eight-hour event) and each other with an emotional embrace at the end of the show. The band had been together five years, selling close to 20 million albums and 10 to 15 million singles. Foreign Skies, the film of their tour of China, received its world premiere as part of the festivities, making it the most highly-attended film premiere in history. ~ [source:wikipedia] (By the way george has his hand on his own knee)
What does Rolling Stone think about Wham?
I first heard Wham! U.K. while I was driving around Los Angeles listening to KROQ. The song "Young Guns" seemed exciting and sophisticated, especially when the singers cross-chanted "Get back! Hands off! Go for it!" It sounded like someone reading vanity license plates to a beat–maybe that's why it sounded so good in the car. At home, on the stereo or the Walkman, Fantastic, the British duo's first album, just sounded like brittle, tinny sub-Human League British technopop. For music that aspires to danceability, the album is surprisingly light-weight; it's bottomless funk, which seems odd for a record that devotes a whole song to the joys of a bass line ("A Ray of Sunshine"). Probably the biggest problem with Wham! is that the group lacks a really distinctive vocalist. George Michael's earnest whine is as synthetic and overly familiar as the cheap keyboards so prevalent nowadays. The only cut that really stands up is "Nothing Looks the Same in the Light," a lush, melodious, almost Bee Gees like number, on which Michael (who writes most of the group's material with Andy Ridgely) plays all the instruments. Turn up Wham! when they come on the car radio, but remember: they won't sound the same anywhere else. (RS 404)
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Wham?) and the Album ranked at Number (God save us)
This song has a crowbarred rating of 72.6 out of 108 pts
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