- WHAM! The Edge Of Heaven E.P. (Epic)
- Week Ending 26th July 1986
- 3 Weeks At #1
For the first time in a long while, my tastes were aligned with the UK Top 40 in terms of chart toppers; Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach was followed by Wham!’s final release, a 4-song Extended Play with a trio of new recordings and a remix/revamp of their introductory single Wham! Rap.
Having been overshadowed on my charts in 1984 by the impact of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Thompson Twins and Howard Jones, I didn’t begin to fully appreciate Wham! until the Last Christmas/Everything She Wants double-header that became their first #1 on my Top 40 over the New Year of 1985. I’m Your Man, a non-album single, also cruised to the top at the end of that year, as detailed previously.
The release of a second solo George Michael single, A Different Corner, in the spring of 1986 didn’t automatically hint at the imminent demise of Wham!, as the two separate careers had been established right from Careless Whisper in the summer of 1984. Yet within a couple of months of A Different Corner came the announcement; a farewell concert at Wembley Stadium and a single to coincide.
We actually got a sort-of Greatest Hits too, entitled The Final, which – on double vinyl and cassette at least – collected up pretty much everything Wham! issued as a single, AA-side or EP track (the CD format was restricted to a single disc). All of the Edge Of Heaven material was included (bar Wham! Rap ’86); the proto-Faith bitchfunk of Battlestations (the precursor, surely, to Hard Day), the stylish Was (Not Was) cover Where Did Your Heart Go, and the title song – a rather leaden-footed pop/rock anthem that always sounds as if it’s trying a bit too hard to be a big hit single.
Truth be told, without the added appeal of Battlestations and especially Where Did Your Heart Go, it wouldn’t have got near the #1 spot on my chart. The former hinted at the future, the latter upgraded the summer-romance melancholy of Careless Whisper with extra maturity.
So in the space of the one EP you had the many musical faces of George Michael in all their fragmented glory; the contradictions which would continue to haunt his work already in place. Maybe it was the strain of trying to fit his widening ambitions into the Wham! template, and the struggle to keep the material in a format and style which Wham! had become known for, which made up his mind to retire the band at their commercial peak. Perhaps it was simply a premeditated decision that he and Andrew Ridgeley were always going to abide by, once they’d effectively conquered the pop world by 1986.
Despite the regular stream of chart hits for George Michael, with and without Wham!, the albums weren’t appearing at a prolific rate and by The Final, the total stood at only two (Fantastic! and Make It Big), each with only 8 or so songs apiece of which at least half were singles in their own right.
A third album could have potentially repeated the same trick, with the three new songs on The Edge Of Heaven EP joined by I’m Your Man, Blue (Armed With Love), A Different Corner and the likes of Look At Your Hands (eventually recorded solo and released on Faith, but written earlier and sharing the same sound as The Edge Of Heaven) but that’s purely speculation and might have been repeating a formula just one time too many.
As it was, The Final would be the final word, and Wham! ended with a UK #1 hit and top spot on my personal Top 40 as well.