Information About the Album
Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 is the second solo studio album by George Michael, released on 3 September 1990. It was intended as a two-volume album, with the dance-oriented Vol. 2 originally scheduled to follow in June 1991.
While the album was a success in the United Kingdom, the disappointing U.S. sales led to George’s legal battles against Sony Music, in which he accused the corporation of not fully supporting him as an artist. George sued Sony Music trying to end his contract, but he lost.
Critics saw the album as his attempt to be taken as a serious artist. Rolling Stone said in its review
For the most part the album succeeds in its effort to establish Michael’s seriousness and deliver him from caricature.
George Michael has begun to think that he should provide something to his fans beyond fun and games. Fun and games at Michael’s level needn’t be underrated — as he sings on “Freedom 90,” such stratagems happened to yield a captivating sound for millions of people who like to listen to the radio. On this anxiously titled album, though, he’s operating from the proposition that a damn good sound is only the starting point for how much pop music can achieve. If Listen Without Prejudice starts a trend among Michael’s pop generation to move beyond image to integrity, it could make “rock and roll TV” sound more consistently and convincingly like music.
Australian journalist James Rose described the album as “about escaping from the reality Michael has created, or that has been created for him by others; a tricky act when you’re one of the world’s biggest celebrities and there are numerous fortunes riding on your career and that very reality.” He added:
Listen Without Prejudice is political, self-exploring, self-criticising, confused and intelligent.
It’s also generous. It seems Michael wants to let us know that fame and fortune is not all it’s cracked up to be and that those who crave would be advised to be careful what they ask for. Michael was suffocating in that bubble. It’s an honest appraisal of the high life from way up there – beyond the reach of us mere mortals – from where Michael seems to question the need for fame at all, especially the kind of mega-celebrity he was at the time, and ponders its value in a world of need and sadness.
However, some critics did not agree with the direction of the album. AllMusic.com said:
George Michael’s follow-up to the massive success of Faith found him turning inward, trying to gain critical acclaim as well as sales. Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 is not an entirely successful effort; Michael has cut back on the effortless hooks and melodies that crammed not only Faith but also his singles with Wham!, and his socially conscious lyrics tend to be heavy-handed. But the highlights — the light, Beatlesque harmonies of “Heal the Pain,” the plodding number one “Praying for Time,” and also “Waiting for That Day” as well as the Top Ten “Freedom” — make a case for his talents as a pop craftsman.
Slant Magazine said the album “effectively set his professional downfall into motion:”
George Michael’s multi-platinum solo debut Faith put the former Wham! pin-up in the same league as ‘80s-pop renaissance men like Michael Jackson and Prince. He wrote, performed, and produced almost all of his own material, and his follow-up, the starkly personal Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, was no exception. In fact, the album simultaneously elevated Michael to a level above his contemporaries and effectively set his professional downfall into motion.
George, however, brushed the criticism aside saying that he had no intention of doing an album similar to Faith.
I think it’s against the tide in many ways. But I didn’t feel I had any choice. I’ve never made an album that sounded like the one before. If I’d made ‘Faith 2,’ it would have been unsatisfying for me.
Purchase the 2017 version:
- Number of weeks in chart: 57 weeks
- Peak Position: #1 (for 1 week)
- Number of weeks in chart: 8 weeks
- Peak Position: #141
“Praying for Time”
“They Won’t Go When I Go”
“Something to Save”
“Cowboys and Angels”
“Waiting for That Day”
“Heal the Pain”
- George Michael: The Reluctant Pop Star (Calendar Magazine, Sept 1990)
- ‘George Michael, Seriously’ from Rolling Stone Magazine (1988)
- ‘Too Funky:’ Story of A George Michael Charity Record
- George Michael Interview on Q Magazine (December 1998)
- George Michael: The Long Goodbye (US Weekly, 1991)