Not exactly fantastic, but a lot of fun
Robert Johnson | Richmond, KY USA | 08/16/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes good intentions can make a recording play better than it should. There is some amazingly schlocky material on this recording, the debut outing from Wham. However, both George and Andrew sound incredibly inspired, and their enthusiasm easily rubs off on the listener. For their first record, the boys try to pass them off as leather-clad tough guys on "Bad Boys" (#60 US, #2 UK), "Young Guns" (#3 UK), and the "Wham Rap" (#8 UK). Obviously, all of this bad boy posturing isn't believable for second, however, both guys dive into even the most ridiculous material with utter conviction (just listen to Michael tackle the chorus of "Wham Rap"), and that's what makes it all entertaining.
There are at least a couple of tracks that work on a straight level, however, most notably the jazzy pop of "Club Tropicana" (#4 UK) and the underrated ballad "Nothing Looks the Same in the Light," in which Michael's understated sincerity is genuinely poignant. The other tracks ("A Ray of Sunshine," "Come On") sound like rough versions of the irresistible pop that would make up the majority of MAKE IT BIG, which would become the duo's breakthrough album in the US. While the style had not yet been perfected here, once again, George and Andrew throw themselves into it completely, as they also do on the above-average cover of Moore and Giffin's "Love Machine."
Though it hit #1 in the UK, this album didn't make much impact in the US, only peaking at #83 on the Hot 200. While FANTASTIC has it's fair share of generic-eighties pop, and more than a few portions that now sound outrageously dated, it's the apparent delight that George and Andrew had making it that really makes an enduring listen today. And it's also worth picking up for the aforementioned "Nothing Looks the Same in the Light," the most underrated ballad in Michael's cannon."