George Michael – Ladies & Gentlemen – The Best Of George Michael (1998)

FrontCover1George Michael (born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou; 25 June 1963 – 25 December 2016) was an English singer, songwriter and record producer. Known as a leading creative force in music production, songwriting, vocal performance and visual presentation, he is regarded as one of the most significant cultural figures of the MTV era.

Born in East Finchley, North London, Michael rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham! and later embarked on a solo career. Forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley in 1981, the band’s first two albums, Fantastic (1983) and Make It Big (1984), reached number one on the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200. Their hit singles included “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Last Christmas”. Establishing themselves as a global act, Wham! toured China in April 1985; the tour was the first visit to China by a Western popular music act, and it generated worldwide media coverage.

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Michael’s first solo single, “Careless Whisper”, reached number one in over 20 countries, including the UK and US. Before embarking on the production of his first solo album, Michael went on to release two more number-one singles, “A Different Corner” and the Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”. Michael’s debut solo album, Faith, was released in 1987, topping the UK Albums Chart and staying at number one on the Billboard 200 for 12 weeks. Globally it sold 25 million copies, and four singles from the album—”Faith”, “Father Figure”, “One More Try”, and “Monkey”—reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Michael became the best-selling music artist of 1988, and Faith was awarded Album of the Year at the 1989 Grammy Awards. His second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990), sold approximately eight million copies and was a UK number-one. It included the Billboard Hot 100 number-one “Praying for Time” and the worldwide hit “Freedom! ’90”. A 1991 live duet with Elton John, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, was also a transatlantic number one. Michael went on to release two more multimillion-selling albums, Older (1996) and Patience (2004).

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Michael came out as gay in 1998. He was an active LGBT rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser. Michael’s personal life, drug use, and legal troubles made headlines during the late 1990s and 2000s, as he was arrested for public lewdness in 1998 and was arrested for multiple drug-related offences after that time. The 2005 documentary A Different Story covered his career and personal life. Michael’s 25 Live tour spanned three tours from 2006 to 2008. Michael fell into a coma in 2011 during a bout with pneumonia, but later recovered. He performed his final concert at London’s Earls Court in 2012. On 25 December 2016, Michael was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

Michael is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with sales of over 120 million records worldwide. He achieved seven number-one songs on the UK Singles Chart and eight number-one songs on the US Billboard Hot 100. Michael won various music awards, including two Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and six Ivor Novello Awards. In 2015, he was ranked 45th in Billboard’s list of the “Greatest Hot 100 Artists of All Time”. The Radio Academy named him the most played artist on British radio during the period 1984–2004.

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Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael is a greatest hits album by George Michael, released on 9 November 1998. The collection of 29 songs (28 on the North American release) is separated into two-halves, with each CD of the double set containing music of a particular theme and mood. The first CD, titled “For the Heart”, predominantly contains Michael’s hit ballads, while the second CD, “For the Feet”, comprises mostly his popular dance tunes. A DVD release also titled Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael followed in 1999, featuring 23 music videos from Michael’s career.

After his death in December 2016, it was revealed by Michael’s friend Geri Halliwell on The One Show that all of the British profits from the album went to the charity Terrence Higgins Trust.

Booklet2_08ABackground and productionLadies & Gentlemen is notable for containing a large number of ompilation tracks and duets that have not previously appeared on a George Michael album, including his US and UK number-one duet with Aretha Franklin, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”, previously available on Franklin’s 1986 album Aretha; “Desafinado”, the duet in Portuguese with Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto; and the Elton John duet “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”, from John’s 1993 album Duets. Most tracks are the full, unedited original album version:”Careless Whisper” is the single version, “A Different Corner” was remixed for this compilation, “Fantasy” is the original 1990 version, not the “Fantasy 98” remix which appeared on the ‘Outside’ singles in the same period. “I Want Your Sex” is presented as “Part II – Brass in Love” only, without the more widely publicized “Part I – Lust” section and “Monkey”, which was included on the US and Japanese editions, is presented as the single version remixed by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis in the US edition.

