How many times should we all join together and one-up each
other heaping superlatives on Michael Jackson’s classic songs?
Almost as soon as the man died everyone from Hollywood to the
hinterland fell over themselves talking about their great love for the man and
his music. Swept away are the biting jokes with the Michael Jackson
punch lines, the scathing interviews given by now heartbroken friends including
actor Corey Feldman and ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, and talk of the wild New
York City press conference Jackson staged during 2002 when he called then Sony
chief Tommy Mottola a racist and held signs directing Mottola to “Go To Hell.”
Where once we saw no good in Jackson, now we see no bad. And that, I must
cynically add, is because there’s money to be made. As one household name musician said to me not long after
Jackson’s death, there are so many things done in Michael’s name that are not
even about him, it’s terrifying.
That brings us, of course, to This Is It the CD that accompanies the soundtrack to the movie that
Dame Elizabeth Taylor has Twittered is a “masterpiece.”
I can’t tell you about the movie; I haven’t seen it and
don’t plan to. The This Is It CD,
which landed on my desk (clearly via Sony’s “extra wide distribution” plan), is
Yes, “Man In The Mirror,” “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean” are
phenomenal, classic songs (You may have heard this before). Yes, the sparse
four-track Disc Two has cool demos of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “She’s Out
of My Life,” and “Beat It,” – though I think Jackson’s reading of the poem
“Planet Earth” is a bit bizarre, even for filler.
But while audiophiles might find some excitement in some of
these remastered tracks, my guess is that the casual listener won’t pick up the
nuances. If you have any of Jackson’s classic albums or the countless
compilations, you have enough.
As a lifelong Jackson fan, I have often read that Jackson
was a perfectionist who worked for months, years even, to produce music and art
that met his standards. No, he didn’t always hit the mark. But like the man himself,
he wasn’t all good or bad. Just human.
Obviously, if Jackson
wanted to put out what is essentially a greatest hits package, which included
the new song “This Is It” (in both original and orchestral versions) he could
have done so long ago.
This Is It – and it’s a shame. I can’t help believe Jackson
would be appalled at what is being done in his name to make money.
Standout Tracks: “Wanna
Be Startin’ Something,” “Billie Jean” NANCY