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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't want your freedom... girl all I want is you
High school, junior year, 1985. "Freedom" was the first single I heard from Wham! and although I didn't get the whole album until years later, I recognized George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as an integral part fusing pop and white soul, and pop with funk and brass rhythms.
The fun, swinging, upbeat funky bass, the brass section in the bridge, and George...
Published on August 9, 2003 by Daniel J. Hamlow

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Go-Go Get This
Wham's 1984 album Make It Big certainly did that for the English duo. The lead single "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" received massive rotation on MTV and the single shot all the way up to number one. At the time they were generally dismissed as light weight bubble gummers, but almost thirty years later the album holds up as solid release. George Michael is an r&b singer...
Published on April 11, 2012 by P Magnum


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I don't want your freedom... girl all I want is you, August 9, 2003
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
High school, junior year, 1985. "Freedom" was the first single I heard from Wham! and although I didn't get the whole album until years later, I recognized George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley as an integral part fusing pop and white soul, and pop with funk and brass rhythms.
The fun, swinging, upbeat funky bass, the brass section in the bridge, and George Michael's soulful vocals that reminded me of a more refined El DeBarge makes "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" a piece of classic 1980's pop. Some may cringe at the lyrics used to rhyme with "go-go" like "yo-yo" or "going solo." I'd give anything to have a girl with these qualities: "You get the gray skies outta my way/You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day/Turn a bright spark into a flame/My beats per minute never been the same."
Yet another single, "Everything She Wants", complete with funky Stevie Wonder-style keyboards is another example of white soul, and has Michael bewailing a marriage where his hard work of giving is not rewarded with equal giving from the woman. He asks in despair, "Somebody tell me/Won't you tell me.../Why I work so hard for you?/All to give you money." Eventually, he believes "All the things we sign/And the things we buy/Ain't gonna keep us together.../Girl, it's just a matter of time." What was it the Beatles said more cogently... "money can't buy you love."
"Heartbeat", with its prominent keyboards sounds like something Bill Steinman might do on a Bonnie Tyler album, say, "Take Me Back" from Faster Than The Speed Of Night crossed with Sheena Easton's "Long Distance Love Affair." A wistful poignant high school love song with a sweet swinging beat.
Things get nighttime mellow with the jazzy keyboards in "Like A Baby." It's this song which is a template to what George Michael would develop in "Kissing A Fool" from Faith. His falsetto really blooms with emotion in certain lines.
Trumpeting brass and keyboards with those three repeated notes herald "Freedom", the song that introduced me to George and Andrew with repeated viewing on MTV. I had my classmate Howard copy this for me. That catchy bridge and chorus will always stay with me: "But you know that I'll forgive you/Just this once...twice...forever/'cause baby, you could drag me to hell and back/Just as long as we're together/And you do...." Chorus says "I don't want your freedom.../I don't want to play around.../I don't want nobody baby/Part time love just brings me down/I don't want your freedom/Girl, all I want right now is you." For sentimental reasons, a classic.
A brass opening and a cantering beat characterizes "Credit Card Baby", who is a materialistic girl using a guy, who's probably got money to spend, as he says, "You can have my credit card baby/But keep your red hot fingers off of my heart lady." It amounts to, "Hey, if you want my money, just say so straight out, but don't try to wheedle it out by saying you love me." And giving another nod to the "money can't buy you love" theme, there's "Between the ocean and the sky/There are things that you can't buy/And if you look you'll see/One of them is me"
A more mid-tempo, relaxing jazz-pop/soul number, "If You Were There" follows. Closest thing to filler on this album.
After "Freedom", my second favourite is the haunting ballad "Careless Whisper", on infidelity and the regret that follows. It's that acoustic guitar during verses, chorus, and sax solo following it that touches me down there: "I'm never gonna dance again/Guilty feet have got no rhythm/Though it's easy to pretend/I know you're not a fool/I should have known better than to cheat a friend/And waste a chance that I'd been given." For other similar melancholy melodies, compare Wham's cover of Was Not Was's "Where Did Your Heart Go" on Music From The Edge Of Heaven and Debbie Gibson's "Foolish Beat."
"Freedom" and the singles from this album, as well as their swansong Music From The Edge Of Heaven became part of my essential 80's music education.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teen-idol pop that still remains tolerable 20 years later!, March 3, 2005
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
Because I can occasionally recall memories as far back as 20 years ago (I am now 24), acts like Wham! are ones that I remember almost like they were yesterday, and with George Michael's recent "retirement" from music, maybe it is inevitable that looking back at his "entire" career is warranted. While George has often been considered a musical personality unto himself, he in fact started as one part of a duo with childhood friend Andrew Ridgeley, even though George remained quite obviously the mind & body behind the project.

