George Michael – Faith

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  • Outstanding sound for this George Michael classic – both sides earned Double Plus (A++) sonic grades
  • The domestic pressings are a dubby joke next to these British originals – finally, here is the size, clarity and Tubey Magic you’ve always wanted this music to have
  • With six (6!) Top Ten hits, this album is chock full of brilliantly produced and passionately performed material
  • 5 stars: “A superbly crafted mainstream pop/rock masterpiece, Faith made George Michael an international solo star… All of it adds up to one of the finest pop albums of the ’80s, setting a high-water mark that Michael was only able to reach in isolated moments afterward.”

*NOTE: On side two, a mark makes 10 light ticks during the intro to Track 1, Hard Day.

This vintage import Epic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Faith have to offer is not hard to hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1987
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Rock in the Eighties

For Big Production Rock Albums such as this there are some obvious problem areas that are heard on one or both sides of practically any copy of Faith.

With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared — problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts — the mix quickly becomes congested, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of musical interest.

Transparency, clarity and presence are key. Note that none of the British copies we played was excessively thin. (Unlike the domestic copies — they are clearly made from dubs and lack the richness only found on the imports.) Most had a fair amount of Tubey Magic and bass, so thankfully that was almost never a problem.

However, many did lack top end extension and transparency to some degree, and many were overly compressed. The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this complex music to life and allowed us to make sense of it.

This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.

What We’re Listening For on Faith

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Faith
Father Figure
I Want Your Sex (Parts 1 & 2)
One More Try

Side Two

Hard Day
Hand To Mouth
Look At Your Hands
Monkey
Kissing A Fool

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

A superbly crafted mainstream pop/rock masterpiece, Faith made George Michael an international solo star, selling over ten million copies in the U.S. alone as of 2000. Perhaps even more impressively, it also made him the first white solo artist to hit number one on the R&B album charts. Michael had already proven the soulful power of his pipes by singing a duet with Aretha Franklin on the 1987 smash “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” but he went even farther when it came to crafting his own material, using sophisticated ’70s soul as an indispensable part of his foundation.

Of course, it’s only a part. Faith’s ingenuity lies in the way it straddles pop, adult contemporary, R&B, and dance music as though there were no distinctions between them. In addition to his basic repertoire of funky dance-pop and airy, shimmering ballads, Michael appropriates the Bo Diddley beat for the rockabilly-tinged title track, and proves himself a better-than-decent torch singer on the cocktail jazz of “Kissing a Fool.” Michael arranged and produced the album himself, and the familiarity of many of these songs can obscure his skills in those departments — close listening reveals his knack for shifting elements in and out of the mix and adding subtle embellishments when a little emphasis or variety is needed. …All of it adds up to one of the finest pop albums of the ’80s, setting a high-water mark that Michael was only able to reach in isolated moments afterward.

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