Below is the write-up about George Michael’s album Faith from the book “The Billboard Book of Number One Albums: The Inside Story Behind Pop Music’s Blockbuster Records” by Craig Rosen.
After the break-up of Wham!, George Michael had already begun to establish himself as a solo star. In early 1987, he recorded “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet with legendary R&B diva Aretha Franklin. The single went to Number One on both sides of the Atlantic and would provide adequate momentum for the release of Michael’s first solo album later that year.
The song “Faith,” and much of the album, was recorded at Puk Studios in Denmark. “George wanted to do this acoustic guitar thing, but the only acoustic guitar that was around was this horrible aluminum-body guitar that [the British punk group] the Damned had left there,” says engineer Chris Porter. A phone call was placed to have another acoustic guitar delivered to the studio, but by the time it arrived, the track had already been recorded. “So that’s what you hear, and it became the signature sound of the record,” says Porter. “He said he wanted a Bo Diddley kind of rhythm and he wanted everything stark and dry.”
The Top Five: Week of January 16, 1988
- “Faith” – George Michael
- “Dirty Dancing” – Soundtrack
- “Tiffany” – Tiffany
- “Bad” – Michael Jackson
- “Whitesnake” – Whitesnake
Also recorded during the sessions was “I Want Your Sex.” The squelching sound heard throughout the track was the result of an accident, says Porter. “We were experimenting, trying to tie a bunch of machines together, and when we started the sequencer, this strange squelching sound came out.” It as the song’s lyrics, however, rather than its sound, that created a stir.
“Since the AIDS issue was looming large, George felt it was important to say it was about monogamy,” Porter says. To drive the point home, “Monogamy” was spelled out on the back of Michael’s girlfriend in the video clip.
While working on Faith, Porter noticed once again that Michael’s talent continued to grow. “I was completely knocked out by the vocal on ‘One More Try”, he says. “I really started to see what a good soul singer he was becoming. I think that track had a lot to do with the album’s success on the R&B charts, rather than a lot of the poppier stuff.”
“I Want Your Sex,” which was released prior to the album and featured on the soundtrack of Beverly Hills II, peaked at number two, yet there was no stopping “Faith.” On December 12, 1987, the song became Michael’s first Number One solo single. A little more than a month later, Michael also had his first Number One solo album.
Faith went on to yield three more chart-toppers – “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” and “Monkey” – and established Michael as a superstar. It also laid to rest Michael’s teeny-bopper image from the Wham! days.
“We had no idea the album would sell as well as it did,” says Porter, “but we did know that it would make people see him in a different light.”
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- BBC Hardtalk Interview with George Michael (2003)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- George Michael’s Oprah Winfrey Show Interview (2004)