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Happy Birthday to George Michael’s Older – 20 years old today!

gm_older

We wait in anticipation for the ’25th’ anniversary reissue of George Michael‘s second album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1, later this year, but today, let’s remember its follow-up, 1996’s Older, which is 20 years old on this very day…

While George’s stock fell in America around this time, Older was massive in Europe and especially the UK where George’s hit-making mojo returned after LWP delivered some rather disappointing statistics, chart-wise. If you remember Freedom ’90 as a big hit, think again – it peaked at a lowly number 28 in the UK, with Heal the Pain unable to penetrate the top 30 and Cowboys and Angels not even making the top 40 in Britain. Even the bona fide hit, Praying For Time ‘only’ reached number six.

Five and a half years after Listen Without Prejudice, with his high profile legal battle with Sony behind him, GM returned with Older and casually delivered SIX singles all of which made the top 3 in the UK singles chart. The singles were as follows (chart positions in brackets):

  1. Jesus to a Child (1)
  2. Fastlove (1)
  3. Spinning The Wheel (2)
  4. Older (3)
  5. Star People ’97 (2)
  6. You Have Been Loved (2)


Much as I love the album, looking back, it’s amazing to think that Star People (probably the weakest track) was a number two hit and the sombre Older (albeit paired with a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me) managed to climb to number three.

You Have Been Loved seemed almost certain to break this sequence of massive hits when fate intervened. Diana, Princess of Wales died just before the single came out and the British public adopted the song almost as an unofficial tribute to her, which aided its climb to the unfeasibly high position of number two.

George hadn’t been this popular in Britain since 1986 (American SDE readers may be shocked to note that, just like LWP, Faith contains no UK number one singles) and if you use the post-Listen Without Prejudice Elton John duet of Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me as your starting point, George Michael had eleven consecutive top five singles, including four that reached the summit and a quartet that peaked at number two.

Older has never been reissued although in 1997 a special two-CD edition Older & Upper was released. Take a look at this set in the video below. Happy Birthday, Older!

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32 responses to Happy Birthday to George Michael’s Older – 20 years old today!

  1. Simon Taylor says:

    I love this album and can’t wait for a double vinyl reissue. Surely has to happen soon. I bought the Symphonica double vinyl release, very good. But this is the one I want. To be honest as a cd it flows really well, even the lesser tracks. Quite chilled but dark also. No bad thing. Wish he would make another album like this one.

  2. Gio says:

    Double Vinyl please!!!!

  3. elliott buckingham says:

    older and upper is a great set and dirt cheap 2nd hand

  4. Gary says:

    I really love this album, I hated Jesus As A Child when it was out as a single but Fastlove was a great single. I bought this album originally as a present for someone else and I played it and funnily enough I fell for Jesus As A Child. I think it is an album that has to be played from start to finish and to enjoy every track!

  5. Note, however, that “Star People” charted in a remixed version. Personally, the version of the song he performed on MTV’s Unplugged is my favorite.

  6. Kiki says:

    I really love the remixed version of Star People! Even the Forthright mix of the song is so enjoyable !
    To me, “you have been loved” is surely the poorest track of the album…

    I remember also being very much excited when “I ‘m your man” was redone at the time of “Fastlove” single, even including a part of it (wasn’t it in the extended version ?)

    “Spinning the wheel” and “The strangest thing” conatins also great mixes…

    So yes, “Older” had become obviously a masterpiece in the discography of George Michael, after the marvellous “Faith” and “listen without prejudice”, so I was not prepared for the awful “songs from the last century” and the pale “Patience”…

  7. David says:

    The demos for this album are hard to track down but are worth the listen. There are demo’s for Fastlove, Star People, Older, Spinning The Wheel and some others that didn’t made the album such as Disco, Moody and Lonely Nights.

    • ROSS SUDDERICK says:

      Disco was a track that was to be on LWP vol 2. Moody was the first name for Fastlove !

  8. Daran says:

    My first ever SDE. Still like Upper more than Older…

  9. Eric says:

    I think it helped the Older singles that the CDs were presented in quality digipaks with exclusive material, and priced at 1.99 (at a time when a lot were still 3.99). I suspect the same (star) people were buying each single religiously on the week of release, I know I was.

