George Michael’s “Listen Without Prejudice” Remastered Plus New Showtime Documentary This Weekend!

George Michael: Freedom

From teen idol to superstar. George Michael pushed the boundaries of pop. He was blessed with good looks, an enduring voice, a talent for songwriting, sex appeal, and a concert stage presence that audiences loved. His music came straight from his soul.

George Michael Wham!Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016), known professionally as George Michael, was an English singer, songwriter, record producer, and philanthropist who rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham!

On Saturday, October 21 on Showtime (9pm ET/P), Michael is giving fans a glimpse into his life nearly 10 months after his death. A new documentary, called “George Michael: Freedom,” is narrated, edited, and co-directed by Michael, who died Christmas Day 2016 at the age of 53.

The documentary gives a rare inside look at personal life of George Michael. His directing partner and longtime friend, David Austin, said the Michael known by his fans was not the whole person. “They’re going to see George in his own words, never seen before, never talked about before.” Austin, who produced and directed the documentary, says, “You’ll see a side of George that nobody’s ever seen before. Behind the scenes,” Austin added. “Michael was a good sport who could always laugh at himself. “That’s what people loved,” He doesn’t think Michael would have stepped back into the spotlight to promote the documentary. “No chance.”

Check Out George Michael’s Newest Video “Fantasy” Featuring Nile Rodgers

In conjunction with the video, Sony will re-release Michael’s Iconic album, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1” on October 20th.  It was produced, arranged and written almost entirely by Michael. A remastered version of George’s 1996 MTV Unplugged performance will also be available as an album for the very first time as part of the Deluxe box set, 2CD and digital editions.

It’s a concert took place at the Three Mills Island Studios in East London on Friday 11 October, 1996 and featured George playing ten of his finest songs from the Wham!, “Faith,” Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1” (Freedom ’90).  “Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1” will also be reissued on vinyl.

“Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, released in September 1990, was Michael’s second solo album. Arranged, produced and almost completely written by George himself, it eloquently confirmed him as a pioneering, agenda-setting artist.

Unwilling to be a 24-hour “pop slave” (his words) constantly in the media spotlight, Michael wanted to create a new reputation as a serious-minded artist, and be taken more seriously as a songwriter.  He wanted to follow his artistic instincts regarding how his work should be presented, so he refused to do any promotion for the album, including no music videos for the singles released.

The first single, “Praying for Time”, with lyrics concerning social ills and injustice, was released in August 1990. The song was an instant success, reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 in the UK. A video was released shortly thereafter, consisting of the lyrics on a dark background. Michael did not appear in this video or in any subsequent videos for the album.

George Michael Faith“Freedom ’90” was the second of only two of its singles to be supported by a music video. The song alludes to his struggles with his artistic identity, and hinted of his efforts to end his recording contract with Sony Music. As if to prove the song’s sentiment, Michael refused to appear in his most iconic “Freedom! ’90” video. Instead, he recruited supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Cindy Crawford to appear in the video and lip sync in place of him. This resulted in a difference in opinion between Michael and Sony.

“Mother’s Pride” gained significant radio play in the US during the first Persian Gulf War during 1991, often with radio stations mixing in callers’ tributes to soldiers with the music. It reached No. 46 on Billboard Hot 100 with only airplay. In the end, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” sold approximately eight million copies and won the award for Best British album at the 1991 Brit Awards,

In the meantime, the expected follow-up album, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 2,” was scrapped due to Michael’s lawsuit with Sony. Michael complained that Sony had not completely supported the release of his second album, resulting in its poor performance in the US as compared to “Faith.”

Michael wanted his artistic freedom and sued Sony. Sony responded that Michael’s refusal to appear in promotional videos had caused the bad response.  He lost the lawsuit, but won his freedom. Eventually Michaels and Sony reconciled.

“Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” remains a remarkable, timeless work, from the beautifully judged protest songs “Praying For Time” and “Mother’s Pride,” to the intimate “Cowboys & Angels,” via the autobiographical “Freedom! ‘90.”

Up to the time of his death, Michael sold more than 115 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. His breakthrough duo Wham! sold 28 million records between 1982 and 1986, and his debut solo album “Faith” sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

Michael achieved seven number one singles in the UK and eight number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, including “Careless Whisper” and “Praying for Time”.

He ranks among the best-selling British acts, and in 2008 and 40th on Billboard’s list of the Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time. Michael won various music awards throughout his 30-year career, including three Brit Awards—he won Best British Male twice, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Ivor Novello Awards, three American Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards from eight nominations.

When George Michael passed, his fans insisted, “that there was an empty place in their hearts.” Sometimes in his concerts he would sing his favorites. One of them was Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on me.” As the documentary suggests, the sun will never go down on Michael.