Ladies & Gentlemen was released by Sony Music Entertainment as a condition of Michael severing his contractual ties with the label amid a great deal of acrimony and publicity prior to the release of Older in 1996. However, singles from Older do appear on this compilation. Michael would later return to Sony to release his 2004 album Patience.


“Outside” was the first single from the album. The song was a humorous look at his arrest shortly before the release of the album for soliciting a policeman in a public restroom. “As”, Michael’s duet with Mary J. Blige, was released as the second single in many territories around the world. It reached number four on the UK Singles Chart. The track was left off the North American release of the album. There were rumours that Blige’s label was uncomfortable with Michael being gay, but this is contradicted by Blige’s embracing of her large gay fan base. Michael cited Blige’s record company president for pulling the track after Michael’s arrest for committing a lewd act.

In the United Kingdom the album opened at No. 1 on 21 November 1998 and stayed at the top of the chart for eight weeks, it dropped to No. 2 on 16 January 1999 and was present in the top 10 for 23 weeks. It remained on the chart for 119 weeks. It was certified 9x Platinum by the BPI on 11 January 2019 denoting shipments of 2.7 million units. The week following Michael’s death, the album had a 5,625% surge in sales and streams and re-entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 8; two weeks later it moved to No. 4 and stayed there for two weeks. In 2017 alone, it was on the chart for 23 weeks.

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In the United States the album debuted and peaked at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 with 50,000 copies sold during the week of 28 November 1998, the next week it dropped to No. 39 and remained on the chart for 27 weeks. It was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA on 5 October 2000 for shipments of 2 million units. As of October 2006, the album had sold 1.1 million copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. The week after Michael’s death, the album re-entered at No. 84 on the Billboard 200 with 11,000 units sold. (wikipedia)

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When George Michael was riding high on the charts, only a handful of critics acknowledged that he was a brilliant mainstream pop singer/songwriter who, at his best, rivaled his idol Elton John in crafting state-of-the-art pop songs and productions. For nearly a full decade, he was a superstar in his native U.K. and the U.S., and even when Older failed to win an American audience, he retained his stranglehold on the British and European charts. As a solo male hitmaker, virtually nobody could touch him between 1984 and 1994, and even when his grasp began to slip, he still made compelling music. All of this is proven by his first hits compilation, Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael. Spanning two discs, 28 songs, and two distinctive halves — one “For the Heart” (ballads), one “For the Feet” (dance tunes) — the collection is a monster, as impressive for its size as it is for its achievements.

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To some casual listeners, the sheer scope of the collection may seem overwhelming, since it doesn’t just have the hits, but also rarities, compilation tracks, lesser-known singles, and duets. Of course, that’s precisely what makes it worthwhile for anyone who owns all the albums. (They’ll also be interested that many of the mixes sound slightly different — as if the masters were run through the antiquated “Q Sound” process that marred Madonna’s similar Immaculate Collection.) And some skeptics may be swayed after listening to the individual discs, which are surprisingly consistent works that reveal forgotten gems, and thereby the true depth of his talent. It is true that listening to both discs in a row is a little exhausting, but there’s little question that Ladies & Gentlemen comes close to being definitive. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

This is the US edition with two booklets !

George Michael 8vocals)
many, many studio musicians



CD 1: For the Heart:
01. Jesus To A Child (Michael) Michael 6.51
02. Father Figure (Michael) 5.41
03. Careless Whisper (7″ version) (Michael/Ridgeley) 5.00
04. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (with Elton John) (John/Taupin) 5.48
05. You Have Been Loved (Michael/Austin) 5.30
06. Kissing A Fool (Michael) 4.35
07. I Can’t Make You Love Me (Shamblin/Reid) 5.22
08. Heal The Pain (Michael) 4.47
09. A Moment With You (Michael 5.42
10. Desafinado (with Astrud Gilberto) (Jobim/de Mendonça) 3.21
11. Cowboys And Angels (Michael) 7.14
12. Praying For Time (Michael) 4.44
13. One More Try (Michael) 5.54
14. A Different Corner (new mix) (Michael) 4.04

