Soul Free from the 90s
At the start of the new decade, while still an undergraduate, with the paycheck from my first job as a full-time research assistant at the Laboratorio Nacional de Engenharia Civil, I finally bought a CD player. A Sony. With it came two free CDs, a collection of 70s hits and George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. As if to leave the 80s out, Sony gave me a collection of 70's hits (it did have some good funk tracks) and George Michael's cry for more artistic and personal Freedom in the new decade. I had liked some of Wham and Faith in the 1980s, but never enough to actually buy the records. So I would most likely not have bought Listen Without Prejudice if it had not come for free with the player. While I can't say this was the first CD I bought (that honor goes to the Pet Shop Boys' Behaviour, another classic), it was a very lucky accident, because it was and is a phenomenal album. Probably one of the CDs I have played most in my life. Its melancholy was a great surprise---certainly not a Wake me up before you GoGo deal. But what comes through most is George Michael's great singing ability and his musicianship---he was also certainly inspired by Soul II Soul's sound, of which I was a great fan at the time. Great to see a remastered version of this album now out, together with an unplugged live set and a CD full of remixes and one-off singles, nothing too new except for the Fantasy track now reworked by Niles Rodgers but utterly forgettable (I can see why it was not included in the original album). Still, the new deluxe compilation is a great reminder of how great this album still sounds. May his Soul remain free. And people, keep listening without prejudice.