Songs from the Last Century

Songs from the Last Century

5.0 2
by George Michael
     
 

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After a 17-year career as one of pop's most successful stars -- and a reported 67 million in record sales worldwide -- George Michael up and decides to record an album of songs by noted composers of the past 100 years. Perhaps it's a simple nod to the millennium changeover, but in Michael's case, an album that sits the Depression-era

Overview

After a 17-year career as one of pop's most successful stars -- and a reported 67 million in record sales worldwide -- George Michael up and decides to record an album of songs by noted composers of the past 100 years. Perhaps it's a simple nod to the millennium changeover, but in Michael's case, an album that sits the Depression-era hallmark "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" next to Sting's classic "Roxanne," and the time-honored "My Baby Just Cares for Me" alongside the timely U2-Eno anthem "Miss Sarajevo" seems more a bid to break yet another pop-music barrier. Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry, Linda Ronstadt, Sinéad O'Connor, Joe Jackson, and Sting have all taken on the great American songbook, with varying degrees of success. Here, Michael's urbane vocals glide over rich arrangements and expert production by veteran Phil Ramone, and a song selection that tends toward laid-back ("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," "You've Changed") makes it a relaxed journey. Only a couple of numbers pick up the pace -- the kicky "Secret Love" and the kitschy "My Baby Just Cares for Me" -- but throughout, Michael engages these well-crafted songs with a knowing, upbeat style that nods more to Las Vegas lounge cool than offhand pop lark. In that case, perhaps Michael, a veteran at 36, is looking toward the next century and getting ready for those twilight years.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Unlike many covers albums, Songs From the Last Century is a cohesive, enjoyable diversion. With the help of co-producer Phil Ramone, George Michael has crafted a warm, intimate album built around a small combo of piano, guitar, bass, and drums. Orchestras, big bands, harps, and on one occasion, a rock band augment the basic combo, yet the flourishes never change the essential, close-knit nature of the group. For the first time ever, Michael sounds relaxed. He's lying back, singing songs he loves, not worrying about chart success, and the end result is quite fetching, even if it isn't perfect. The main flaw with Songs From the Last Century is that it's so smooth, it's occasionally a little sleepy, a trait that's emphasized by Michael's fairly predictable taste in covers -- "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," "My Baby Just Cares for Me," and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," among others. Nevertheless, he does bring style and sophistication to these standards, even such often-covered yet still difficult tunes as "Wild as the Wind." When his selections are idiosyncratic -- whether it's a jazzy reading of "Roxanne," the brassy "Secret Love," the little-remembered "I Remember You," or a revelatory reading of "Miss Sarajevo," a song commonly dismissed as a U2 side project -- the album is delightful. Certainly, Songs From the Last Century isn't a major work; it's a way for Michael to decompress and have some fun, and the diehards who stuck with him through the turbulent '90s are likely to be charmed.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/14/1999
Label:
Virgin Records Us
UPC:
0724384874025
catalogNumber:
48740

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

George Michael   Primary Artist
Rob Mounsey   Piano,Conductor
Corky Hale   Harp
Lewis Nash   Drums
Abe Appleman   Violin
Diane Barere   Celli
Elena Barere   Violin,Concert Master
Herb Besson   Trombone
Virgil Blackwell   Clarinet
Lawrence Feldman   Woodwind
David Finck   Bass
Barry Finclair   Violin,Concert Master
Crystal Garner   Viola
Juliet Haffner   Viola
Joyce Hammann   Violin
Kenneth Hitchcock   Woodwind
Regis Iandiorio   Violin
Jean Ingraham   Violin
Tony Kadleck   Trumpet
Carol Landon   Viola
Kim Laskowski   Bassoon
Jeanne LeBlanc   Celli
Ann Leathers   Violin
Richard Locker   Celli
Rob Mathes   Piano,Conductor
Jeff Mironov   Guitar
John Moses   Clarinet
Jan Mullen   Violin
Shawn Pelton   Drums
Sue Pray   Viola
Tim Ries   Woodwind
Marcus Rojas   Tuba
Roger Rosenberg   Woodwind
Mark Orrin Shuman   Celli
Pamela Sklar   Flute
Andy Snitzer   Woodwind
Byron Stripling   Trumpet
Marti Sweet   Violin
Donna Tecco   Violin
David Tofani   Woodwind
Ellen Westerman   Celli
Jim Hynes   Trumpet
Jacqui Danilow   Bass
Diane Lesser   Oboe
Carol Webb   Violin
Chris Komer   French Horn
Maura Giannini   Violin
Dave Mann   Woodwind
Jeff Kievit   Trumpet
Caryl Paisner   Celli
Charles Pillow   Woodwind
Marji Danilow   Bass
Sheryl Henze   Flute
Karen Griffen   Flute
Arvil Brown   Violin
Laura Oatts   Violin
Jeff Lang   French Horn
Stacey Shames   Harp
Laura Hamilton   Violin

Technical Credits

Ewan MacColl   Composer
Dimitri Tiomkin   Composer
George Michael   Producer,Liner Notes
Sting   Composer
Rob Mounsey   Arranger
Edge   Composer
Bono   Composer
Adam Clayton   Composer
Walter Donaldson   Composer
Brian Eno   Composer
Sammy Fain   Composer
Frank Filipetti   Engineer
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Rob Mathes   Arranger
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Larry Mullen   Composer
Phil Ramone   Producer,Liner Notes
Ned Washington   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Torrie Zito   Arranger
Bill Carey   Composer
Carl Fischer   Composer
Victor Schertzinger   Composer
Jay Gorney   Composer

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Songs from the Last Century 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
George Michael's voice is an instrument -- a gift from above. He is able to sooth and comfort by singing absolutely anything. Some songs are more suited for his voice, but he can never sing anything badly. This album is great for days when you just want something to chill with. Great to hear George doing some other tunes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who actually *listens* to the music that comes out of their stereo speakers probably realized a long time ago that George Michael has a great voice. In fact, they probably wondered why the beautiful voice wasn't being used to sing American standards. At last the wait and wonder have been put to an end with a CD that I don't want to take out of the stereo. SONGS FROM THE LAST CENTURY come out of the speaker with grace, some gently, some boisterously, but all with great arranging, inflection, and tone. There's a wide range of choice as the online summary indicates... personally, I loved the swing of