|George Michael - Songs From the Last Century|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Tuesday, 14 December 1999|
It is funny how this Hollywood works. Ask Tony Bennett or look at the career of Frank Sinatra or even Madonna. No where in the world can you sore higher – faster. No where in the world can you hit lower lows. George Michael knows this. WHAM! was a smash hit. His early solo career was even bigger but times change. Tastes change. And if the media gets a chance to kick you while you are down – boy watch out. It is hard to say what was worse, Mr. Michaels getting caught spanking his proverbial monkey in a park in Beverly Hills or his last attempt at a comeback record on Dreamworks.
The beautiful thing is George Michaels is a talent. He can sing. And on Songs From The Last Century, his first record of his deal with Virgin Records, he took no chances by performing a collection of standards. To further stack the deck super-producer, Phil Ramone (Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel and Paul Simon) was called in to make sure Songs From The Last Century is a killer. And it is.
From an audio standpoint, Songs From The Last Century is the absolute best sounding, most resolute CD I have heard in 1999. The acoustic accompaniments are detailed and sweet. The feel of the record is analog, warm and engaging. I will be taking Songs From The Last Century with me to the up coming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January to use as a reference disc to evaluate the best in music playback systems.
Some of the highlights of Songs From The Last Century include a convincing version of the Rodgers and Hart song "Where or When" which features a smooth orchestration that even The Chairman of the Board (god rest his soul) would approve of. The best example of George Michael as a vocalist, which I never really thought of him as, is the Ewan Macoll tune "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The tune is just Michaels and a piano accompaniment and it works. This biggest risk Ramone and Michaels took on Songs From The Last Century was covering "Roxanne" The Police anthem. The Michaels version features a sultry standup bass and a slow piano bar swing that is absolute great and original. The risk paid off.
I encourage you to invest in this record even if George Michaels isn’t the first pick on your CD buying list. Take it from me, you wont buy a better sounding CD and the performance will surprise you. Songs From The Last Century is a guaranteed winner.