Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The #50 Album of All-Time in the Rock Era--"Listen Without Prejudice" by George Michael

One by one, we're featuring The Top 100 Albums of All-Time in the Rock Era*.  They get better as we go.

We've already featured the album Make It Big by Wham.  George Michael also has an album in the countdown as a solo performer.  Listen Without Prejudice was his follow-up to the blockbuster Faith.  Obviously, the expectations were high.  People who were expecting more infectious popular songs were caught off guard, as this album featured deeper lyrics and a more sombre tone.

The album reached #2, was in the Top 10 for 12 weeks and on the chart for 42 weeks.  To date, it has sold 2 million copies. The album did considerably better around the world (Top 10 in 14 countries) so no doubt when Inside the Rock Era presents The Top 100 Albums in the World, it will fare much better than this.  Listen Without Prejudice generated tremendous airplay on radio stations with the number of quality tracks available.  "Praying for Time" quickly went to #1 and "Freedom" was a Top 10 song as well.  Note that it is a different song than the "Freedom" from Wham.  "Waiting for That Day" and "Mother's Pride" were also released as singles; the latter received considerable airplay during the Gulf War.  A stark, poignant song, it is one that every person should listen to before deciding if they want to send their youth off to war--it is a great, great song.

But as we have often seen in these albums, it isn't the singles that make them a Top 100 Album*.  While the singles mentioned above attracted attention to the album, it was the quality of the songs that make this one of the albums in this special feature this summer.  There's far more to this album than those hit songs.  The Track Rating* of 9.40 is one of the highest of the Top 100.  "Something To Save" and "Cowboys and Angels" (featuring full orchestration) are not Top 40 songs; they weren't meant to be, but they do show Michael's development as a songwriter and as an artist.  "They Won't Go When I Go", his remake of the Stevie Wonder song, shows his great vocal range.  You may like different tracks, but I have covered what I believe to be the highlights.  It is an album that can be played through without skipping a song.

The album was named Best British Album at the 1991 Brit Awards.

Listen Without Prejudice:
(All songs by George Michael unless otherwise noted.)

1.    "Praying for Time" --4:41
2.    "Freedom!  '90" --6:30
3.    "They Won't Go When I Go" (Stevie Wonder, Yvonne Wright) --5:06
4.    "Something to Save" --3:18
5.    "Cowboys and Angels" --7:15
6.    "Waiting for That Day" (Mick Jagger, George Michael, Keith Richards) --4:40
7.    "Mother's Pride" --3:59
8.    "Heal the Pain" --4:41
9.    "Soul Free" --5:29
10.  "Waiting" (reprise) --2:25

Michael played drums, percussion, bass guitar, rhythm and acoustic guitar, keyboards, set up the horn arrangements with Chris Cameron and produced Listen Without Prejudice.  Danny Cummings and Ian Thomas contributed drums and percussion, Deon Estus played bass, Phil Palmer was on guitars, Cameron played piano and keyboards, Anthony Patler was on keyboards and Andy Hamilton played sax.

Michael worked on the project from December of 1988 to July of 1990.  Chris Porter mixed and engineered the album.  The album cover is a cropped section of a 1940 photograph called "Crowd at Coney Island" by Weegee.  The album was released September 3, 1990 on Columbia Records.

George Michael has the #50 Album--Listen Without Prejudice.

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