More About the Documentary “Freedom”

George Michael (courtesy of Sony Legacy)

George Michael (courtesy of Sony Legacy)

“George Michael: Freedom” features Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, Elton John, Mark Ronson, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Liam Gallagher, James Corden, Ricky Gervais, Kate Moss, the Freedom! ’90 video supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista) and more.

A few words about George Michael’s philanthropy.

Although his personal life became tabloid fodder, not everything George Michael did made headlines.  Since his death, charities and fans have revealed that the iconic singer was also a dedicated philanthropist — making large donations, and working hard to keep them out of the public eye.

Michael took the time to show NHS nurses how much he appreciated their help after their care for his mother Lesley, who died of cancer in 1997. He performed a free concert for them. One nurse observed, “A nervous George Michael took to the stage with a bad cold and told us he’d played in front of crowds all over the world but was anxious because he’d never performed in front of so many heroes before.”

He regularly helped out at a homeless shelter without calling attention to himself.  George Michael worked anonymously, and he asked the other workers not to tell anyone about it. That’s who he was.

The founder of Childline, a charity that enables children to anonymously phone counsellors for help, revealed that George Michael had donated millions over the years.

Other accounts describe Michael giving thousands of dollars to strangers. He tipped a barmaid 5,000 pounds, because she was a student nurse in debt. He once gave a stranger in a cafe 25,000 pounds as she was crying over debt. He told the waitress to give her the check after he left. A contestant on “Deal or No Deal” said she needed 15,000 pounds for IVF treatment. George Michael secretly phoned the next day and gave her the 15,000 pounds.

Album: Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged

Artist: George Michael

Formats: Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged Limited Edition 3CD/1DVD Deluxe Box; Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged 2CD Edition; Listen Without Prejudice Vinyl Edition; Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged Digital; Record Company: Sony Music 

George Michael: Listen Without Prejudice/MTV Unplugged Track Listings

3 CD/1 DVD LIMITED EDITION BOX

Includes download codes

Original "Listen Without Prejudice" Album Cover

Original “Listen Without Prejudice” Album Cover

CD1 Listen Without Prejudice (Remastered)

  1. Praying For Time
  2. Freedom! ’90
  3. They Won’t Go When I Go
  4. Something To Save
  5. Cowboys And Angels
  6. Waiting For That Day
  7. Mother’s Pride
  8. Heal The Pain
  9. Soul Free
  10. Waiting (Reprise)

CD2 MTV Unplugged

  1. Freedom! ’90
  2. Fastlove
  3. I Can’t Make You Love Me
  4. Father Figure
  5. You Have Been Loved
  6. Everything She Wants
  7. Strangest Thing
  8. Older
  9. Star People
  10. Praying For Time
  11. Fantasy featuring Nile Rodgers

CD3 B Sides & Rarities

  1. Soul Free (Special Radio Edit)
  2. Freedom! (Back To Reality Mix)
  3. Freedom (Back To Reality Mix Edit)
  4. Fantasy 90
  5. Freedom (Edit)
  6. Cowboys & Angels
  7. If You Were My Woman
  8. Too Funky (Edit)
  9. Crazy Man Dance
  10. Do You Really Want To Know
  11. Happy
  12. Too Funky (Extended)
  13. Too Jazzy (Happy Mix)
  14. Fantasy 98
  15. George Michael with Paul McCartney – Heal The Pain
  16. George Michael with Astrud Gilberto – Desafinado

DVD

  1. The Southbank Show 1990
  2. Freedom! ’90 promo
  3. Praying For Time promo
  4. Freedom 90 MTV 10th Anniversary

2CD EDITION

CD1 Listen Without Prejudice (Remastered)

  1. Praying For Time
  2. Freedom! ’90
  3. They Won’t Go When I Go
  4. Something To Save
  5. Cowboys And Angels
  6. Waiting For That Day
  7. Mother’s Pride
  8. Heal The Pain
  9. Soul Free
  10. Waiting (Reprise)

CD2 MTV Unplugged  

  1. Freedom! ’90
  2. Fastlove
  3. I Can’t Make You Love Me
  4. Father Figure
  5. You Have Been Loved
  6. Everything She Wants
  7. Strangest Thing
  8. Older
  9. Star People
  10. Praying For Time
  11. Fantasy featuring Nile Rodgers

LISTEN WITHOUT PREJUDICE (VINYL)

SIDE A

  1. Praying For Time
  2. Freedom! ’90
  3. They Won’t Go When I Go
  4. Something To Save
  5. Cowboys And Angels

SIDE B

  1. Waiting for That Day
  2. Mothers Pride
  3. Heal The Pain
  4. Soul Free
  5. Waiting (Reprise)

 

 

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About Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times “Style” section for her “Word Portraits,” specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that “Starla” is indeed her real name.

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