Any reckoning with age brings with it indices of mortality, and the veil of death weighs heavily on Older. “You Have Been Loved,” which Michael called his favorite on the album, depicts a Catholic woman standing at her son’s grave, struggling with her faith. Again, the shadow subject is Anselmo – the absurdity of his loss, Michael’s own attempts to come to terms with his desolation. The lyrics are so heartbreaking and simple that they scratch off lows that are shocking for a pop song – “I got no daughters / I got no sons / Guess I’m the only one living in my life – but the song rests on a redeeming ticket. “‘Beware, my love,’ she said / ‘Don’t think God is dead.’ – “You have been loved” is absolution Few pop songs about the power of love leave such a cold shadow.
The luxury packaging, which could swallow a living room floor when unfolded, unearths real gold. Especially for fans, EP-only, B-side tracks like the sore “Safe,” which suggested Michael was a Massive Attack fan, and the simmering, midtempo “You Know That I Want To” find a home outside from George Michael’s forums and unauthorized YouTube downloads for the first time. Michael’s own standards have crippled his output, but the flip side of that precision means the few scraps in his discography are stunningly perfect and finished.
The collected remixes add to Michael’s history as a quiet force in dance music even as he has become more closely associated with dark balladism. The “A/C Summer Remix” from “FastLove,” which includes sultry sax sounds from Wham! Andy Hamilton, collaborator and 80s sax and cheese king, is welcome. But the extended nine-minute drive of “FastLove Pt. 2” is a revelation, a bubbly nighttime highway of vocoder, arpeggiator tracks and bubbly synth pads.
There are polished, restrained live versions of hits – ‘Freedom ’90’, renamed ‘Freedom ’94’ here, shows none of the grit or feistiness of the studio’s original, though Michael is beautifully vocal. predictable. The same goes for a gospel choir-boosted rendition of “One More Try”: the vocal take captured on Faith remains Michael’s high point as a singer, a miracle of pristine tone and abandon. Michael’s perfectionism meant he was excellent on stage, but spontaneity was never his forte. He always seemed most at home in the studio, where he could cut stone as he pleased.
AncientCommercial reception of r was muted, perhaps befitting an album that dealt with such important themes and stood at such a distance from the pop market. “Fastlove” peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100, “Jesus to a Child” at No. 7, and that was more or less it for Michael, at least in America. On the fateful night of April 7, 1998, Michael was taking a break from work to take a walk in Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. A man named Marcelo Rodriguez approached Michael in a public restroom. Unbeknownst to Michael, Rodriguez was an undercover cop on “potty patrol” – the properly humiliating name given to the ridiculous task of patrolling public restrooms for sexual purposes. After leaving the bathroom, Michael found himself arrested for “lewd behavior”. He spent the time in his detention cell leafing through a copy of the National applicantbrooding over the certainty that next week’s cover would carry his own face.
Michael handled the incident with unparalleled grace, appearing on several talk shows to discuss it. He expressed embarrassment over the incident but stressed, time and time again, that he felt no shame. The secret was henceforth “unveiled”: he was no longer obliged to maintain the delicate fiction. But for anyone who had a clue, it had already revealed itself to the world, or at least anyone smart enough to listen, on their own terms.
All products featured on Pitchfork are independently selected by our editors. However, when you purchase something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.