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5 décembre 2011 1 05 /12 /décembre /2011 16:33

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It’s been 25 years since George Michael and Andrew Ridgely left their Wham! career behind on a high. To celebrate (commiserate?) they released ‘The Final’, a compilation album that documented their short, but amazingly successful career in pop. Now, 25 years later, to celebrate the Anniversary, ‘The Final’ is being re-released to remind everyone exactly what Wham! brought to the music industry – and I don’t mean Andrew’s “air” guitar skills.

Anyone familiar with Wham! will know the track listing and lyrics like the back of their hand, and will need no introduction to the sound of the band. We’ve all danced to at least one Wham! song on a night out and this album brings the best of them together. Six No.1 singles, even including George Michael’s two solo singles that made appearances on Wham!’s albums.

The first track on ‘The Final’ is ‘Wham! Rap!’, first released in 1982, but not a hit until its re-release in January 1983. Not their best song, and I’m sure they’d agree themselves, but George Michael rapping? Who’d pass that up! Wham!’s first hit, ‘Young Guns (Go For It!) is next, and reached No. 3 in the charts in late 1982. ‘Bad Boys’, a song George Michael went on record to say he “hated” was Wham!’s biggest hit from their debut album, and reached No. 2 in May 1983. The fourth and final single from the debut was ‘Club Tropicana’ which reached No. 4 in the summer of 1983. Probably one of the most recognisable Wham! songs, it’s one you can’t deny moving or singing along to.

The next song on ‘The Final’ was Wham!’s first number one, and the first single from their second album. ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ is Wham! personified and was a classic pop song of the 80’s. ‘Careless Whisper’ was George Michael’s first solo single on Wham!’s second album, although was released in the US as Wham! featuring George Michael. A transatlantic No. 1 and a song George is still known for today. For the second album’s third No. 1 in a row, ‘Freedom’ made it to the top spot in 1984.

Appropriately for this time of year, ‘Last Christmas’ is up next. This song topped off a hugely successful 1984 for Wham! and was only kept off the UK Christmas No. 1 spot by Band Aid. ‘Last Christmas’ sold over a million copies and is the biggest selling single in the UK not to get to number one! A remix of ‘Everything She Wants’ has an outing next, and was apparently George Michael’s favourite song from the Wham! era. ‘I’m Your Man’ was another No. 1 single, and reached the top of the charts in late 1985.

Another George Michael solo single made an appearance on a Wham! album. ‘A Different Corner’ reached No. 1 in April 1986, and is still a gorgeous song today. Two new songs emerged on ‘The Final’ – ‘Battlestations’ showed an indication of the direction George would take his career post-Wham!, and ‘Where Did Your Heart Go?’ was a solid cover of the Was (Not Was) song. Fittingly, the final song on the album was Wham!’s final single, ‘The Edge Of Heaven’- a nod to earlier Wham! classics and their last ever No.1.

So there you have it, a compilation of songs that have stood the test of time, by a band who WERE the 80’s. Yes, Wham! were cheesy, but weren’t most things in the 80’s? The fact of the matter is, the band made and released great pop songs that are STILL played and recognised today – and that’s the sign of a great band. Buy this album to reminisce, re-discover old classics, and have the opportunity at this time of year, to listen to ‘Last Christmas’ guilt free – “because it’s nostalgic!”. Perfect!

 

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29 novembre 2011 2 29 /11 /novembre /2011 11:07

 

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14 novembre 2011 1 14 /11 /novembre /2011 16:33

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Wham! are back on 28 November with a 2-disc anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album, from 1986.

The pop duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgely went out on a high 25 years ago, with this exceptional record that documents a short, but amazingly successful, career in pop. The Final contains six UK no.1  hits including both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). In addition to the standard 14-track CD, the forthcoming deluxe edition will include a DVD with 13 fully restored videos (one short of the audio selection, since the track Battlestations didn’t have a video).

Back in 1986 Wham! were unwittingly early pioneers of the Super Deluxe Edition, since The Final came out as a limited edition (25,000!) box set, which included double gold LP, a calendar, a t-shirt, and a pencil and Wham! pad. Nice!

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Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)

Not a hit in June 1982 when first released, but was subsequently re-released in January 1983 (after Young Guns (Go For It!)) when it reached no.8 in the charts. Wham Rap! was rather political in a very simplistic way. The message was clear, working is for jerks. If you don’t enjoy what you do just stop “Cos the benefit gang are going to pay”.

It’s the 12″ version on The Final even though it’s only labelled as such on the vinyl version. In fact the 7″ version has never appeared on a Wham! CD since the 12″ version was on the first album Fantastic. An ’86 remix [Wham Rap '86] was included as part of the 7″ double-pack and the 12″ of the last single Edge of Heaven. It’s also on the American compilation Music From The Edge of Heaven (a cut down version of The Final).

