Older - George Michael
Rock & Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Sony Music, Virgin, Dreamworks SKG - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services, EMI Operations/CEVA Logi...
5 reviews from the community
Review of "Older - George Michael"
Having returned from a hectic day at the supermarket and buying a sizable shelf for my room, I am relaxed and the pen is well and truly poised; or rather the fingers are, because if I were to write 2000 words we literally Would be here for a very long time.I’ve noticed of late that there seems to be a grow ing trend amongst some Ciao members of writing a series of opinions based around a certain subject or theme. Now not wanting to be outdone myself, I decided to take the lead from the more established members and compile one of my own.
Anyone who knows me quite well will realise that last year probably wasn’t one of the best times of my life – and although I will admit it had its good points, there were many times that I felt really low and kind of let down by various things and people. Now when you’re me, in that position, the best thing to do is to reach for the CD cabinet and gain some good old musical sustenance. The “Tunes for life” series that I am going to write on is basically a selection of albums of mine that helped pick me up, chill me out and get me through the crap.The first in the series is an offering from one George Michael. So, George Michael ….. I can hear the groans and feel the shudders from here as I write :) and perhaps in a way, they might have been justified. The old chap has been in the business since 1982, when he took the pop band Wham! To fame with a handful of cheesy chart number 1’s and ballads with that man ….. erm, what was his name again – oh yeah! Andrew Ridgeley, that’s it :) (sorry Andrew, we always forget you, the man who stood aside while Michael got the fame.)
Fast forward to 1986, and Wham! Had split, leaving George Michael to lead an illustrious, if not controversial solo career. At this point, the groans are justified – as Michael’s boyish looks, attitude and young sounding voice saw him through a number of popular, if not somewhat lacking in taste number 1 singles such as faith and Freedom – although A Different Corner does stand out as an early and cultured single from george. Michael kind of vanished from sight for a good 4 years, embroiled in an intense legal battle with his record label Colombia, and I can only vaguely remember all the news articles and propaganda that surrounded it at the time. When he eventually emerged from the turmoil and burocracy, his 1996 comeback was Older – and boy was it brilliant.It’s impossible to believe how one man, in the space of 4 years, can have matured and blossomed so much as a singer and song writer. Gone are the cheesy rebellious anthems of the late 80#s and early 90’s, and in to take there place? A sort of chilled out, loungy, vaguely jazz influenced sound that gave George Michael one of the fastest selling albums of the 90’s – I seem to remember record stores nationwide selling out within hours and although I didn’t actually buy the album till Christmas 1999, also keeping in mind the fact that it wasn’t one of the “Biggest” selling albums of the time, the price and the hype are well justified.
-- Jesus to a child (Single) –Don’t take my word for it but I believe that this was about the 3rd single from the album. The opener is blissfully peaceful, with some thick strings playing the backing chords whilst the soothing voice of Michael plays out the lead melodies. It’s quite hard to understand what the song is about really – although I am convinced that it isn’t religious, despite what the title might suggest. I think it’s more about the love between two people, perhaps lovers looking to each other as role models and saviours – but this lover has clearly gone: “Loveless and cold, with your last breath, you saved my soul, you smiled at me like Jesus to a child.” Very sad song, with a cool contrast between the cold sounding chords and the warmth of George’s voice.
-- Fast love (Single) –Welcome to the debut single. This single isn’t too bad actually, and I spose that in effect, it is pretty good – but if I’m quite honest, although it may be the most popular song of recent times for Michael, it’s probably the worst song on the album. Very poppy, much more up tempo and playfully stylish as with many of his previously released titles, it discusses modern life, relationships and maybe even makes mild hints about ideas of sexuality: “I do believe that we are practising the same religion” …. Although maybe I’ve got the wrong end of the stick. This song has begun to grind on me somewhat after years of relentless air play on local radio – but that’s hardly George’s fault now is it?
-- Older (Title track) –That’s more like it! Back to the more standard feel of the album, with the slow and moving Older. Minimalist drums, ranging piano backings and the old strings are here again. Quite a reflective song this one, and I suppose that Michael is pondering over his life and his career “Strange, baby, don’t you think I’m looking older? But something good has happened to me.” The sombre mood of the song is added to by the cornet/horn that plays in an ad-lib manner behind the vocals. A fascinating song this one, with lyrics of the highest quality. Take us out with that cornet George – very stylish …
-- Spinning the wheel (Single) –4 tracks into the album and we’ve already had 3 singles … Don’t worry, we’re not going to go down hill in a “Boy band” B side collection slump– far from it. Despite it’s slow tempo fitting in with many of the tracks on the album, this song does possess something about it that although maybe isn’t funky is definitely chunky and sophisticated. Loose women, gambling and late nights – you know, those women that can wonder around till 6 in the morning, giving you minimal love and maximising your credit card bills – I think that’s the motivation behind this one. It even has a feel of Ritz and glamour about it and it’s popularity as a single hasn’t marred it’s quality.