Their 1983 debut album FANTASTIC was reasonably pleasurable pop music that did not set the charts on fire as their next album would, perhaps deservingly since FANTASTIC only scratched the surface of what George was able to do. By the time 1984's MAKE IT BIG came along, it was quite apparent that Wham! had at last established themselves, even as it became more increasingly apparent that it was all but a solo vehicle for George himself.

Whereas FANTASTIC failed to even spawn a top 40 hit, MAKE IT BIG literally steamrolled it by creating 3 #1 hits and a top 5, going multi-platinum where FANTASTIC even failed to go gold. The insanely infectious "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" at last introduced George Michael to the big leagues of stardom, topping the charts for 3 weeks, and while it may in fact be a song that makes Backstreet Boys music sound utterly GT (gifted & talented), its unabashedly lightheaded nature (the line about shining brighter than Doris Day certainly applies to the song itself) is oddly inviting. Not to mention the idea of George asking his lover to forgo a night of dancing for some midnight loving at home certainly put it a notch or two above normal, often inoffensive teen-idol fodder.

If there was any doubt about who was really the brains behind Wham!, the second #1 hit being credited to "Wham! featuring George Michael" made it more than crystal clear. "Careless Whisper" once again showed George as much smarter than your average teen idol by creating a truly soulful lost-love ballad miles ahead of simplistic "you broke my heart & now I'm blue" fare. This was clearly a song for adults, and 20 years on from its success, the song could still be a surefire hit if covered today, which it has been several times over. Even Bananarama (Keren Woodward would eventually become Mrs. Andrew Ridgeley) gave it a whirl on their most recent album EXOTICA.

The final #1 came with an uptempo song revisiting the old soul convention of "I work so hard to give you my money, but you still treat me like a dog". "Everything She Wants" was George's take on that standard, and once again demonstrates him taking the high road with regards to his material rather than cozying himself on typical "love-hate" relationships that teen idols rehash over & over again. Most importantly, George asks for an equal amount of giving from the other party rather than one-dimensionally saying "Love me for me, or I'm outta here". This was the 1980s, after all, when even women were engaging in the "spend, spend, spend" mentality of the era.

After 3 #1's, one would think the streak continued, but not quite. The 4th single "Freedom" petered out at #3, but that is certainly no bearing on its overall worth. It remains quite as strong as its more famous counterparts with a punchy horn arrangement that would have had Motown clamoring for it in its 1960s heyday. Even with AIDS becoming a cold hard fact of life in the 1980s, the one-night stand seemed to still hold court in relationships, but George again goes for higher goals by asking his girl to commit to him, and that he no longer needs to play the field breaking hearts all over the world. With Wham! being the first group to ever tour China, the video for "Freedom" featured scenes from that trip, and remains one of my most memorable videos of them.

