Personnel includes: George Michael (vocals); Rob Mathes, Torrie Zito, Rob Mounsey (arranger, conductor); Jeff Mironov, Hugh Burns, Phil Palmer, Howie Gondewe (guitar); Elena Barere, Laura Hamilton (violin); Sue Pray, Maryhelen Brennard (viola); Richard Locker, Diane Barere (cello); Corky Hale, Stacey Shames (harp); Pamela Sklar, Katherine Fink (flute); Virgil Blackwell (clarinet, bass clarinet); Diane Lesser (oboe); Kim Laskowski (basoon); Rich Dallesio (English horn); Jim Hynes, Tony Kadleck (trumpet); Charlie Pillow, Andy Snitzer, Ken Hitchcock (woodwinds); Rob Mathes, Rob Mounsey (piano); Chris Cameron, Peter Gordeno (keyboards); David Finck (acoustic bass); Steve Walters (bass); Lewis Nash, Shawn Pelton, Frank Tontoh (drums); Danny Cummings (percussion).
Recorded at Right Track Studios, New York, New York. Includes liner notes by Phil Spector.
SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY was nominated for the 2001 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Whatever you want to say about the ubiquitous George Michael, you can't brand him as lacking in the confidence department. It somehow isn't surprising that he would take it upon himself to capture the legacy of the past hundred years on SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY. What is surprising are the unique choices--this isn't a standard set of standards. George has managed to span and reflect the last hundred years with 10 tracks, few of which come close to belonging to that fraternity of the century's hackneyed covers.
The songs are all presented, whether they be Depression-era ballads ("Brother Can You Spare a Dime") or punk/new wave anthems ("Roxanne"), in a blowsy, bluesy, super-laid-back style. With all his pop-dance leanings and overblown hits, it's almost easy to overlook a key facet of George Michael's success; the man can sing. On tracks like Rodgers & Hart's "Where or When" and the breathy, breathtaking cover of that U2/Eno side project the Passengers' "Miss Sarajevo," George's lilting tenor smooths its way right into the heart. The perfect time capsule for upcoming generations regarding the 1900s it's not, but it does stand as a fine collection of timeless tunes from timed eras.
What the critics say…
Mojo (Publisher) (1/00, p.102) - "…an attractive set of songs ranging from Yip Harburg's Depression-era anthem 'Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?'…through to a couple of more contemporary items in 'Roxanne' and 'Miss Sarajevo'….more Johnny Mathis than fabulously Frank…"
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