-- It doesn’t really matter --This song verges on the laid back swing and rnB of the mid 90’s, but without the dodgy backing rappers and in your face feel. It’s got quite a summery tone and is a nice one to drive along in your car with the sunroof up to – the melody kind of carries itself along and is based around an alternating 2 chord pattern that surprisingly isn’t all that monotonous. “So I learn to live with shame, tell myself I feel no pain but I do – I thought I had something to say, but it really doesn’t matter at all.” A song full of regrets and a feeling of realising that we all live up to each others ideals and in a way try to conform to them. I like the song but it always comes as a surprise as I tend to forget about it lol
-- Strangest thing –II love this song – and it’s arguably the best track on the album. It’s got a vaguely Asian sounding citar class of instrument, playing a riff that re-occurs throughout the song. It’s very basey and with a strong melody and equally powerful lyrics, it’s a superb impact track. It’s a very lonely and baron song – that reaches out for help and love and always sends a shiver down my spine with its beauty. “Take my hand, lead me to some peaceful land that I cannot find inside my head” … the ideas and vocals are haunting; it’s almost too good to be true.
-- To be forgiven –I always remember this song as it was one of the first tracks that I recorded on my new (now oldish) keyboard, using it’s 16 track sequencer. It’s no surprise that this song talks about rivers and waterfalls, as the tune is meandering and light – with a great deal of acoustic guitar work. Michael sings about the idea of whether life controls us or we control our own fate – being carried along and being satisfied with it all without questioning. I could say again that the mood of the song is quite distant and arguably cold – but for some reason, it doesn’t come across that way, for although the musician’s instinct in me tells me “This is quite cold and heartless” there is a warmth to be found within the vocals and lyrics. There’s a nice rolling acoustic guitar solo part that you kind of get the feeling that you’ve heard before somewhere – so often the case with good music.
--Move on –Now this track definitely is loungy. It starts off in seemingly a restaurant, with plates and glasses clinking, idol conversation and an upper class feel to it. Imagine the swing of the 60’s – transferred to modern times without the brass and horrible backing singers but with pianos and quiet synths. As the lyrics would seem to say, the songs about getting stuck in a rut, and having to move on and putting it all behind you: “Waiting for that change of season – oh the winter’s been so long, looking for the rhyme or reason, you’ve just got to be strong.” It is quite jolly, and has a spring in it’s step as though the rest of the album is going to adopt a different tone. Not sure if the restaurant sounds are pre-recorded or if the track was recorded live somewhere, but I suspect the former.
-- Star people (Single) –The pen-ultimate single and the penultimate track. More in the vein of Fast Love, but far better. It’s quite a cheeky sounding number and far outdoes the awful reworking of the song released a few years later that always gets played. The irony of the song is that although Michael is quite a famous pop star himself, he pokes fun at, and possibly even mocks celebs and stars: “You only wanted them to love you, you may have been living in a dream, and as the demons tower above you, you bite your tongue when you really wanna scream.” Extremely raunchy and a well worthy track.
-- You have been loved (Single) –Apart from a random secret track on the end, this is the last real song. The album finishes in a very similar manner to the way in which it began – very sad and very regretful. It’s got quite a nostalgic feel to it and was one of the few tracks that was not solely written and produced by George Michael, and it does have a slightly different sound – i.e. it is a single but not overly poppy and hyped. “If I was weak, forgive me, but I was terrified. You brushed my eyes with angel’s wings, full of love, the kind that makes devils cry”; George did dedicate the album to two Spanish sounding people in the inlay – I reckon that this song may have been written for them, as they now rest in piece.
So to sum up – there will be those that disagree with me but I feel that I’ve taken you through a classic of the modern times – from yhwman: “Very good, but not enough anger.” Michael has really pushed the boat out with this one, throwing himself and his ideals fully into his work. Having officially “Come out” as a homosexual in 1998, he must have had a lot to think about, and a lot to live with during his career, and I admire him immensely for what this album stands for and what it preaches. If you like powerful and thoughtful lyrics, buy it. If you want to see how big a step one determined man can make in a short time, buy it.PS: Yours truly has just finished doing some research on said “Spanish sounding guys” whom the album is dedicated to:
Antonio Carlos Jobim:
I couldn’t really find much out about this person as the site’s were mostly in Spanish or Portuguese. If anyone knows anything about the chap – drop me a comment – cheers.
Anselmo was Michael’s Brazilian lover whom he met at a festival in 1991. Michael fell deeply in love with the South American and I would imagine that a lot of songs from Older were inspired by his lover and soul mate who died prematurely at the age of 33.
Product Information : Older - George Michael
Manufacturer's product descriptionRock & Pop - StudioRecording - 1 CD(s) - Label: Sony Music, Virgin, Dreamworks SKG - Distributor: Sony Music/Arvato Services, EMI Operations/CEVA Logistics, Universal Music - Released: 24/01/2011, 04/1996, 01/04/1996 - 886978403124, 724384139223
EAN: 886978403124, 724384139223
Listed on Ciao since: 16/12/2010