The last quarter-century has been nothing if not colorful for George Michael. But through all the controversy--the high-profile arrests and audacious videos, the falling-outs and band splits--he has emerged intact as a vital figure on the global pop scene--a fact compounded by his current 25 Live
tour and this accompanying Greatest Hits package. Twenty Five
is the fourth such collection in Michael's career, though it carries the obvious advantage of being more up to date than 1998's lauded Ladies & Gentlemen
and features not only solo material but music from the early Wham! days. As such, it's the most comprehensive anthology yet, featuring upbeat Wham! classics like "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" and "Freedom" amidst somber solo material like "Praying for Time" and "Jesus to a Child." Spread across two discs (29 songs in total), the collection not only includes a host of evergreen classics but also recent singles "An Easier Affair" and "This Is Not Real Love" (with former Sugababe Mutya Buena) and two unreleased tracks. There are some notable absences from the collection-"I Want Your Sex" and "Kissing a Fool" are two glaring omissions-but it still remains the most comprehensive survey of the artist's legacy to date. --Danny McKenna
Japanese pressing features two bonus tracks, 'Cub Tropicana' on disc one and 'Kissing a Fool' on disc two. Sony/BMG. 2006.