George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 makes UK chart history

MusicWeek.com| By James Hanley

The reissue of the late George Michael’s 1990 Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 album has soared to the top of the UK albums chart.
The classic LP moved 56,088 units to achieve the biggest Week 1 sale for a reissue in UK chart history. The original release also went straight to No.1 in the UK album charts in September 1990 before going on to sell more than eight million copies worldwide.
Michael personally oversaw the remastering of the album which includes his MTV Unplugged set from 1996 and previously unreleased track Fantasy, featuring Nile Rodgers. The album was released following the airing on Channel 4 of the acclaimed film George Michael: Freedom earlier this month.
David Austin, Michael’s manager, long-term collaborator and close friend since childhood, said: “For three years George, myself and his loyal team have worked relentlessly alongside our amazing team at Sony and together we have carefully crafted our beautiful LWP/MTV Unplugged campaign and film Freedom.
“It’s no great secret that George was a perfectionist and it shows, he was over everything from its inception to its finish and it’s a blessing and rare gift to be guided by such genius. That, along with exceptional teamwork and the overwhelming love for George from the public has made everything come together. We are all so incredibly proud to have the No.1 album in the UK.”
Michael was one of the most successful UK artists of all time. Alongside Andrew Ridgeley in Wham! and then as a solo artist, he had record sales of more than 115m.

 

George Michael’s new single Fantasy – a rework full of sex, funk and fabulousness

By Ben Beaumont-Thomas (Music editor of the Guardian)

The first new music since the artist died last year turns out not to be completely new after all – but Nile Rodgers gives pep and freshness to 1990 B-side Fantasy

The last time George Michael launched a big new single, it was at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London, where he chose – to the chagrin of many – to perform the deeply middling White Light rather than any number of his solo or Wham!-era classics.
There’s rather more poignancy today as another new single arrives – the first new music since he died aged 53 at home on Christmas Day last year, after suffering from a heart condition, dilated cardiomyopathy. There was a tremendous outpouring of public grief and fondness, as people remembered Michael’s kindness (he would frequently make philanthropic gestures large and small, planned and impulsive) and his rockstar foibles – such as the time he drove into a Hampstead branch of Snappy Snaps. Adele and Chris Martin led the musical tributes, at the Grammy and Brit awards respectively. While recent years hadn’t yielded classic material, it was a major wrench – the loss of an artist with a rare emotional clarity who took queerness into the mainstream.
Hopes that it would be a brand new classic are slightly dashed – it’s a rework of Fantasy, a 1990 B-side included on Freedom! ’90 in the US and Waiting for That Day in the UK, later featured on a 2016 reissue of Listen Without Prejudice. But it’s now been given a substantial refresh. Where the original is driven by a 90s breakbeat and some even more 90s horns, this new version has been pioneered by Nile Rodgers, who George apparently commissioned before he died. “I hope we make the fans proud of the amount of love we put into it,” Rodgers has said, tweeting to those who expressed mixed feelings about the posthumous nature of the work, “You SHOULD have mixed feelings. No one’s heart was dragged through emotional ambiguity more than mine. Tears, uncertainty, happiness & love”.

A classic Rodgers choppy guitar line sits under a freshly minted pop-house rhythm, as Michael’s voice is pleasantly – and quite radically – mangled, before segueing into the original’s top line. Its status as a B-side rather undersells it – Michael’s secret weapon is a half-sung style of rapping that gets a good airing here, and the “if you ain’t got time for me, I’ll find another fantasy” pay-off is suitably fabulous. The sigh that closes the chorus remains a glorious bit of petulance.
Perhaps there isn’t a Prince-style vault waiting to be raided, and there needn’t be, given the strength of his existing work. Fantasy meanwhile is a reminder that George Michael could invest a dancefloor with sex and wit like few other pop stars.

Source: The Guardian