George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1

More George Michael

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  • The first copy to ever hit the site, this wonderful UK pressing earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides and plays about as quietly as we can find them
  • Dramatically more “natural” than most (the scare quotes are there for a reason; it’s clear that George has never been interested in that quality) – feel free to donate your dubby domestic pressings to the Goodwill, they’re a joke next to this Brit
  • Michael’s second studio release, a far superior album to Faith in our opinion, shows the maturation of his skills in songwriting and production – it’s a personal favorite of mine to this day
  • “These songs are great because they showcase GM’s voice in so many different lights. The production is stellar and the variety of music impressive. “

This original British Epic pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with George Michael, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

And of course the CD is a joke compared to the good British vinyl we are offering here.

What the best sides of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, from 1990 have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1990
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above.

Rock in the Eighties and Nineties

For Big Production Rock Albums such as this, there are some obvious problem areas that are heard on one or both sides of practically any copy of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1.

With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared — problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts — the mix quickly becomes congested, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of musical interest.

Transparency, clarity and presence are key. Note that none of the British copies we played was excessively thin. (Unlike the domestic copies — they are clearly made from dubs and lack the richness only found on the imports.) Most had a fair amount of Tubey Magic and bass, so thankfully that was almost never a problem.

However, many did lack top end extension and transparency to some degree, and many were overly compressed. The sides that had sound that jumped out of the speakers, with driving rhythmic energy, worked the best for us. They really brought this complex music to life and allowed us to make sense of it.

This is yet another definition of a Hot Stamper — it’s the copy that lets the music work as music.

What We’re Listening For on Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Praying For Time
Freedom
They Won’t Go When I Go
Something To Save
Cowboys And Angels

Side Two

Waiting For That Day
Mothers Pride
Heal The Pain
Soul Free
Waiting (Reprise)

AMG 5 Star User Review

This is a spectacular album! I was in high school when Faith came out and my indie / punk / college-radio ethos made me almost violently opposed to that album and all it represented. Fast forward a few years, house and techno are creeping into my collection and Freedom ’90 drops. Not Earth-shattering, but over 3-4 weeks it drilled itself into my head and wouldn’t leave.

I gave in and picked up LWP, Vol. 1 on a whim and that is when the Earth shook for me. These songs are great because they showcase GM’s voice in so many different lights. The production is stellar and the variety of music is impressive. Perhaps the best compliment I can give this album is that it allowed me to hear Faith again “without prejudice” and eventually love that album too.

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