Wham!’s first single for a year followed the “Wake Me Up”/”Freedom” model – a Motown template airbrushed for the mid-80s, brisk and bright and shiny-toothed. But something’s changed – George Michael’s no longer the lens of the song, he’s now its focus. “I’m Your Man” does what the title promises, introducing us to someone confident in his stardom and sure of his ability to hold your attention without too much assistance from the music.
It’s an unfussy record that feels far more like a solo outing than “Careless Whisper” did – the arrangement bobs along on a keyboard line that’s tucked discreetly low in the mix, and the slight echo on George’s voice makes it sound like he has the studio almost to himself to go in for a spot of old-fashioned soulboy begging. On “Whisper” Michael shared hookspace with the sax, but “I’m Your Man”‘s horn solo is perfunctory and shoved quickly offstage to make room for George’s most urgent straight-to-camera plea – “BABY your friends do not need to know!”. Most of this record is pleasant but ordinary, but these moments. when he breaks out of the song’s flimsy restraint and hustles us direct – “I’ll be your first I’ll be your last I’ll be the only one YOU ask” – are where “I’m Your Man” convinces. Even if what it convinces us of is more ambition than devotion.