❚ TWO REASONS TO CELEBRATE. Mother-of-two Shirlie Kemp has just exhumed a load of fab clothes from her heyday with Pepsi Demacque as the all-jiving all-singing girls in Wham! She has piled a load of glam photos of her stage clothes on to her otherwise sedately titled blog, No Place Like Home. We see her Melissa Caplan sheath from the 1982 Top of the Pops debuts of herself as Shirlie Holliman and of the clubland group’s single Young Guns in the lucky TV turning point [above] that broke the group after their first single Wham Rap! had initially failed to take off.
Shirlie also shows the cowgirl fronded suede top from American Classics in Endell Street, worn in an earlier incarnation of Young Guns.
Most eye-catching of all are those skimpy, gilded, blingy black leathers by the Brummie design duo Kahn & Bell who had shops in Birmingham and Chelsea. However, after a deep search through Wham’s YouTube videos as the first Western pop group into China, we find no footage of Shirlie’s claim that she wore them onstage there in 1985 — see below for Everything She Wants filmed live in China by British director Lindsay Anderson (which is wrongly dated). By then they had achieved three number-one singles in a row in the US with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper and Everything She Wants, while the Billboard year-ending chart listed George Michael’s Careless Whisper as the US number-one song of 1985.
Above — “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes the group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of their Wham Rap! video by reading The Face cover story, The Making of Club Culture, written by yours truly in the February 1983 issue
❏ The reason why we’ve been catching glimpses of Pepsi & Shirlie around the media is the second reason to celebrate. An explosive 25th anniversary comeback by Wham! themselves takes the shape of a 27-track 2-CD anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album from 1986, with its minimalist Peter Saville cover design. Embracing all four years’-worth of output, it contains six UK No 1 hits, plus both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). A deluxe edition includes a DVD of 13 restored videos.
The Final is such a double-whammy of greatest dancefloor hits that its November 28 release is a calculated pitch for the top spot in the Christmas chart. And with Duran’s magnificent comeback year all but spent musically, Wham!’s cunning plan will represent the last major chart assault by the 80s revival that has warmed our cockles for a full two years.
Wham! went out on a high 25 years ago with an eight-hour grand finale of a concert at Wembley Stadium which coincided with their farewell single The Edge of Heaven hitting No 1 in June, 1986. Pepsi says: “A lot of thought went into stopping when we did — we were at our peak, it was such a high and that’s why we can celebrate Wham! The Final now, because we all still have great memories and we’re all still great friends.”