Tuesday, 2 June 2009

1985 Wham!: I'm Your Man

At this point in time, Wham! were at the pinnacle of their popularity. Fresh from conquering China, 'I'm Your Man' was highly anticipated as their first new material in almost a year. Despite this gap between releases though, 'I'm Your Man' is struck from the same mould that formed 'Freedom' to the extent that it's almost a re-write.

Yet again, 'I'm Your Man' is driven by an upbeat R&B thump with blasts of good time saxophone to add flavour, but whereas 'Freedom' flowed naturally through it's verses from A to B, 'I'm Your Man' is fuelled by a bonhomie that by virtue of its sheer relentlessness sounds forced and contrived.

It builds quickly enough into the tension releasing 'Baby, I'm your man' chorus refrain, but then a needless key change into 'If you're gonna do it, do it right' serves to pull on the handbrake of the song's natural progression, ultimately making it an awkward and unsatisfying listen. Which is apt, because 'I'm Your Man' literally has nothing to say for itself beyond George's bragging about how good he is in bed.

Further, the whole meat of the song is contained in its first minute and the remaining three are wave upon wave of repetition of the above that bludgeon you into thinking you're listening to some forgotten Stax B side in attempt to paper over the fact that 'I'm Your Man' is really quite an uninspired track that bores where it tries to invigorate, rather like a parent trying to kick-start a birthday party by some compulsory game of pass the parcel when all the sulking kids want to do is eat jelly till they're sick.

Unfortunately, Michael was fresh out of jelly in 1985. With more than one eye on his imminent solo career (the accompanying video showing Michael with his shirt open to the waist and designer stubble is telling), 'I'm Your Man' is writing by numbers that gives the overwhelming impression Michael was bored with the band and the restrictions it brought and to that end, 'I'm Your Man' sounds written to order for an uncritical audience. On that level at least it succeeds, but its sheer ordinariness means it falls far short of the songs he'd already written and those he would come to write.

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