George Michael: Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 – with “Something to Save” video cover

George Michael - Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1Part 4 of 12 Albums That Stuck With Me

There are a lot of drum machines and synthesized instruments on this album. Those things were a lot more obvious in 1990. Wow.

If memory serves, this CD belonged to my brother starting in my junior high school days. It’s an odd mix of personal yet fairly generic relationship songs plus several attempts at socially significant anthems. The unchallenging political statements of “Praying for Time” and “Mothers Pride” registered in my brain, but the 13-year-old me was mostly feeling overdramatic about girls. When I blasted it in the living room during my latchkey days, it was for the loneliness angst.

How could one resist, after all, including a tune with the line “There’s one year of my life in these songs and some of them are about you” on an emo mixtape slipped into a crush’s locker? “Something to Save” and “Waiting for That Day” are ridiculously easy to learn, as well, so this budding guitar crooner took to them quite intensely.

But really, the best reason to listen (without prejudice, of course) is track 5, “Cowboys and Angels”. This seven-minute jazzy number is a significant departure from the dance-pop Michael is best known for, and seemed remarkably insightful to me in my early teenage years. It’s still a delight to hear for its instrumental solos  – piano intro, muted saxophone jam session to the end, and upright bass fills – and multiple key changes. Play it during any romantic comedy and the movie actually becomes a rainy black-and-white noir film. Any hat you might be wearing transforms into a tattered fedora.

In fact, don’t even watch the video below. Just go listen to “Cowboys and Angels” on your favorite free music service. It’s so much better.

(Just kidding, you can watch the video. It’s weirdly right-aligned but there’s briefly a cat head in it.)

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