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Young Guns (Go For It!)

The second single but the first hit. It reached no.3 in late 1982. Again, it’s the 12″ version on The Final

Bad Boys

George Michael is on record as early as 1984 saying he “hates” this song. It’s the only Wham! single not on the 1997 The Best Of Wham! album, however it was present and correct on The Final back in 1986 which is not surprising since it was the biggest hit from their debut album, reaching no.2 in May 1983. The 12″ version is on the original vinyl of The Final but the CD is the standard version.

Club Tropicana

The fourth and final single from the Fantastic album, reaching no.4 in the charts, in the summer of 1983. The b-side Blue (Armed With Love) was a rare example of George Michael putting a high quality new track on the flip-side of a single. This was recognised by it’s inclusion on the cassette and LP version of The Final, although it was not on the original CD and nor does it appear on the 25th anniversary re-release. This is a shame because it has only ever been issued on CD on a rather obscure Japanese CD single of Club Tropicana. Blue (Live In China), a significantly reworked live rendition, did appear on the US Music From The Edge of Heaven.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

The band’s first number one and the first single from the second album, the appropriately titled Make It Big. There was no 12″ remix and the b-side was an instrumental. A classic pop song of the era.

Careless Whisper

George Michael’s first solo single was on the Wham! album Make It Big, but released in the US as Wham! featuring George Michael. A transatlantic no.1, the version on The Final is actually the full length version, which also appears on Make It Big. Jerry Wexler originally produced this track before George decided to remake it himself. The Wexler version was given an official release, briefly, on the flipside of a limited edition UK 12″ but has never been released on CD (see video below for this rarely heard version).

Freedom

A third number one in a row from Make It Big, Freedom was Wham! at the peak of their powers. There was a “Long Mix” 12″ version but the on The Final it is the standard mix albeit with a unique ‘outro’ when a trumpet comes in.

Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)

A double A-side with Everything She Wants, Last Christmas topped a ludicrously successful 1984 for Wham!, and George Michael in particular. Only kept off the UK no.1 spot by the Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas? charity single, it sold over a million copies and is apparently the highest selling single in UK history not to get to the number one spot. The 12″ “Pudding Mix” was for years the de facto standard version of the song, appearing on The Best of Wham! in 1997 as well as The Final. In fact it wasn’t until 2006 that the standard 7″ mix appeared on a Wham! /George Michael CD (his Twenty Five greatest hits album).

Everything She Wants (Remix)

Another remix which replaced the  standard 7″ mix on all the compilations. It’s easy to see why, since it’s far superior to the standard version which a whole extra verse at the end. George Michael has been quoted as saying that this was his favourite song from the Wham! era.

I’m Your Man

Back to the top spot, in late 1985 with this standalone single. The Extended Stimulation 12″ version was on the Vinyl and Cassette of The Final but not the CD. The US compilation Music From The Edge of Heaven actually contains a unique remix which is very similar to the Extended Stimulation mix but doesn’t have the silly voices talking about ‘magic cars’ in the middle, and instead maintains the 7″ structure at this point.  The cassette single contained an acappella version of the song and an instrumental called Do It Right was also on some formats.

A Different Corner

Another solo George Michael single makes an appearance on a Wham! album. A no.1 (what else) in April 1986. There is a version of this track with an extended string intro but that is only on Music From The Edge of Heaven. In fact that version is not even on the UK 12″ single which just contains the standard 7″, the same as The Final. The instrumental version from the b-side is unreleased on CD.

Battlestations

One of the new tracks on the 7″ double-pack and the 12″ of the last single Edge of Heaven. A great song, Battlestations gave the best indication as to the direction George Michael would taking his music post-Wham!, with a fairly sparse stripped down approach and drum machines. Very Prince-like. This track could easily have been on his first solo album Faith.

Where Did Your Heart Go?

Another new song, this time a solid cover of the Was (Not Was) song. It again formed part of the final E.P. although it was released separately later in 1986.

The Edge Of Heaven

The final single predictably hit no.1 in the UK charts. It managed to keep the effervescence of earlier Wham! releases and was actually a really strong single to end on, even if it did feature a somewhat unnecessary guitar solo, that may or may not have been played by Andrew Ridgely.

So there we have it. There is nothing not to like about this compilation. Wham! were once pop royalty, along with bands like Culture Club and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Yes, they could be a bit silly, with the shuttlecocks, “Choose Life” T-shirts, day-glo teeth and the ‘Lady’ Diana haircuts. This was the 80s don’t forget. But the songs have stood the test of time – great pop songs – and that is what makes the difference. 1997′s The Best of Wham! missed out Bad Boys and had awful updates of some tracks (Everything She Wants ’97, I’m Your Man ’96 – urgh!) so The Final remains the people’s Wham! compilation of choice.

