It is a fact that is beyond all debate that ‘Fastlove’ is one of the greatest songs ever made.
But it’s easy to forget that when George Michael returned with Older, its parent album, in 1996, no one had particularly high expectations.
Of course, George had dominated the ‘80s, first with Wham! and then with his first two solo albums Faith and Listen Without Prejudice Vol.I (the latter coming in 1990), before stealing the show at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in 1992. But after that, with his legal battle with Sony continuing, he had been absent from the public eye. People had moved on, sounds had changed, who cared about George any more?
Then came ‘Jesus to a Child’ which was, of course, brilliant. But it was desperately sad and reflective. Perhaps fun George had gone for good.
Oh how wrong we were, as ‘Fastlove’ slinked into our lives on 22 April 1996.
Did you know that it’s actually called ‘Fastlove Part I’? We did not. However, we didn’t think it mattered – after all, there’d never been a Volume II of Listen Without Prejudice had there?
But casually looking at the song’s Wikipedia page (something we do on a regular basis) revealed a sensational piece of news hidden away at the end in the format tracklistings: there is a Part two to ‘Fastlove’.
And it’s nine and a half minutes long. Clearly, we had to hear this immediately.
Search on Spotify and… nothing. Seach on iTunes and… nothing. But thanks be to the royalty-free, ‘I DO NOT OWN THIS. ALL COPYRIGHT LIES WITH THE ARTIST BUT I’M STILL GOING TO POST IT AND PICK UP THOSE SWEET SWEET VIEWS ANYWAY’ wild west of YouTube where a couple of absolute heroes have uploaded it. Praise them for they have provided a service truly blessed by God himself.
And here it is. Kindly clear the next nine minutes and 28 seconds from your diary, press play below, and read on.
21 years on and it still sounds amazing. If anything, the production sounds better and more luxurious than virtually all modern pop songs. There’s no brick wall limiting loudness wars going on here, just the smooth sounds of some rubbery bass, sexy sax, G-funk-style synth lines and George’s silky vocals. It’s like a warm bath. With a few candles and a glass of good quality wine. And a large loofah.
Now, we need to make clear at this juncture that the ‘Part II’ element is quite confusing. This isn’t another song to stick on the end of ‘Part I’ to make a ‘suite’, this is basically an extended version of the original with a pretty bonkers ending which we’ll get to.
First things first, even if this song was the first section it would be one of the best songs ever, but the change to the Patrice Rushen ‘Forget Me Nots’ section (which, fact fans, beat Will Smith to the punch by a year) really lifts it up to another level – and on this extended version, that bit is really given chance to breathe. There’s also some hidden treats that the full version allows us to bask in.
- Naturally, there’s a cool extended intro bit with some sassy vocoder before the bass slinks into view
- The instrumental at the end of the first section gets a nice few extra loops
- And then the star of the ‘Part II’ show: frankly, the bit at 4:45 where George sings ‘everybody needs a little Fastlove baby’ is worth the admission fee alone. How this didn’t make it into the original we will never know
- 5:45 ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I got me some’ – glorious
- 5:58 MORE VOCODER PLEASE VICAR
- 6:17 There’s gang chanting! What is going on here?
- 6:44 It’s all going off as George takes us into a snippet of an updated version of ‘I’m Your Man’ (the ‘normal’ version of which was, confusingly, also the main B-side to the single)
- 7:58 Hang on, it’s all broken down again and the ‘ooh ooh baby baby’ riffs are back
- 8:16 The ‘gotta get up to get down’ riffs are back
- There’s sparkly arpeggiator runs all over the shop
- And out we go with some lovely pads and a few bubbly synths
Good grief George, why did you ever agree to a ‘normal’ version of this, let alone a radio edit? It’s absolute bloody sacrilege. You wouldn’t make a radio edit of the Mona Lisa would you. Obviously it’s a painting so we don’t know how that would work in practice but you get our point.
Oh, there’s also a summer mix which we’d never heard before but it hasn’t got the fruity bass of the original so it’s not as good.
Let ‘Fastlove Part II (Fully Extended Mix)’ be your summer jam this year and forever more. Never again be satisfied with the mere five minutes and 24 seconds of the original. Don’t cheapen yourselves. You’re better than that. You deserve ‘Part II’ and you deserve to be fully extended.
Let that be our lesson to you today.