Faith [reissue] - Epic/Legacy
FILTER Grade: 85%
By Tamara Vallejos on March 7, 2011
Combine George Michael’s many public scandals with the lingering memory of his time with cheesy British duo Wham! and it becomes difficult to recall anything all that positive about the guy. In fact, this reissue of his 1987 solo debut was delayed because of a drug-related jail sentence. But now that it’s finally out—remastered and, in this edition, packaged with a bonus CD and DVD—it serves as a reminder of Michael’s relevance in the pop landscape.
Faith, of course, includes the controversial ode to lust “I Want Your Sex,” and the album’s recognizable title track has its own reference to bodies touching. But also present is a political commentary on Reagan-era America, lyrics on domestic violence and a series of heartfelt ballads, all showing off respectable songwriting depth. The album earned Michael six hit singles, plus a Grammy, and to the modern cynic living amongst the Disneyfication of pop music, all this could seem like the clever work of major label brains. But this edition’s DVD helps give context, thanks to the inclusion of a 38-minute interview from 1987 (also included are music videos and Michael’s original video press kit). It’s here that we’re reminded he was only 17 when he wrote the Wham! hit “Careless Whisper” and just 23 when Faith was released. Still, he displays incredible poise, even when asked blunt question about sex, censorship, fame and money. This, along with his legitimate involvement in his own music, is a revelation in light of today’s dwindling standard for pop stars.
The bonus CD does less to impress, with instrumentals, B-sides and remixes in which only diehards will find much value. But even so, this release is worth an earnest exploration. While the synthesized sheen of ’80s pop hasn’t held up for everyone, even casual listeners will discover a new appreciation for the artist underneath superficiality and infamy.