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Wham! / The Final / 25th Anniversary Special Edition


Wham! / The Final / 25th Anniversary Edition / CD+DVDWham!
are back on 28 November with a 2-disc anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album, from 1986.

The pop duo of George Michael and Andrew Ridgely went out on a high 25 years ago, with this exceptional record that documents a short, but amazingly successful, career in pop. The Final contains six UK no.1  hits including both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). In addition to the standard 14-track CD, the forthcoming deluxe edition will include a DVD with 13 fully restored videos (one short of the audio selection, since the track Battlestations didn’t have a video).

Wham! / The Final / 1986 Box Set

The 'super deluxe edition' of The Final

Back in 1986 Wham! were unwittingly early pioneers of the Super Deluxe Edition, since The Final came out as a limited edition (25,000!) box set, which included double gold LP, a calendar, a t-shirt, and a pencil and Wham! pad. Nice!

Wham! / The Final / 1986 Box Set

Inside: A t-shirt, two gold vinyl LPs and more

Nothing on the album is exactly obscure, but for your enjoyment we present a lively walkthrough of the tracks on the record, with the odd bit of trivia thrown in for good measure!

Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do?)

Not a hit in June 1982 when first released, but was subsequently re-released in January 1983 (after Young Guns (Go For It!)) when it reached no.8 in the charts. Wham Rap! was rather political in a very simplistic way. The message was clear, working is for jerks. If you don’t enjoy what you do just stop “Cos the benefit gang are going to pay”.

It’s the 12″ version on The Final even though it’s only labelled as such on the vinyl version. In fact the 7″ version has never appeared on a Wham! CD since the 12″ version was on the first album Fantastic. An ’86 remix [Wham Rap ’86] was included as part of the 7″ double-pack and the 12″ of the last single Edge of Heaven. It’s also on the American compilation Music From The Edge of Heaven (a cut down version of The Final).

Young Guns (Go For It!)

The second single but the first hit. It reached no.3 in late 1982. Again, it’s the 12″ version on The Final

Bad Boys

George Michael is on record as early as 1984 saying he “hates” this song. It’s the only Wham! single not on the 1997 The Best Of Wham! album, however it was present and correct on The Final back in 1986 which is not surprising since it was the biggest hit from their debut album, reaching no.2 in May 1983. The 12″ version is on the original vinyl of The Final but the CD is the standard version.

Club Tropicana

The fourth and final single from the Fantastic album, reaching no.4 in the charts, in the summer of 1983. The b-side Blue (Armed With Love) was a rare example of George Michael putting a high quality new track on the flip-side of a single. This was recognised by it’s inclusion on the cassette and LP version of The Final, although it was not on the original CD and nor does it appear on the 25th anniversary re-release. This is a shame because it has only ever been issued on CD on a rather obscure Japanese CD single of Club Tropicana. Blue (Live In China), a significantly reworked live rendition, did appear on the US Music From The Edge of Heaven.

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go

The band’s first number one and the first single from the second album, the appropriately titled Make It Big. There was no 12″ remix and the b-side was an instrumental. A classic pop song of the era.

Careless Whisper

George Michael’s first solo single was on the Wham! album Make It Big, but released in the US as Wham! featuring George Michael. A transatlantic no.1, the version on The Final is actually the full length version, which also appears on Make It Big. Jerry Wexler originally produced this track before George decided to remake it himself. The Wexler version was given an official release, briefly, on the flipside of a limited edition UK 12″ but has never been released on CD (see video below for this rarely heard version).

Freedom

A third number one in a row from Make It Big, Freedom was Wham! at the peak of their powers. There was a “Long Mix” 12″ version but the on The Final it is the standard mix albeit with a unique ‘outro’ when a trumpet comes in.

Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)

A double A-side with Everything She Wants, Last Christmas topped a ludicrously successful 1984 for Wham!, and George Michael in particular. Only kept off the UK no.1 spot by the Band Aid, Do They Know It’s Christmas? charity single, it sold over a million copies and is apparently the highest selling single in UK history not to get to the number one spot. The 12″ “Pudding Mix” was for years the de facto standard version of the song, appearing on The Best of Wham! in 1997 as well as The Final. In fact it wasn’t until 2006 that the standard 7″ mix appeared on a Wham! /George Michael CD (his Twenty Five greatest hits album).

Everything She Wants (Remix)

Another remix which replaced the  standard 7″ mix on all the compilations. It’s easy to see why, since it’s far superior to the standard version which a whole extra verse at the end. George Michael has been quoted as saying that this was his favourite song from the Wham! era.

I’m Your Man

Back to the top spot, in late 1985 with this standalone single. The Extended Stimulation 12″ version was on the Vinyl and Cassette of The Final but not the CD. The US compilation Music From The Edge of Heaven actually contains a unique remix which is very similar to the Extended Stimulation mix but doesn’t have the silly voices talking about ‘magic cars’ in the middle, and instead maintains the 7″ structure at this point.  The cassette single contained an acappella version of the song and an instrumental called Do It Right was also on some formats.

A Different Corner

Another solo George Michael single makes an appearance on a Wham! album. A no.1 (what else) in April 1986. There is a version of this track with an extended string intro but that is only on Music From The Edge of Heaven. In fact that version is not even on the UK 12″ single which just contains the standard 7″, the same as The Final. The instrumental version from the b-side is unreleased on CD.

