Album review of “Ladies and Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael” written by Joey Guerra for Houston Chronicle published on November 18, 1998.
The irony and marketing possibilities of a much publicized sex scandal have not been lost on pop star George Michael, whose double-disc Ladies and Gentlemen The Best of George Michael (Epic Records), has hit the record stores.
After undergoing the required flutter of public scrutiny, which included his own coming out during a CNN interview, Michael has turned his April arrest in a Beverly Hills park and lewd conduct conviction into an unexpected shot of career adrenaline and source of candid humor.
Outside, one of two new songs on Ladies and Gentlemen, is an irresistible slice of retro-disco grooves. The song is peppered with sly humor, including police sirens and lyrics about the incident. The accompanying video parodies the park incident and features Michael dressed in a police uniform.
Beyond manipulating the media, however, Ladies and gentlemen displays Michael’s continual diversity and maturity as a pop artist over the past 14 years. Even Careless Whisper, Michael’s first hit as a solo artist, is infused with a rich, soulful quality missing from much of today’s pop music.
The 28 songs are divided into two sections, For the Heart and For the Feet. Every one is worth a listen, and each of Michaels three solo albums is well-represented.
‘Faith’, ‘Father Figure’ and ‘I Want Your Sex’ are glimmering representations of Michaels late 80s sex-symbol status (1987’s Faith album); Praying For Time and Freedom 90 reflect the singers dismay with his own pop-culture saturation (1990s Listen Without Prejudice: Volume 1); and ‘Jesus to a Child’, ‘You Have Been Loved’ and ‘Spinning the Wheel’ are overlooked gems from Michaels mature and introspective 1996 album, Older. ‘
Ladies and Gentlemen also points up many of Michael’s artistic achievements beyond the bounds of pop music. He was the first white male vocalist to duet with soul-queen Aretha Franklin ‘(I Knew You Were Waiting For Me’); and Faith became the first album by a white solo artist to top the R&B albums chart. That soulful intensity is evident on a number of rare gems and album cuts that pop up on the collection. ‘A Moment With You’, the second new track, is a jazzy, laid-back plea for love; ‘Heal the Pain’ soars on its joyful chorus and delivery; and Michael’s rendition of Bonnie Raitts ‘I Cant Make You Love Me’ is a pared-down moment of somber beauty that was previously only available as a hard-to-find import.
Michael stirs things up a bit on Desafinado, a Brazilian duet with Astrud Gilberto originally featured on the Red Hot Rio compilation.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- George Michael Interview on Q Magazine (December 1998)
- List of Duets and Backup Vocals
- George Michael Interview on Parkinson Show (1998)