Sunday, June 14, 2015

Listen Without Prejudice (AM9)

Not popularly known as a serious musician, let alone a talented lyricist (and maybe only as the original hipster), George Michael put all doubts to rest with this magnificent 1990 release, his follow-up to the more upbeat and danceable Faith. What's astonishing is that George was still in his mid-20s when he sat down to write, arrange, produce and perform these insightful, romantic, wistful, and sobering commentaries on the state of modern love and living, the best of which are "Praying for Time," "Freedom," "Waiting for That Day," and - for sheer boldness - "Cowboys and Angels." All four songs reflect flashes of genius and are among the best of Michael's career (not bad for the guy in the "Choose Life" t-shirt). The fact is, few lyricists are better than Michael in turning a phrase. From the opening note of "Praying for Time," you know you're in for something serious, and you get it: "So you dream from behind your door/ Say what's mine and mine is not yours/ I may have too much, but I'll take my chances/cause God stopped keeping score/ I guess somewhere along the way/ He must have let us all out to play/ turned his back/ and all God's children crept out the backdoor."


Yet the pessimism is tempered. Despite the dark imagery, the song is hopeful, and that's refreshing in the maudlin late 80s. Musically, Michael scales new heights here, especially with "Waiting for that Day," which has one of the best hooks you're ever likely to hear while evoking in the listener deep feelings of nostalgia. Listen Without Prejudice remains one of the most unfairly unnoticed albums of the 1990s. Some redemption is in order.



"So maybe we should all be praying for time..." 

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