Wham! -- the band that launched a fresh-faced teenage George Michael on the world and caused a million teenage girls to go weak at the knees. Wham!'s blend of easy disco tunes and semi bad-boy image, combined with Michael's good looks (nobody ever fancied poor Andrew Ridgeley) ensured them instant chart success, with six tracks from their debut album reaching the British top ten.

No one who was around at the time will ever forget the so bad it's good "Wham Rap" (If you're a pub man, a club man, maybe a jet black guy with a hip hi-fi), or the semi-Caribbean party sounds of Club Tropicana.

For the first half of the 80s Wham! epitomised "pure" pop music, releasing four albums (although the fourth was pretty much a "best of" compilation effort). Ridgeley and Michael split in 1987, Ridgeley toying with motor racing for a while before descending into forgotten obscurity, whereas George Michael changed his image and style of music to adult white soul and found a whole new lucrative market to tap into.

For sheer youthful exuberance and joyfulness there is little to beat any of the tunes from Fantastic, their first album.

obAnecdote: How you know you're getting older. I was sitting in the pub a couple of years ago, chatting to a young friend, when a Robbie Williams track came on the jukebox. As this was shortly after Take That had split up, I commented that he'd been very astute in changing his musical style, much as George Michael did when he left Wham! "When he left who?" she asked me. "Wham! ... Teeny-bopper supergroup of the early 80s ... remember?". Then came the cutting reply: "I was born in the early 80s". *sigh* C'est la vie.

Wham! Albums

A diptych painting by pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Also known as "Whaam!"

The left-hand painting is a comic-book style image of an American jet. Over the pilot's head is a bubble containing the words "I pressed the control... and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky."

The right hand painting shows another aircraft exploding in a ball of flame and the word WHAAM! in huge, gaudy, yellow letters.

It's wonderful.

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