Number Ones: #122


  • GEORGE MICHAEL Father Figure (Epic)
  • Week Ending 30th January 1988
  • 2 Weeks At #1

The third solo chart-topper for George Michael on my Top 40, from just five releases, was curiously his first (officially approved) UK single to fall short of the Top 10 since Wham! broke through in late 1982.

Generally regarded as one of Faith‘s standout tracks as soon as the album landed, Father Figure had no trouble emulating the #1 peak of Faith‘s title track on the Billboard Hot 100, but in Britain it came as something of shock when a climb from #35 to #11 (the same week as Sign Your Name moved 29-8) was followed by an immediate downturn. What the…?!

It’s fair to say that while Father Figure is a pretty sublime piece of work – all breathless, whispered vocals and a delicate, recurring melodic motif – it wasn’t really suited to the emerging chart trends of late 1987 and early 1988. Plastic pop was king, and subtlety was in short supply. Faith was an uneven, messy, and almost ugly album at times (I still cannot warm to the title song, which was fortunate to even make #9 on my chart), but Father Figure and Hand To Mouth felt like its key moments for me, and were the main reasons I decided to buy the CD a couple of weeks after release in November 1987 despite my misgivings about the other tracks I’d heard on the radio.

Although far from rendering his UK career down the dumper – he’d immediately bounce back with the next single from Faith going to #8 – it did mark a sea-change in the way George Michael was viewed. No longer simply a one-man hit machine, churning out magnificent 4-minute pop thrills. No longer guaranteed a high chart entry simply because of who he was.

His profile remained high, in some ways higher than ever thanks to the World Tour through 1988 and his remarkable Stateside success, but in Britain the focus shifted towards George Michael as an albums artist. There wouldn’t be another UK #1 (with an original, new studio recording) for almost a decade, but on my charts it was a different corner….I mean, story.


  1. I have always loved “Father Figure”, the best song of his first solo album “Faith”. I don’t know if you agree with me but “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1” was a much better album than “Faith”. Maybe his best album.

    P.S. : I wonder if there ever will be a “Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 2”. There have been rumours that such an album exists.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do prefer LWP Vol.1 – both at the time, and still even now. Faith is an album that could be made better (I created a “Director’s Cut”, which I tend to play rather than the proper version), but LWP is hard to fault. There’s a lengthy piece on the album here on AFDPJ, which I posted earlier in the year.

      The mythical Trojan Souls and LWP2 projects are also high on my “wish they existed” list. Apparently neither were completed, but over half of LWP2 was released through other channels (Red Hot & Dance, B-sides etc).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know that half of LWP2 was released through other channels (Red Hot & Dance, B-sides etc). Is Red Hot & Dance a compilation CD ? I couldn’t find it on discogs …

    Liked by 1 person


      Yes, it was the second compilation in the “Red Hot +….” series, to raise money/awareness for AIDS research and relief. The first Red Hot….Red Hot + 1990, was a fantastic collection of brand-new recordings of Cole Porter songs by everyone from U2 to Erasure, Neneh Cherry, Annie Lennox, Thompson Twins and about 15 others. Red Hot & Dance featured a trio of tracks earmarked for LWP2….Toofunky, Happy and Do You Really Want To Know.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your reply. I guess that you have a big CD collection. Do you have a database, where you can see on which compilation CD’s you can find tracks from George Michael ? Or do you know that by heart ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It depends – Red Hot + Dance sticks in the memory because that was the first (and at the time only) place to get those tracks earmarked for LWP2. Obviously the deluxe boxset of LWP now includes all of those on its 3rd disc. I also tend to remember useless information quite a lot…if an album has a mix which is different or unique, or if a Best Of omits something, but only back in the early days of my music obsession…in the late 80s and up to around the mid-90s. I’ve also anthologised George’s work a couple of times over the years (though not since about 2016), and am planning to do so again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Definitely, now that it’s priced around £20-25. I think originally it was more like £30-35…my copy was 34.99 on the week of release. The inclusion of Older-era material still irks me a bit, as well as the lack of rarities beyond the half-dozen songs intended for LWP2, but it’s a beautiful set.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for your quick reply. And for your answer. I think that I am going to buy this boxset. Let’s hope that someday there will be an boxset for “Older” as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re welcome! The inclusion of so much Older/MTV Unplugged material in the LWP set did lead to some doubt over whether there would be an Older deluxe set further down the line. Or perhaps there’s just so much from 1996-98 that they could include, they put some of it in the LWP box. Guess we’ll find out eventually.

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