 

Wham! The Final 2-disc 25th Anniversary Edition is released on 28 November on Sony. Pre-order here.

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9 novembre 2011 3 09 /11 /novembre /2011 12:59

 

In five years, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, as the U.K. pop duo WHAM!, released two albums, one compilation and a dozen singles. Only one of those releases placed anywhere beneath their native Top 10. No matter what you think of the group’s candy-coated pop stylings, those are incredible numbers in such a short period of time.

We could debate the impact of WHAM! all day – and this author would certainly side with them. (Their debut album Fantastic is, at worst, throwaway pop, and follow-up Make It Big is laden with pop hooks, all penned by Michael and Ridgeley themselves. As recent reissues have proven, Michael was a pop genius in his own right.) But those numbers can’t lie – WHAM! remain a popular relic of the 1980s, as sales of even 1998′s The Best of WHAM! If You Were There… (a U.K. Top 5 album) can attest to.

Now, in celebration of the compilation that took their career out on a high note, 1986′s The Final, a 25th anniversary edition is being planned for the U.K., featuring a bonus DVD of the group’s many hit music videos.

The year 1986 saw WHAM! do something nobody expected: they went out on top. Michael and Ridgeley amicably separated that summer, in order for Michael to attempt to woo a more mature audience with his advanced brand of pop songcraft. But they went out with a bang, issuing the chart-topping farewell single “The Edge of Heaven” and a neat compilation, The Final, to summarize the group. Featuring a killer cadre of hit singles (some of which appeared in their 12″ mixes. depending on which configuration of the album you bought) and a few new tracks (including the underrated “Where Did Your Heart Go?,” originally performed by Was (Not Was) and Michael’s first solo single, “A Different Corner”), it’s not hard to see why The Final was such a hit. (Harder to explain is the album’s absence from the U.S. market. Instead, the new tracks, along with some B-sides, were packaged as a new album, Music from the Edge of Heaven.)

This new reissue, to be released in the U.K. on November 28, features a newly-designed package, featuring a mirrorboard slipcase version of the iconic album sleeve, and comes packed with a DVD featuring all of WHAM!’s original music videos – in total, 13 of the 14 tracks on the compilation. Hit the jump for full discographical details and an order link!

WHAM! The Final: 25th Anniversary Edition (Sony Music U.K., 2011)


Disc 1: Original compilation (released as Epic 86681 (U.K.), 1986 – this track listing is identical to original CD)

  1. WHAM! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
  2. Young Guns (Go for It!) (12″ Version)
  3. Bad Boys
  4. Club Tropicana
  5. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  6. Careless Whisper (Single Version)
  7. Freedom
  8. Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)
  9. Everything She Wants (Remix)
  10. I’m Your Man
  11. A Different Corner
  12. Battlestations
  13. Where Did Your Heart Go?
  14. The Edge of Heaven

Original versions of Tracks 1-4 from Fantastic (Inner Vision IVL 25328 (U.K.)/Epic FC 38911 (U.S.), 1983)

  • Track 2 released as Inner Vision 12″ single IVL A13 2766 (U.K.), 1982

Original versions of Tracks 5-7 and 9 from Make It Big (Epic 86311 (U.K.)/Columbia FC 39595 (U.S.), 1984)

  • Track 6 released on Epic single A 4603 (U.K.)/Columbia single 38-04691 (U.S.), 1984
  • Track 7 is an alternate mix exclusive to this compilation
  • Track 9 released on Epic 12″ single QTA 4949 (U.K.)/Columbia 12″ single 44-05810 (U.S.), 1984

Track 8 was the 12″ B-side to “Everything She Wants” (Epic QTA 4949 (U.K.)/Columbia 44-05810 (U.S.), 1984). Later released as U.K. 12″ A-side (Epic WHAM T1, 1985).
Track 10 was a non-LP single (Epic A 6716 (U.K.)/Columbia 38-05721 (U.S.), 1985)
Tracks 11-14 are new tracks.

  • Track 11 released as Epic single A 7033 (U.K.)/Columbia single 39-0588 (U.S.), 1986.
  • Tracks 12-14 originally released as a 12″ single (Epic FIN T1 (U.K.), 1986).

Disc 2: DVD – promo videos

  1. WHAM! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
  2. Young Guns (Go for It!)
  3. Bad Boys
  4. Club Tropicana
  5. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  6. Careless Whisper
  7. Freedom
  8. Last Christmas
  9. Everything She Wants
  10. I’m Your Man
  11. A Different Corner
  12. Where Did Your Heart Go?
  13. The Edge of Heaven

This title will be released on November 28, 2011

amazon.co.uk/

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9 novembre 2011 3 09 /11 /novembre /2011 12:56

Wham! were one of the biggest UK pop groups with over 25 million record sales worldwide. George Michael and Andrew Ridgley’s incredible catalogue of hits remain some of the best pop songs ever written, and they evoke memories of the decade famed for big hair and even bigger shoulder pads. In the UK alone Wham! scored 11 Top 10 singles, 6 hitting the # 1 spot. Their songs, the styling and especially the videos remain massively iconic and define an era.

