6 October 2013

Michael Jackson - Bad

Whatever you may think of Michael Jackson the person, his music always had a different feel.  He has always been a slightly controversial figure with stories and rumours following him like a bad smell.  If the negative stories are true or not is not something I will be entertaining here mainly due to two reasons:  1) There is no way of knowing what was fact and what was fiction. 2) I don't want to be sued into next century.  You will be able to find out more yourself by looking at the various websites out there.  But we will look at this release from the form self proclaimed King of Pop from 1987.  This was seventh album from Michael Jackson and released five years after the world conquering 'Thriller'.  The hype surrounding this album was unbelievable, even by today's standards.  Nine singles were taken from this album over a two year period. It went gold and platinum around the world, as well as being a chart topper all over the planet.  To say it was one of the biggest albums of the 1980's.

Starting off with the title track it is designed to show that Mr Jackson is a bad-ass, no.....but no.  It is a nice pop song, but he is not showing him to be hip and cool.  It was a poor set of lyrics then, it is a poor set of lyrics now and it will continue to be poor afterwards.  Following up this is "The Way You Make Me Feel" one of the standard boy loves girl so he must share it with the world in the form of song.  For lots of people this is one of his best tracks; but not for me, I have never liked it from when it first came out and it is still the same.  So far, so poor - but it gets better from here on in.  Next up is one of the two tracks which were not released as a single "Speed Demon" and it has always baffled me as to why this was not released as a single compared to some of the other tracks on this album.  On the film 'Moonwalker', a clay animation Michael Jackson disguised with a rabbit's head is chased by some crazed fans who will not give him any space so he uses many way to escape them, the song is your standard 80's pop rock affair, lyrics about being a speed maniac and a crazy saxophone solo in the middle - what is there not to like here!!!

Coming hot on the heels of this is "Liberian Girl", which is another Jackson ballad, the difference here with "The Way You Make Me Feel" is that this one has a soul about it, with the slightly Caribbean feel and gentle music floating over the gentle words from Jackson.  Also, he keeps in the dramatic moments until the end of the song; which is the way it is supposed to be.  After this is the other non-single track off the album, a duet with Stevie Wonder called "Just Good Friends", not as strong as some of Jackson other duets but it is a good little number.  Following this is "Another Part Of Me" which again is a good song, albeit not very special in the great scheme of things.  After this though, it starts to get very interesting from here on in.  The next song up is "Man In The Mirror" which is one of Jackson's truly classic songs.  There are not enough words in my head to praise this song enough, it is one of my most favourite pop songs of all time, as fresh today as when I first heard it all this moons ago; truly spectacular.

Then you have "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" which was the first release from this album for Mr Jackson.  It is a strange song to choose as your opening moment for one of the most anticipated albums of the 80's; but they might have been going for the softly, soft approach.  It is another ballad to hold your lady tight, yada yada....but it is followed by one of those classic Jackson moments with the song "Dirty Diana".  This is a song about a man who is stuck in an affair and cannot get out of it (or groupies depending on how you look at it or what you read).  The guitar work was supplied by Stevie Steve who was the guitarist for Billy Idol and it is a great little riff which has been ripped off by the rest of the world for ages.

The last two songs on the album are two of my most favourite tracks on any pop album ever - "Smooth Criminal" and "Leave Me Alone".  The former was again used to great effect in the film 'Moonwalker' with Jackson being a gangster and doing that strange lean over dance move; it also helps that the song is really good as well.  Shame it was covered by Alien Ant Farm (shame more on me that I have a copy of that album somewhere, but let’s not focus on that). The later of these tracks was not release on the original vinyl version of the album and was a bonus track for the cassette and CD original pressings.  It was later included as a full track in later pressings.  The song (and the later video) is all about Michael Jackson dealing with all the negative press and stories that always followed him.  It is one of the best songs his ever made and whilst it is technically not an official 'Bad' track, it is my favourite from the album. So how has the album aged over the last 26 years - some of it is incredible awful, I really hate the first songs with more of a passion now than ever before, but the rest of the nine songs are of such a high quality that by the time you get to the end, you have quite forgotten about them.  It is a very good album, it is not the best album of the 80's but it is very good indeed.  

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

You can purchase one of the various versions of Bad from Amazon here

You can visit the Michael Jackson website 

You can listen to the 25th Anniversary version of the album 

Below are the videos for "Man In The Mirror" and "Leave Me Alone"

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