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First look (and listen): George Michael's 'Faith' gets the deluxe reissue treatment

December 17, 2010 |  8:28 am

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George Michael fans might want to hold off on spending that gift card, because the British pop star's classic 1987 album "Faith" is getting the deluxe reissue treatment in the form of a massive limited-edition box set to be released on Jan. 31 -- and Pop & Hiss received an advance copy in the mail Thursday.

The heavy-duty package consists of: a remastered CD of the 10-song album; CD of original remixes, instrumentals, 7-inch singles and B-sides; 180-gram replica vinyl; DVD with interviews and videos; memorabilia with art, tickets, replica tour pass; and full knowledge that you'll have nearly everything you need from the "diamond certified" (10 million copies or more sold in the U.S.) classic dance/pop/blue-eyed soul/R&B classic. (What's missing? They should have offered the stems of a few songs too, so amateur remixers can grab distinct bass, rhythm and vocal tracks and remake "I Want Your Sex" any way he or she or she/he sees fit. The good news is that the a capella of "Monkey" is on here.)

You know the songs: "Father Figure," "I Want Your Sex," "Faith," "One More Try" and six others that, combined as "Faith,"  spent 12 weeks at No. 1 and 87 weeks in the Billboard Top 200. Michael wrote, produced and arranged the album, which propelled him to international superstardom (he was already an icon in England as part of Wham! which made huge dance tracks in the early and mid-1980s).

Combined in one jumbo package, fans of the pop star, who is, unfortunately, in the news more often these days for his nonmusical run-ins with the police -- and crashes into buildings -- will find much to peruse in the package. Highlights include the CD of rarities, especially the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis remix of "Monkey," the instrumental versions of "Faith" and "Kissing a Fool," and a wildly infectious Shep Pettibone remix of "Hard Day."

The book, bound in a deep, black cover with the word "FAITH" printed in gold on it, is perfect for Michael fans whose desire extends beyond the music and into the beauty of the man himself, in all his three-day-stubbled, tight-jeaned glory. His smile lights up pages; the dangling gold cross sparkles on his left ear; that shimmering head of hair. An interview and essay round out the package, each revealing a different side of one of the 1980s' biggest stars.

For those not willing to plunk down the $141.57 (plus tax and shipping) preorder asking price can settle for a slighter two-CD/one-DVD "Faith: Special Edition" package, which includes the remastered original release, the remix/B-sides disc and all the videos. (Honestly, you can usually track down a cheap copy of "Faith" at any secondhand record store -- why settle for a replica when you can have the original?)

But you wouldn't get that "Faith" book, and part the allure of Michael's music has always been the man behind the mirror-shades. With George Michael, his image, style and music were intertwined, something that's immediately apparent within the deluxe box. He's an original, and all the car crashes, sexcapades and stumbles can't seem to diminish that fact.

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: George Michael's "Faith" deluxe reissue. Credit: Sony/Legacy

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