Battlestations

One of the new tracks on the 7″ double-pack and the 12″ of the last single Edge of Heaven. A great song, Battlestations gave the best indication as to the direction George Michael would taking his music post-Wham!, with a fairly sparse stripped down approach and drum machines. Very Prince-like. This track could easily have been on his first solo album Faith.

Where Did Your Heart Go?

Another new song, this time a solid cover of the Was (Not Was) song. It again formed part of the final E.P. although it was released separately later in 1986.

The Edge Of Heaven

The final single predictably hit no.1 in the UK charts. It managed to keep the effervescence of earlier Wham! releases and was actually a really strong single to end on, even if it did feature a somewhat unnecessary guitar solo, that may or may not have been played by Andrew Ridgely.

So there we have it. There is nothing not to like about this compilation. Wham! were once pop royalty, along with bands like Culture Club and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Yes, they could be a bit silly, with the shuttlecocks, “Choose Life” T-shirts, day-glo teeth and the ‘Lady’ Diana haircuts. This was the 80s don’t forget. But the songs have stood the test of time – great pop songs – and that is what makes the difference. 1997’s The Best of Wham! missed out Bad Boys and had awful updates of some tracks (Everything She Wants ’97, I’m Your Man ’96 – urgh!) so The Final remains the people’s Wham! compilation of choice.

Wham! The Final 2-disc 25th Anniversary Edition is released on 28 November on Sony. Pre-order here.

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15 responses to Wham! / The Final / 25th Anniversary Special Edition

  1. Mark says:

    Is this remastered and does it have both versions of “Careless Whisper” on it?

    Thanks

  2. Paul Sinclair says:

    Mark – not sure about remastering, will try to find out. Unfortunately the track listing simply repeats the old CD tracklisting so nothing new or rare, just the standard versions. It is cool to hear the ‘other’ version of Careless Whisper though via youtube!

  3. Steven says:

    They should’ve found a way to add Blue (original studio version) as a bonus track… And can we learn if the CD is Region 0/All? Region 0/NTSC, or Region 0/PAL. Believe it or not, whether it’s region encoded or Region 0, PAL doesn’t work on U.S. Blu-Ray players or most U.S. DVD players.. Hoping it will work here.. All three of the above format work flawlessly on UK, or Region 2 players..

  4. Paul Sinclair says:

    Hi Steven – agree with you about Blue (armed with love) – annoying. I will ask my contact at Sony tomorrow about remastering and the DVD encoding. cheers P

  5. Steve Marine says:

    This is somewhat bittersweet. I’m excited, but I was really hoping for a true ultimate WHAM! boxed set that included every song & video they ever released. (Which wouldn’t be too hard to do since they had a somewhat minimal output.) Sigh…

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Yes, it’s disappointing. I *think* the demand is there for something more than this but maybe they did some market research and that told them otherwise…

  6. Paul van Tilborg says:

    This is really a missed change.
    The original Vinyl release had longer version for some song and of course Blue.
    I already have the original box, and see no reason to buy this one.

  7. Stephen says:

    This could have been a really great 25th Anniversary edition if they had included all the extra bits you mentioned. To have had a “complete” version of The Final [including all the stuff on the vinyl/cassette versions] would have been awesome. It should all have been remastered and the videos should have been redone with a 5.1 soundtrack. I think its unfortunate that Wham keeps getting such short shrift. Really there should have been anniversary editions of both Fantastic and Make It Big with all the versions and bonus stuff too. That would have been great and made this a little less disappointing.

  8. Micha says:

    Thanks for the great song by song information! Never noticed that much differences in the versions! Now i have to buy this deluxe edition, because it completes the best of dvd by “young guns” and “bad boys”. I always was sad, when i saw the samples at “the edge of heaven” videoclip, but didn’t found them on the dvd.

  9. Patrick says:

    I just recently got this. Bought it for the DVD content as I have the original CD.

    The videos are not remastered (both picture and sound), they use original soundtrack, which means that some of them are in mono. And even if they state on the case that the sound on DVD is both LPCM and DD, it’s only DD. LPCM would not benefit since it’s not remastered.

    They’ve could at least make all videos in stereo, taking the sound straight from CD, where applicable.

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  12. nicky says:

    I have one of the box collection with certificate funny but only one I can’t part with lol

  13. Todd R. says:

    I bought the double – length cassette of THE FINAL in ’88 in France and it included “Club Tropicana”…
    Also the “a cappella” version of “I’m Your Man” was really based around the drum machine pattern (more akin to “Battlestations”) and included a slightly longer vocal. Also for the record, the “Extended Stimulation” 12″ version (TT6:52) of I’m Your Man and the unique MUSIC FROM THE EDGE OF HEAVEN were mastered at slightly different speeds – the US MUSIC FROM version (TT6:04) is slightly faster…
    How many versions of “Wham Rap!” are there? I read that there was a second version released on 12″ for the 2nd release of the song as a single? (not including “Wham Rap’86”).
    “Freedom” with all it’s versions is a nightmare. the “long mix” is just that, but another extended mix exists, and both without the 7″ outro. Another reason MAKE IT BIG needs a deluxe edition.
    There are also two extended versions of “Young Guns”, and then the two different mega-mixes from the FANTASTIC album…

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