With half of MAKE IT BIG having been released & hit (a common occurrence for 1980s albums in the wake of THRILLER), that likely meant the other half could not measure up. Well, not really. "Heartbeat" does border dangerously close on your typical lovey-dovey teen-idol pop, but the oh-so-80s synthesizer arrangement makes it a bit more tolerable even if just as a period piece. "Like A Baby", on the other hand, demonstrates the facility with ballads George would develop on 1987's FAITH by laying the foundation for sultrier, more grown-folks fare similar to "Father Figure" & "Kissing A Fool". To show where George's heart was in regards to his musical inspirations, his cover of the Isley Brothers' "If You Were There" shows that maybe George always had a more refined, developed musical taste. Finally, "Credit Card Baby" again plays to the "let's make [and blow] lots of money" attitude of the 1980s by telling a girl she can have her man's finances at her disposal, but do not masquerade that attitude in faux-romantic devotion. This could likely be the prequel to "Everything She Wants" & the result of this "spend first, love later" scenario.

Some would say the 1980s was not really the finest decade for popular music with more one-hit wonders than you shake a platinum record at, and with more undeserving acts having hits instead of the truly talented & timeless ones. By embracing something as often-disposable as teen-idol pop (at least in the beginning), Wham! could have become an ordinary footnote that would have a few people who matured during the decade smiling in rememberance. But even if George Michael did become well-plastered on girls' bedroom walls all over the world, at least he got there by making music that would transcend its origins & still manage to hold up long after its time in the sun was finished. MAKE IT BIG is, in fact, one of the 1980s most finely-crafted & memorable pop albums, demonstrating that we had a real icon in the making with George Michael, especially since it appeared he was the one who really wanted to put in the elbow grease to MAKE IT BIG & stay that way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Edge Of Heaven, June 25, 2006
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
1984 was a very huge year with so many great acts with a lot of great music from Madonna starting out with Lucky Star, Michael Jackson securing the definitive spots with Thriller, and Lionel Richie hot everybody to party all night long. THere was just so much great music all around. That also was shown with George Michael and Andrew Ridgley of Wham!. They held their own as one of the most definitive guilty pleasure acts of the 80's era. Even today, those classic are still just delightful and fun to really listen to. Although Wham! had only made three records, their second one was the most definitive of their great classic songs.

Wham!'s 1984 guilty pleasure record Make It Big is truly a great delight to listen to today, as much as it was two decades ago when it was released. The songs here still sound great and fun to dance like it was 1984 all over again. The collection remains definitive with classics like Freedom, the deep Everything She Wants, the great diddy Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, and the soulful Careless Whisper. The record has been recently reissued and it sounds better than it did over twenty years ago. Although I just wish that there could've been a few more songs than just the actual eight tracks, it still is a great record to play around with.

Arguably, despite Wham!'s position to some as the spark that launched the boy band crazes of the late 80's and 90's, this record is still a great must have for any 80's owner. Make It Big is a great classic for any die hard fan of George Michael and Wham!, and that is a Careless Whisper you should care about.

Album Cover: B+

Songs: B+

Price: A-

Remastering: B+

Overall: B+
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best album ever, must buy Pop CD, November 8, 2000
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
This is the first CD I bought and still my all-time favourite album. It starts with a bang and ends with a big bang. "Wake me up before you go-go" is one hell of a fun song. And "Careless Whisper" is of course one of the most beautiful ballads ever written. "Freedom" and "Everything she wants" were also released as singles (I like the latter one's single edit even more) but even the other four songs are jewels (and would have deserved to be released on their own). "Heartbeat" is probably the best song not released as a single I have ever heard.
This album is a classic and made Wham! the biggest Pop Band of the 80s.
The only shortcoming of this album is its length.
This album is highly recommended. Buy it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT CD!, June 3, 2006
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
I love this CD! It has three really good songs, they are:

"Wake me up before you go-go" - This one is a fun song to listen to.

"Careless Whisper" - This is a classic and I love the lyrics and different tunes.

"Everything She Wants" - This is a GREAT dance song with a really catchy beat.

All of the other songs are either great, or good. They all have original tunes, great rhythms and style. The only songs I dont like as much are "Like A baby" and "Credit Card Baby" is okay.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Careless Whisper" has become an evergreen song, December 16, 2005
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
I own this album and it is one of my favorites.

Two of the songs ("Like a baby" and "Careless Whisper") are slow ballads, the rest are energetic, rythmic disco songs.

