In the Mix

‘Faith’ remastered is a winner

February 11th, 2011

Courtesy GeorgeMichael.com

No matter what you think of his sexuality or the path his career has taken over the past 20 years, the fact remains — George Michael created a masterpiece when he released “Faith” in November 1987.

The accolades don’t lie:

» More than 10 million (yes, MILLION) copies sold in 1988

» More than 85 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart (including 12 weeks at the top in ’88)

» Four number one Billboard singles

» A Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1988

» 137 sold-out concerts worldwide in support of the album

So when Epic Records, Legacy Recordings and the artists own website, www.GeorgeMichael.com, decided to release a trio of commemorative re-release packages, the bar was set pretty high. How do you capture the lightning in a bottle, so to speak, of the original in what has become an increasingly cluttered music landscape?

The answer, apparently, was to allow Michael’s fans to decide just how fanatical they wanted to be. Along with the “Faith: Deluxe Edition” package available exclusively at his website, a “Faith: Special Edition” double-disc/DVD package and “Faith: 2CD Remastered Edition” are also available for purchase online. All three are worth the price of admission for ‘80s babies and anyone else who wants to relive Michael’s foray into the solo world after his departure from Wham! in 1986.

Let’s start with the music. All the hits you remember from “Faith” — the title track, “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Monkey,” “Kissing a Fool” (my personal favorite) and, of course, “I Want Your Sex” — are there in their remastered glory. I can remember listening to (and still have in my CD collection!) this album on my treasured Sony Discman, and I don’t know if it’s just me, but I can hear instruments on the remastered version much clearer than I remember on the original.

A second disc in the re-release contains instrumental versions of “Faith” and “Kissing a Fool,” plus three versions of “Monkey,” a live version of “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” a remix of “Hard Day” and the songs “Fantasy” and “I Believe When I Fall in Love.” The DVD included with the “Special Edition” and “Deluxe Edition” provides fans with music videos of Michael’s hits, plus a 1987 interview with the artist and “Music Money Love Faith,” which was originally released in 1988.

The interview, filmed in London in 1987 and billed as Jonathan Ross “having words” with Michael, is a fantastic counterpoint to the 2010 interview included in the book that’s included with the “Special” and “Deluxe” editions. You get a glimpse of what he was like during the period of time when his career was skyrocketing, plus a more introspective look back via the print interview with Mark Goodier. A companion piece in the book by Robbie Elson also provides important perspective on Michael’s place on the pop music landscape and his influence on both the music industry and mainstream society.

Go all out and buy the “Deluxe Edition,” and the goodies you’ll receive should be a pretty big deal for any hardcore George Michael fan. Along with the CDs, DVD and book, you get a vinyl replica LP of the album and a “memorabilia envelope” (includes five art prints, poster, tickets and “Faith” tour pass) in a numbered box that’s presented in a black and gold foil slipcase. The “Deluxe Edition” is available now, and the first 2,000 orders will also receive a specially-designed, numbered art print that’s exclusive to the set.

Would I personally go that far? Probably not. But the bonus CD and accompanying DVD are definitely worth it, and if you’re going to go as far as buying the “Special Edition,” be sure to actually take the time and read the book that comes with the music. You may just realize you have a new level of respect for the greatness that “Faith” is — and continues to be — nearly 25 years after the album was first released.

George Michael - 'Faith: Special Edition'

Three stars

» Info: www.georgemichael.com

» Buy online: "Faith: Special Edition" or "Faith: 2CD Remastered Edition"

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