  10. Alan says:

    I love this album. “The Strangest Thing” was also a single, but I think it was a double A-Side of “You Have Been Loved”. Like “Star People”, “The Strangest Thing” was remixed for single release. I prefer the album version. It’s sad he’s only released one proper album since Older.

  11. gwynogue says:

    Your comment about Freedom! ’90 made me check Wikipedia for the Australian position – I got quite a surprise! The video got a LOT of rotation on our Saturday morning music/chart shows so I remember it as being quite a big hit. Turns out it only reached #18…! Sure, it’s still top 20, but it’s nowhere near the top 5/number 1 smash I had been thinking.

  12. whome says:

    You did not mention that the cds from this version are gold cds edition. I and think that this gold cds version sounds batter for me than the standard silver cd.

  13. MINO says:

    “The Strangest Thing” was a single as well… My favourite one!

  14. Greg Greatbatch says:

    Also Paul, both discs in this set were Gold both sides. The standard album contained a standard silver cd. Not a bit point but just another detail. I have this SE in my collection.

  15. Seb Sharp says:

    I was working my first day in a major Sydney chain store in Pitt Street (Brashs) when this was released, we had a special deal with the record company to promote it and the front part of the store was filled with stock. We sold over 300 copies before close of business that day, I’d never seen anything like it.

    @Kiki, I’m a big fan of the I’m Your Man remix too – the version of Fastlove you’re remembering that segued into it was track three on the CD single, called Fastlove (Part II) and clocks in just under nine and a half minutes.

    *gets up to get down*

  16. Anthony C says:

    An awesome album and period of music. This album was so successful that it was even promoted over two different Christmas campaigns which is unheard of.

    I still have the cover fold out edition of Music Week when this album was first advertised.

    The plethora of 12inch dance promos from this era are also so very awesome.

    As always for GM music, a very collectible era with some great editions around the world.

    :-)

  17. Shane says:

    Normal packaging? They were gold discs!

  18. André says:

    Great tribute, Paul. An SDE of this sublime release is a must – if Sony coulc be bothered!

    BTW, You Have Been Loved reached #2 not #3. It was released the same week as Elton’s Candle In The Wind ’97 but didn’t stand a chance against the massive success of that song! A shame, as it would have easily been #1 in any other week.

    • bob says:

      Yes I seem to remember it getting to no 2 as well. I actually loved that single, but it is an incredibly sad song. I played Older recently for the first time in ages. It is a great album but somehow it has dated more than Listen Without Predujice in my opinion.
      Do we know for sure that the anniversary album due this year is LWP? Older would make more sense given that it is 20 years since it’s release.
      As mentioned, who would have thought that we would only have one more studio album after this one, and a lousy one at that, such a shame given George’s huge talent.
      I remain optimistic that George has one more great album in him, let’s hope we get it soon.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Yes, sorry everyone. My mistake about You Have Been Loved, it did indeed get to number two. I have amended the wording. Thanks :)

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        I do know for sure it’s LWP.

        • bob says:

          Great news. I cant wait for this, this is maybe number one on my wish list for a deluxe release.
          Please let it be worth the wait…

  19. colin says:

    How do you remove the subtitles from the video please?

  20. Mark says:

    I remember watching the Chart Show (remember it?) on the Saturday morning where they played “You Have Been Loved” as the number one and then announced in the middle of it with their pop up facts that “Candle In The Wind” had just overtaken it. Lovely song and a terrific album.

  21. Ed says:

    Was never a fan of George Michael, but then this album appeared. I happened to hear it as it arrived by mistake, I think, from Britannia Music Club (remember them?) for my brother and I really liked it. Like the odd song here and there besides this album, but this is his best work IMO.

  22. Rik_K says:

    Why isn’t this edition called “Way Older”?

  23. Benny Chan says:

    Yes, double 180g vinyl reissue please.. I have been waiting to buy this on vinyl for so long…

  24. elliott buckingham says:

    brought every cd single from this release for all the non album tracks and remixes

  25. Anthony C says:

    On another note, no one has yet mentioned that 28th July 2016 will be the 30th anniversary of Wham! splitting up – hopefully we may see some activity but sadly I doubt it.

  26. les oldfield says:

    Just managed to pick up a copy of this on vinyl from a second hand store in Greece for 25euros!
    Definitely my bargain of the year as the cheapest copy ive seen up to now was £200 on Discogs..
    Would welcome a reissue though, one of my all time favorite albums.

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