The Second Disc

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Five Things the Michael Jackson-Sony Deal Should Consider

with 7 comments

After a deafening silence broken only by the just-OK This is It album, Michael Jackson’s posthumous release projects at Sony just amped up. The King of Pop’s estate and Sony Music have brokered a $250 million, ten-album deal that will keep the Jackson train rolling at Sony through 2017.

Speculation has already begun over what the nine forthcoming titles (the This is It soundtrack is retroactively included in the deal) will be. Rumored audio titles include:

  • New reissues of Off the Wall and Bad
  • A number of discs of unreleased material, the first due as early as the end of the year
  • A remix album (hopefully a compilation of old remixes instead of unnecessary new ones)
  • The soundtrack to a rumored Cirque du Soleil show based on MJ’s music

There’s also been talk of a comprehensive DVD set of Jackson’s entire music video archive. Obviously, all these titles are super-exciting if you’re a Jackson fan/catalogue enthusiast. But fans have been burned before by entries from the Jackson catalogue with less-than-perfect presentation. With that (and the importance of maintaining Jackson’s catalogue to the most perfect degree) in mind, you’ll find after the jump a list of five things Sony should take into account while they’re prepping material.

– If there will be reissues of old albums, pack them as full of bonus material as possible. The 2001 reissues of Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad and Dangerous are treats for the MJ collector, but they’re also a reminder of what could have been. Most of the bonus audio material is Quincy Jones giving long-winded interviews instead of bonus tracks galore. This is made even more agonizing knowing that at least one of the 2001 editions was intended to be a double-disc reissue. So when these intended reissues of Off the Wall and Bad come to pass, don’t include a This is It-style bonus disc of four songs. Make the bonus material its own listening experience.

– Use the original masters. Off the Wall and Bad were both slightly altered when they were pressed to CD. “Rock with You” and “Get on the Floor” were both remixed, and a good chunk of the songs on Bad (“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Dirty Diana,” “Bad” and a few others) were included in single mix forms or new tweaked mixes entirely. Why not configure these albums in the way they were first intended? (Especially after failing to deliver with the promise of “original album masters” on This is It.)

– There is still no comprehensive MJ singles compilation. There are plenty of hits discs by Jackson – Number Ones, the first disc of HIStory, The Essential Michael Jackson – but they use the actual single material (that is, unique mixes or edits included on the original 7″ singles) only sparingly. No doubt fans would like to replicate some of those great single masters on compact disc.

– Don’t overlook The Jacksons. Those reissues of Destiny (1978) and Triumph (1980) are essential pieces of the Michael Jackson puzzle. They prove that Jackson was well on his way to becoming a crazy genius entertainer for some time. More love for the group would be most appreciated, including a release of what may be the most head-spinningly awesome demo of all time.

Moonwalker. How on Earth has this not been released on DVD yet? This crazy trip into Jackson’s mind circa 1988 shows Jackson as an entertainer who hasn’t quite crossed the barrier between sprawling monolith and overblown monstrosity. Plus, it has Joe Pesci as a bad guy who is not related to the mob and does not get hit in the face with a paint can. And that giant robot. Throw in the Bad-era videos as bonus features and you’re basically ready to go.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 10:03

7 Responses

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  1. The need to remasted The Jacksons Live cd … and go back to the original Heartbreak Hotel name and not This Place Hotel (which is never said in the song)


    March 16, 2010 at 22:25

    • I’d like to see that disc expanded and properly annotated (where the songs were recorded), if it’s possible.

      Mike Duquette

      March 16, 2010 at 23:52

  2. Michael Jackson did not produce anything decent in his final 20 years.
    I really don’t understand why all the excitement is about.

    There are far better artists/musicians who need the money more than the estate of a dead pop star.


    March 17, 2010 at 01:01

  3. I didn’t know that about “Off the Wall.” (The “Bad” substitutions I was aware of.) But with those two being the only ones mentioned, I am quite afraid that they might be like the horror of Thriller 25.

    I heard a rumor that Michael and Quincy Jones put together a cover version of Yellow Magic Orchestra’s “Behind the Mask” (also tackled by Eric Clapton). I’d love to hear that.

    And if the Freddie Mercury demos were officially released, Sony would have my money immediately.


    March 17, 2010 at 09:09

  4. Would welcome deluxe edtion reissues of Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” & “Bad” only if they included the original LP versions of the tracks you mentioned in your article (and if they would restore the original front cover of “Off The Wall” with Michael’s face).

    Eddie Scott

    March 17, 2010 at 09:46

    • Agreed on the cover art! It’s such a little thing in the grand scheme – especially when you can add whatever art you like in iTunes – but it would make quite an impact as a physical product.

      Mike Duquette

      March 17, 2010 at 21:05

  5. Since the 3-D format is really big right now, “Captain EO” would make a great DVD, with bonus features of behind-the-scenes and making-of footage.

    Amy Green

    June 25, 2010 at 15:32

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