On his first solo album, Faith, hunk-monkey Michael only wanted your sex. Having had such extraordinary success with that approach (over 12 million sold), he has come back with a high-minded and dreary collection. This time Michael will settle for no less than your mind and heart. Heaven preserve us from serious pop stars.
Loftiness is evident from the first number, "Praying for Time." Set to a somber Lennonesque arrangement (unfortunately, that's Julian, not John), the song murkily bemoans our troubled, faithless times. On "Freedom 90"—at least this one's set to a radio-ready groove—he rails against the image he has spent the last four years cultivating: "I was every little hungry schoolgirl's pride and joy/And I guess it was enough for me/To win the race? A prettier face!/Brand new clothes and a big fat place/On your rock and roll TV/ But today the way I play the game is not the same/No way."
There's no questioning Georgieboy's talents for writing, singing, arranging and producing. (They are most evident on "Waiting for That Day" and "Heal the Pain.") But this largely acoustic collection may cause you to doubt his judgment.
Listen Without Prejudice is clearly Michael's manifesto of artistic integrity. Now that he has got this melancholy baby out of his system, he can get back to shaking his booty. (Columbia)