Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Hard Day

Song: Hard Day
Artist: George Michael
Album: Faith (Remastered)

Back in 1987 I received George Michael's "Faith" on cassette under the Christmas tree, along with a SONY Walkman.  At that point the single "Faith" was still dominating the charts and Michael was just releasing third single "Father Figure."  I remember going out hunting with my father and his buddies only to have "Faith" blaring in my ears on repeat the entire time.  I'm certain that good old George never conceived his pop-funk & R&B odyssey ever being played while stalking deer in knee-deep snow... but that's my life.  I wore that "Faith" cassette out actually... and had to buy a second copy.  The only piece of music I've ever had to do so.

This year, twenty-four after its release, "Faith" is being remastered and re-released as a two-disc set with bonus material.  (There is also a version with a DVD, and a Limited Edition Box set that includes a Vinyl pressing of the album as well as hard cover book and other special extras that'll run ya almost $170.)  The second disc contains a couple b-sides, remixes, and instrumentals.

"Faith" was Michael's first solo album after five years in Wham.  It followed two successful singles that were released while Wham was still together but billed just to Michael.  "A Different Corner," and then the smash "Careless Whisper," which was billed as "Wham featuring George Michael" here in the states.

Upon reading about just how successful the album was I was pretty blown away.  Take a gander at this:

-"Faith" was 1988's top selling single, where "Careless Whisper" held the title for 1985
-George was the first British act to have two top selling singles in the US since the Beatles did it in 1968 with "Hey Jude," after 1964's "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
-It garnered six top-5 singles, five of which went to number 1
-He's the only British artist ever to have four number one singles in the top 100 at the same time
-The album had 51 consecutive weeks in the top 10 (!!!) including twelve weeks at number 1
-It was the first album by a white artist to go number 1 on the R&B charts
-It was the best selling album of 1988 in the US
-It's the 52nd best selling album in US chart history and has total sales of 25 million worldwide
-It won Album of the Year at the 31st Annual Grammy Awards

Crazy impressive.

Six of the nine tracks from the album were released as singles making it the pop-funk & R&B "Sgt. Pepper."  From the then controversial "I Want Your Sex," to the peppy "Faith" and funk of "Monkey" as well as killer ballads "One More Try" and "Kissing a Fool" not to mention the originally dance-oriented production "Father Figure," which Michael altered when he liked the sound of the track minus the snare drum.

One of my favorite tracks from the album, the Prince inspired "Hard Day" was only released as a promo single here in the States, but never officially, no video was ever made.  The song COULD have been another huge hit for the singer I feel, though probably album-fatigue prevented it from being released.  Too bad, as I feel it's one that fell through the cracks a bit.  Though given the albums selling power, you probably know it even if it never impacted the radio.  I love that Michael sped up his voice (a-la Prince) for the "female" parts of the song.  It gives it a strange sexy vibe to it.  Hot.

Re-listening to "Faith" is a reminder of just how amazing Michael was as an artist, which has possibly been a bit marred by his personal struggles.  And while it does sound a touch dated, I think it really holds up.  I'm not sure it will exactly find a new audience with this re-release but it's worth noting anyhow as an amazing pop achievement.


Hard Day (Live During Faith Tour)


Father Figure

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