The Final is seen by many as the definitive Wham! album, containing all 14 hits. Originally released 25 years ago in 1986 when the pop duo split, it perfectly sums up their incredible career. Their ‘Choose Life’ mantra made George and Andrew the poster boys of the Eighties, and the music became the soundtrack of a generation. From the carefree pop of Club Tropicana to the festive standard Last Christmas, and from the perfection of Freedom to the haunting ballad Careless Whisper, The Final is a must have for any music fan.

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed Wham! after becoming school friends in Watford. They went on to sign to Epic Records and become global stars. In just 5 years, Wham! became a phenomena. With their ever-present and glamorous sidekicks Pepsi and Shirlie, Wham! were everywhere. They were the first Western band to tour China in 1985, and their final concert at Wembley Stadium a year later is still praised as a defining moment in popular culture. George went on to become arguably the biggest pop star the UK has ever produced, while Andrew chose a quieter path and withdrew from public life. But the music has kept the band alive, and has not diminished with time. Each track is a pop classic, and The Final remains the definitive popular music collection.

The limited edition version of The Final features all 13 fully restored videos on 1 bonus DVD. Wham! became synonymous with their videos and their look. From the frolics at Club Tropicana (where the drinks were apparently free) to the moody heartbreak of Careless Whisper, to the sheer joy of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Wham! were at the very forefront of this new medium when videos actually enhanced the songs.

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14 novembre 2008 5 14 /11 /novembre /2008 18:13
THE BEST OF WHAM


CD Pressing Information

Label: Epic
Catalog#: 489020 2, 01-489020-10
Format: CD
Country: UK
Released: 1997
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop


Track List


01. If You Were There 03:43
02. I'm Your Man 04:06
03. Everything She Wants 06:29
04. Club Tropicana 04:30
05. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go 03:51
06. Like A Baby 04:16
07. Freedom 05:20
08. The Edge Of Heaven 04:37
09. Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) 06:46
10. Young Gunes (Gor For It) 03:41
11. Last Christmas 06:48
12. Where Did Your Heart Go 05:42
13. Everything She Wants '97 06:01
14. I'm Your Man '96 04:32

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14 novembre 2008 5 14 /11 /novembre /2008 18:09
 
CD Pressing Information

Label: Epic
Catalog#: 450125 2
Format: CD
Country: Austria
Released: 1992
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop


Track List


01. Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do) (Unsocial Mix) 06:43
02. Young Guns (Go For It) 05:11
03. Freedom (Long Mix) 07:06
04. Everything She Wants (Remix) 06:30
05. I'm Your Man (Extended Stimulation) 06:54

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14 novembre 2008 5 14 /11 /novembre /2008 18:08


CD Pressing Information

Label: Columbia
Catalog#: CK 40285
Format: CD
Country: US
Released: 1986
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop


Track List


01. The Edge Of Heaven 04:30
02. Battlestations 05:26
03. I'm Your Man 06:05
04. Wham! Rap '86 06:38
05. A Different Corner 04:32
06. Blue (Live In China) 05:42
07. Where Did Your Heart Go? 05:42
08. Last Christmas 06:43

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14 novembre 2008 5 14 /11 /novembre /2008 18:06

CD Pressing Information

Label: Epic, Sony Music Entertainment (UK)
Catalog#: CDEPC 88681, 01-088681-10
Format: CD
Country: EUROPE
Released: 1986
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop, Disco


Track List


01. Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?) 06:42
02. Young Guns (Go For It!) 05:11
03. Bad Boys 03:19
04. Club Tropicana 04:28
05. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go 03:50
06. Careless Whisper 05:01
07. Freedom 05:20
08. Last Christmas (Pudding Mix) 06:45
09. Everything She Wants 06:29
10. I'm Your Man 04:03
11. A Different Corner 03:58
12. Battlestations 05:30
13. Where Did Your Heart Go 05:42
14. The Edge Of Heaven 04:38

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14 novembre 2008 5 14 /11 /novembre /2008 18:05

CD Pressing Information

Label: Epic
Catalog#: EPC 465576 2
Format: CD
Country: UK
Released: 14 Sep 1989
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synth-pop


Track List


01. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go 03:50
02. Everything She Wants 05:02
03. Heartbeat 04:44
04. Like A Baby 04:13
05. Freedom 05:00
06. If You Were There 03:37
07. Credit Card Baby 05:08
08. Careless Whisper 06:33

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George Michael

 

 

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Georgios Kyriákos Panayótou