LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE/ MTV UNPLUGGED George Michael
Released in 1990, Listen Without Prejudice was the first (though certainly not last) time George Michael stuck up his middle finger at the music industry. Compared to 1988’s Faith, the album that made him a superstar, it’s a subdued and introspective affair; the only real moment of dance-floor euphoria is the deathlessly brilliant Freedom!
‘90. Elsewhere, George shows off his songwriting skills with a Beatles-influenced acoustic tune (Heal the Pain), a slow-building lament (Waiting for That Day), and a socially conscious ballad that still holds true today (the album’s other big hit, Praying for Time). Though the queer subtext is less pronounced than it would become on 1996’s Older, essentially George’s coming out record, his gayness is still etched in this album’s DNA: the jazzy Cowboys and Angels was inspired by a twisted love triangle involving him, a woman and another man. This reissue, which accompanies Channel 4’s excellent documentary George Michael: Freedom, pairs the original album with his MTV Unplugged session from the Older campaign. To put it crudely, he sings the shit out of everything from Fastlove to Father Figure. The result is an essential package that confirms what we already knew: George Michael was the greatest British pop star of his generation.