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Twenty Five

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Album Review

The Twenty Five in the title of this 2006 compilation (released in the U.S. in 2007) refers to the number of years George Michael has been in the music business — a quarter of a century, during which time Michael was always a superstar, yet his legacy is based almost entirely on a decade where he did no wrong, when he effortlessly raised from teenybopper to savvy white soulster, the seeming heir to Elton John's throne of a mega-popular pop singer/songwriter with undeniable skill, considerable commercial appeal, and substance. That last bit has proved to be the tricky part for Michael: after he became a star, he became obsessed that his musical substance wasn't evident to the world at large, so he got sober (at least musically) at the beginning of the '90s with Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, a worthy record that effectively killed his career momentum as its indulgent, studied gravity overwhelmed such pop gems as "Freedom! '90." He took a long break after Listen Without Prejudice, returning six years later with Older. By that point, his American audience had shrunk dramatically, turning him into a U.K.-only star (not quite as provincial as Mick Hucknall, but close) and then when the bottom fell out of his popularity there, he turned into a universal tabloid icon, generating seamy stories as he frequented seedy rest stops while seeming to not be able get through a drive without nodding off at the wheel.

Not a legacy anybody wants, and not a legacy Michael deserves, at least on sheer musical grounds, but Twenty Five doesn't necessarily stand as a testament to this fact for the perennial George Michael problem: it, like the man himself after Faith, is too concerned with seeming serious. So, even if this is presented as a quarter-century-spanning compilation, it writes Wham! out of the equation with the exception of four songs including "Careless Whisper" — which, after all, was the first Wham! single to bear an individual credit for George Michael — and playing down such Faith-era staples as "I Want Your Sex" and "Monkey" in favor for stiff late-'90s dance-pop like "Too Funky," "Freeek!," and "Shoot the Dog." These all arrive on the first disc of this set, which bears the wonderful subtitle "For Living," while the second disc is labeled "For Loving" — meaning, of course, this is where the ballads go, and by and large it's better than the "Living" disc since it doesn't avoid any big hits: it has "Careless Whisper," "A Different Corner," "Father Figure," "One More Try," "Praying for Time," and "Jesus to a Child," along with several moderate U.K. hits. This means that this individual disc holds together better than its companion, but as a compilation Twenty Five isn't nearly as comprehensive or fun as the previous George Michael two-disc set, 1999's Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael, which did encompass the Wham! hits — and since he had no big hits since that comp, the extra seven years this covers doesn't hold much of interest for anybody but the hardcore (and if they're interested, there's a three-disc deluxe edition, with the third disc being a hodgepodge of rarities that are marginally interesting but never quite compelling for those who aren't already devoted). So, even if it's not entirely satisfying as either a listen or a career overview, Twenty Five winds up being a fitting George Michael comp in at least one regard: it's loaded with promise at its outset but doesn't deliver upon its potential.

Customer Reviews

Decent Enough But Unnecessary

This was obviously an attempt to capitalize on the world tour George Michael underwent between 2006 and 2008. Sure, it does have all of the major hits and most accomplished work, along with some rather so-so tracks from his last album PATIENCE. But I would highly recommend taking a pass on this and purchasing instead the previous greatest hits compilation LADIES & GENTLEMEN which has even more must-have songs and three additional duets. Then, go back and purchase only 3 songs from this one: "Precious Box," "Understand," and "Fantasy." You will then have a definitive, near-complete George Michael collection.

Get it!

Just saw George Michael in San Jose...AMAZING!!! He covered Roxanne and here it is on this extended version of 25. Worth the extra bucks to get all the extras!

Understand

Well I have to say that for the last 5 years I mostly overlooked this CD because I have every song on it from previously released albums of George. Except "Understand" which I accidentally discovered tonight. Can't believe all this time has gone by without knowing about this gem. It's so beautiful. Over the years George has released singles that were never heard here in the US so jewels like this song slipped past me. Glad to have found out about it. His voice is of course, amazing.

Biography

Born: June 25, 1963 in East Finchley, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

George Michael was the biggest British pop star of the 1980s, spinning a series of infectiously catchy pop singles into global stardom that saw him sell over 100 million albums worldwide. Blessed with good looks, a fine voice, and a knack for writing engaging melodies that worked well with dance-friendly rhythms, Michael became the rare teen sensation who matured into a respected star as an adult, though his life after achieving pop icon status has not been without personal and creative challenges....
Full Bio
Twenty Five, George Michael
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  • $19.99
  • Genres: Pop, Music
  • Released: Feb 06, 2007
  • Clean

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