All of them are focused on love, not on social justice or religion like some of George Michael's later songs.

Buy this CD, the music is damn good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Idea of good music, December 8, 2006
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
This album featuring George Michael is one of the best albums ever made. It sold over a million copies and had a number of hit singles and videos. This album has always been mainstream since its release. Careless Whisper and Everything She Wants are my favorite tracks on a great album that has no weak tracks.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Michael FOREVER...Best Bit of Bubblegum Pop Ever, December 12, 2009
By 
L (Huntington, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
I loved this when I was in seventh grade and God help me but I still love it. Of course, my musical taste has changed a lot but all of George's work holds a special place in my heart. The songs on this album are the funnest collection of bubblegum pop that I've ever heard, which is kind of funny because just about all of them are about serious anguish wrought by some evil witch. George has an uncanny ability to make sadness & pain sound great. I hope he tours in the US again soon so we don't have to wait another 17 years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm., November 13, 2005
By 
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
In terms of hit singles and album sales, Wham! were the most popular group of 1984, bigger than Culture Club and Duran Duran. Its second album, the fittingly-titled "Make it Big," made George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley pinup boys and MTV regulars. For all intents and purposes, this could very well be a George Michael solo record, as he produced every song on the album. Sure, Ridgeley did co-write one song, but he's still forever known as the ultimate rock and roll sidekick whose contribution to Wham! still remains questionable. By now, most of us are familiar with these Motown-lite pop hits ("Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," "Everything She Wants," "Freedom," and "Careless Whisper") which are as frothy as a tablespoon of Cool Whip. But beyond the singles are some album cuts that aren't half-bad: a respectable cover of the Isleys' "If You Were There," the Elton-esque "Heartbeat," and the ballad "Like a Baby." This CD went Number One and multiplatinum, but the union turned out to be short-lived, as George and Andrew would release one more album before breaking up. "Make it Big" is a record that not only lives up to its name, but it's one of the more fun pop records of the 1980s.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wham's breakthrough in the US, August 16, 2005
This review is from: Make It Big (Audio CD)
Although Wham's debut album was a major hit in the UK, the duo had yet to make their presence known in the consumer-friendly US market. Of course that all changed with the appropriately-titled MAKE IT BIG, which shot to #1 on Billboard's Hot 200 and spawned four Top 5 hits. In truth, the album's format is not completely unlike 1983's Fantastic, only everything has been kicked up a notch.

The rather absurd "tough guy" personae that Michael adopted on portions of FANTASTIC has thankfully been dropped as the duo aims to present themselves as more sophisticated pop performers. On the whole, the melodies and hooks are also considerably sharper than on the last outing. There's nothing on this record that's going to redefine the world for anyone, but that's perfectly fine.

Perhaps best known for the silly-yet-memorable smash "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (#1 US, #1 UK), many cynics might be surprised by how effective the rest of the record is. "Like a Baby" is a soft, non-cloying ballad, while "Heartbeat" and "Freedom" (#3 US, #1 UK) are absolutely unbeatable bubble-gum pop. The hit "Everything She Wants" (#1 US, #2 UK) and "Credit Card Baby" (sort of the male answer to Madonna's "Material Girl") both nicely encapsulate `80's commercialism, and a respectable cover of the Isley Brother's "If You Were There" is thrown in for good measure.

Naturally, though, the brightest highlight is the gorgeous "Careless Whisper" (#1 US, #1 UK), which is a song that was not only a huge hit, but also seems to define the meaning of a true modern pop classic. After dancing non-stop through much of the first half of the eighties, this glorious slow waltz was just what we needed.

If you're looking for something gritty or hard-hitting, then this album is going to be the last thing that you want to pick up. However, it's perfect if you're looking for a good time and are in a retro frame of mind. As far as glossy mainstream pop of the mid-80's is concerned, MAKE IT BIG is tough to beat.
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Make It Big
Make It Big by Wham! (Audio CD - 1990)
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