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Albums Reviews

Michael Jackson

[Three stars]

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Jan 27, 2011

This is not a Michael Jackson album. Jackson was one of pop’s biggest fussbudgets: Even when his songs were half-baked, the production was pristine. He would not have released anything like this compilation, a grab bag of outtakes and outlines assembled by Jackson’s label. And yet, it’s a testament to the man’s charisma that Michael can be compelling. Jackson gets songwriting credit on eight of 10 tracks, and they are recognisably Michael Jackson songs. ”˜Behind the Mask’ is a fiercely funky cousin to ”˜Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’’; the Lenny Kravitz-produced ”˜(I Can’t Make It) Another Day’ is a ”˜Dirty Diana’-esque dance-rock song that also features Kravitz on guitar. There are thrilling glimpses into MJ’s creative process ”“ check the snippet of him singing and beatboxing his idea for ”˜(I Like) The Way You Love Me’ ”“ but Michael’s most amazing moment is the Thriller-era ballad ”˜Much Too Soon.’ The song is full of guitars and strings, but all you really hear is that voice ”“ hovering between child and adult, between male and female, between mournful and ecstatic.

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