Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ladies & Gentlemen • George Michael

George Michael photo george-michael_zps57317dc9.jpg
George Michael - Wham - Make It Big photo GeorgeMichaelmakeitbigwham_zpse96e20d3.jpg George Michael - Faith photo GeorgeMichaelFaith_zps701324ba.jpg George Michael - Older photo GeorgeMichaelOlder_zps085d7e4b.jpg

I have found myself shaking my fist to the sky, cursing the Gods of shipping as I stand by my mailbox, waiting for my copy of Anthony Callea's 'Ladies & Gentlemen: The Music of George Michael' to arrive from it's seemingly endless journey from Australia to the United States. Instead of getting too crazy, I have decided to return to the source of it all, and visit the brilliant Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou himself for his great music. Yes, that is the given name of entertainer extraordinaire, George Michael. And I shall start with a song that was given to us all almost exactly 30 years ago. "Careless Whisper" was officially released on July 24, 1984. It was a single off the Wham! album, 'Make It Big', but it is really credited to Wham! featuring George Michael. The song, written by George and his bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and stayed there for three weeks. This is the official music video for "Careless Whisper".

In October of 1987, the first solo album hit the ground, and George Michael was off and running. 'Faith' took the world by storm, offering a more mature and, dare I say it, sexier version of the superstar. The album went to #1 on the Billboard 200, and held the spot for 12 consecutive weeks. Hey, that is like three months in a row! 'Faith' also won the Grammy for 'Album of the Year'. The third single was released on January 2, 1980, and spent 14 weeks in the American Top 40. "Father Figure" also spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song had a smokey, smouldering quality, and I couldn't get enough of it. This is George Michael with the official music video for "Father Figure".

And finally, I take a look (or should I say a listen) to Michael's 1996 album, 'Older'. At first I laughed at the album title, for at that point George was only 33, hardly considered older. But once you hear it, you understand he was meaning to show how he had matured, how he had grown since the world had first gotten to know him as the lead singer of Wham! The first single was a brooding and melancholy song that spoke to loss and hurt. "Jesus to a Child" entered the American charts at #7. Later, it was said to be written by Michael as a loving tribute to his lover, Anselmo Feleppa, who the singer/songwriter had met after a concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1991. Their love burned bright, but the Brazilian passed away in 1995. Of course, this was all very hush-hush, for this was still while George was in the closet. But when you listen, you can feel the very real pain he was feeling. This is George Michael with his music video for "Jesus to a Child".

Unfortunately for us all, George Michael has faced his health struggles in recent years, from unexplained illnesses to substance abuse issues. But none of that can remove from our hearts and our ears the amazing music he brought to us all. Michael was forced out of the closet in 1998, when he was arrested for "engaging in a lead act" in a public restroom in Hollywood, California. It seems years of lviing in the closet had driven him to anonymous sex, which brought him to that public park. But the important thing is the music, and it is glorious. You can find all three tracks on his album 'Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael', an exceptional compilation of his music. You can purchase the album from Amazon. You can also find them on the compilation 'Twenty Five', available on iTunes and Amazon. For more bout George Michael, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

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