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Keep the Faith...?
on 3 October 2006
I've been a fan of George Michael for most of the 25 years that the title of this collection refers to - the goatee, the earrings (including the Faith-era crucifix), the gallons of hairspray, I had it all. And like so many fans I was genuinely excited about his first live dates in the UK for 15 years and the promise of new material. But the problem with this collection lies in that last sentence - namely, the quality of the new material and the fact that his best days barely cover the first half of the last 25 years.
Now, we all know that he's had problems in his personal life, but an output of one very dodgy covers album and one collection of new material since 1990 makes George as prolific as Kate Bush or Scritti Politti. Most of his fans are - I would guess - in their mid-to-late-30s, survivors from the days of Wham! and Faith. And these people are going to be a bit miffed when they're asked to fork out another £12-99 for 27 tracks which they already own at least twice (on the original albums and the previous 'Best Of' collections), plus two new compositions. The four Wham! tracks and two early solo singles are making their fourth appearance on a Greatest Hits CD, which is hardly offering value for money to his loyal (but increasingly disgruntled) fans.
Breaking the album down, we find the aforementioned four Wham! singles - all from 1984 - plus three each from Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice (1990, and still my all-time favourite album), five from Older (1996), and an incredible six from the frankly disappointing Patience (2004). But look at what's missing... Somebody to Love with Queen, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) with Aretha Franklin, I Want Your Sex, Kissing a Fool, Waiting For That Day, Star People. Can anyone really say that Freeek or An Easier Affair (in my opinion his weakest single ever) are better songs?
The problem with this release is that most people viewing this page will own just about every track already, and if you don't then you're probably too young to remember what the fuss was about in the first place. You'd be better off buying 1998's 'Best Of' Ladies & Gentlemen instead - it's not completely up-to-date, but to be blunt, it's an infinitely superior representation of the man and his music.