CD 2: For the Feet
01. Outside (Michael) 4.45
02. Fastlove (Michael) 5.31
03. Too Funky (Michael) 3.45
04. Freedom 90 (Michael) 6.29
05. Star People 97 (Michael) 5.38
06. Killer/Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone (Adamski/Seal/Whitfield/Strong) 4.16
07. I Want Your Sex (Part II) (Michael) 4.38
08. Monkey (Michael) 4.47
09. Spinning The Wheel (Michael/Douglas) 6.09
10. Waiting For That Day (Michael) (You Can’t Always Get What You Want) (Jagger/ Richards) 4.50
11. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (with Aretha Franklin) (Climie/Morgan) 3.58
12. Hard Day (Michael) 4.54
13. Faith (Michael) 4.13
14. Somebody To Love (with Queen) (Mercury) 5.23




Ray Charles – Genius & Friends (2005)

FrontCover1Atlantic/Rhino’s 2005 Genius & Friends is the end result of a project Ray Charles initiated a few months before his death in June 2004. According to James Austin’s liner notes, Charles called Austin in December of 2003, asking if he could find the masters to an unreleased duets record Ray recorded in 1997 and 1998. Austin found the tapes, but Charles was too sick to work on them, so after his passing — and after his final studio album, the duets record Genius Loves Company, became a number one hit in August of 2004 — Atlantic/Rhino decided to finish off the project, bringing in producer Phil Ramone to oversee the completion of the album. This included bringing in singers to record their parts, since apart from two tracks — a 1994 duet with Diana Ross on “Big Bad Love” and a live 1991 version of “Busted” with Willie Nelson (taken from the television special Ray Charles: 50 Years in Music) — these are all studio constructions, with vocalists duetting with a previously recorded Ray. While not quite the monstrosity it could have been — posthumous duets albums like this always bear an unsettling ghoulish undertow — Genius & Friends is also not a particularly good album either. This isn’t because the pairings are ill conceived — apart from the woefully outmatched American Idol winner Ruben Studdard on “Imagine” (which boasts perhaps Ray’s best vocal performance on this record), there’s nobody here who doesn’t hold his or her own, and Ramone has skillfully edited the new recordings with the existing tapes so it sounds like they were recorded at the same time, even if it rarely sounds as if the vocalists were in the same room together. Rather, the problem is that the productions are caught halfway between ’90s adult contemporary and modern neo-soul, sounding too slick and polished to really be memorable. It’s pleasant enough — and it’s top-loaded, too, with the duets with Angie Stone, Chris Isaak, and Mary J. Blige being among the best cuts — but it’s not as relaxed or appealing as Genius Loves Company, which had the feeling of being a real duets album. This feels like what it is — a professional studio creation. Not a terrible thing per se, but not something that makes for a good album, either.( by Stepen Thomas Erlewine)


01. Angie Stone:  All I Want to Do (McKinney/Walden) 4.00
02. Chris Isaak: You Are My Sunshine (Davis/Mitchell) 3.48
03. Mary J. Blige: It All Goes by So Fast (Hirsch/Levy) 5.07
04. Gladys Knight: You Were There (unknown) 3.41
05. The Harlem Gospel Singers / Ruben Studdard: Imagine (Lennon) 3.41
06. Leela James: Compared to What (McDaniels) 3.42
07. Diana Ross: Big Bad Love (Sample/Stephanie Tyrell/Steve Tyrell) 3.42
08. Idina Menzel: I Will Be There (Dakota/Walden) 4.43
09. George Michael: Blame It On The Sun (Wonder/Wright) 4.46
10. John Legend: Touch (McKinney/Walden) 4.40
11. Patti LaBelle / The Andraé Crouch Singers: Shout (Hilden/Walden) 5.10
12. Laura Pausini: Surrender To Love (unknown) 4.13
13. Willie Nelson: Busted (Howard) 2.32
14. Alicia Keys: America the Beautiful (Bates/Ward) 2.58