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Give A Wham! Give A Bam!

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Sep. 26th, 2006 | 01:55 pm


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There hasn’t been much to grace our hit parade in the form of well hardened, matured cheese, until we witnessed the birth of the God Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (or George Michael to you Mr Spell-check) in the popped up, leather clad outfit named Wham! This unusual Greek from the even more unusual Finchley in Middlesex with his finely crafted jaw bone and mop of continental curly hair dragged the more unfortunately good looking Andrew Ridgley off his feet and they started a firm friendship.

Attending the same school in Bushey, London, they left and formed a amateur set up called The Executive. Being Ska driven around this time of 1979, it appeared rather quickly to the youngsters that everyone was trying to be in a Ska band and unless your name was Terry Hall, your chances looked pretty slim. Hitting the big time was going to have to be approached at a different angle, so they focused on a duo set up along with their stunning faces with bodies to match and called themselves Wham!

Andrew and George might have been seen as all brawn and no brains but they knew immediately that they could literally sell themselves. Sex sells, as we already know, and considering that the vast majority of the record buying public were young, high hormoned, giggly girls, Wham! homed in on their attention like two greased, hit seeking missiles. What they actually did accomplish, almost overnight, was the ultimate dream teen team. Perfectly polished and truly greased to Godliness, they pouted, shuffled, slouched and drove girls of twelve years old wild with their Elvis-like visual themes.
Many a wet knicker was achieved and the hits started rolling like an avalanche.

The only down fall of the super clean, all snarling duo was their unfortunate brush with a dodgy record label. ‘Innervision,’ the short lived label gave out very little, if none at all in loyalties for the success that followed ‘Fantastic’s’ release in July 1983. Sadly failing to recoup any monies owed to them , they signed up with Epic before any other record was going to be released although it was another year before the battle with the dirty label was finally over.

‘Fantastic’ was primarily a British release. With its photo album style inner sleeve featuring shots of the boys at different ages and a slick, leather clad image of the pair on the front cover, it denotes the genre within. It was going to be with their single, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,’ in May 1984, before America started to sit up and take note. Featuring four top ten hits, it wasn’t a surprise to find the album go straight to number one. Staying for an incredible 116 weeks in the album chart, they were, as they predicted, the technicoloured line through the darkly morose eighties pop chart. Being fed up with the monochromed existence of the new wave generation, to finally see something in all the brightest colours imaginable was a blessed relief. Sun kissed lads, out having a good time on the beaches, chatting up babes and sipping cocktails took us gleefully away from the dull, droned sounds of likes of Blondie, The Cure and others. In the height of the Thatcher years, the future of Britain looked dark and featureless. Wham! Had given us hope, light and something to feel happy about again. So, without further or do, let’s leave the dreariness of the wet weekends behind make an unforgettable entrance in to the world they called Club Tropicana.

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