For over two years prior to his tragic death, George Michael had been working on the remastering of his iconic album ‘Listen Without Prejudice’, as well as co-Directing a feature-length documentary entitled ‘Freedom’ – which was to chart the story of his career in his own words. Following his passing, George’s family and friends decided both projects should be completed in-line with his wishes.
The emotionally-charged ‘Freedom’ premiered on Channel4 (in the UK) last night and within it ran the first two TV executions from Trailer Park London’s integrated campaign for the re-release of George’s most important musical work.
As a child of the Seventies, I grew up with George as a constant presence in my musical life, but it’s only in the past four months working with David Austin and the team at Sony Music UK, that I’ve come to realise just what an impact he had as an artist.
Take ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ as a case in point – an album born from (amongst other things), George’s frustration with the way he’d been packaged by his label and the way music was being pigeonholed by the industry (as well as other artists). At the time, his responses to these frustrations shook the industry – from his insistence that he didn’t feature on the album’s cover, to his refusal to promote its release.
He even refused to appear in the video for its first single, ‘Praying For Time’ – a huge decision in 1990, when MTV (which had only launched in ’81) was already at the height of its power. If you just look at the nominees for the VMA’s that year, anyone from my generation will immediately be transported back to their youth – Vogue (Madonna), Rhythm Nation (Janet Jackson), You Can’t Touch This (MC Hammer), the list goes on.
But there was George, already subverting the new normal, rejecting packaged glitz and glamour in favour of the raw power of his lyrics, in white, animated against a stark black background.
For the team here at Trailer Park London, it’s the historical, emotional and creative complexity which made this such a privilege to work on. Our part in this legendary artist’s story is admittedly tiny, but we’d like to think that somewhere, George is looking down with a wry smile on his face – appreciating the campaign’s disruptive simplicity, bravery, honesty and humour.
Trailer Park London’s integrated ‘Listen Without Prejudice + MTV Unplugged’ campaign rolls out across the UK and the rest of the world from today.