4 of 4 thought this review was well written
# 202 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums
Michael Jackson was the lead singer of The Jackson 5 from 1970 at the age of 9 or 10 spawning 4 number 1s in a row- the most famous being I Want You Back and ABC, significantly knocking Let It Be off the number 1 spot. After their initial wild success the band didn't have has many big hits by the mid 1970s apart from Dancing Machine.
They reformed as The Jacksons with one brother replacing another as they moved from Motown to Epic where they were allowed more creative freedom. Michael began to pen the bands big hits by his late teens writting such classics as Shake Your Body, Can You Feel It, Heartbreak Hotel and the band were once again wildly popular though almost all the focus was on Michael. Michael had released some solo albums as a teenage with songs like Ben however his first proper solo album as an adult was 1979s Off The Wall. The album sold 19 million with its most notable hits Dont Stop Till You Get Enough and Rock With You, Michael writing the former and other tracks. It is now regarded as a classic by most critics.
Continuing his producing partnership with Quincy Jones Michael released an Thriller in 1982. Thriller became the biggest selling album of all time and still is today at about 60 million, way ahead of ACDCs Back In Black. The album, Thriller, contained 4 tracks written by Michael Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin Somethin' and mediocre The Girl Is Mine. Human Nature was other classic song. Altogther 7 of the 9 tracks were released as singles and all reached the top 10. Thriller, the song, also set the standard for music videos and is the most popular music video of all time.
Michael took 5 years to follow up Thriller, although he released a further Jacksons album Victory in 1984 and dueted with many stars like Mick Jagger on State Of Shock. He also co wrote and sung the We Are The World song for USA for Africa which is one the biggest selling singles ever. Bad was finally released in 1987- the follow up to the biggest album ever.
1. Bad- The title track and intro kicks off the album nicely, though perhaps not as likable as Wanna Be Startin Something on Thriller. The beat is very catchy and follows a 'how now brown cow' rthym. Some may find the chorus of 'I'm Bad' slightly laughable as Jackson attempting to state his masculinity was never going to be taken seriously. Interestingly the song was originally conceived as a duet with Prince, however Prince said he felt the song would be a hit without him and he was right- it was one of the albums 5 number 1s (another record). Overall theres not much wrong with this song (though I can understand some don't love the chorus)- 5/5
2. The Way You Make Me Feel- The second track is even better than the first and is among the albums finest in my opinion. Theres not alot to say about it really, its just a really upbeat song about expressing the way a girl makes you feel. A classic- 5/5
3. Speed Demon- Ok heres where the album dips slightly in quality though its only a short and quite minor dip. One of the albums few non-singles, Speed Demon is actually a good song with an interesting bass line and lyrics. The fasetto part at 1.39 is particularly superb. The songs only real fault is that it isnt as good as some of the big hits on this album. Good song- 3.8/5
4. Liberian Girl- Remains one of Jacksons least seen or heard singles and is generally the least popular song on the album. That is not to say its a bad song at all, the instrumentation is very interesting and different at the start. Credit to Jackson for doing something quite different on this song, though theres no real hook to the song. The chorus only gets going towards the end when Jacksons voice goes slightly higher. Not great, just ok, the only track I often skip on the album- 3/5
5. Just Good Friends (With Stevie Wonder)- The album really kicks back into gear with this one. This is a severely underrated song and probably could have been a single, its replay value though itsnt quite as strong as Man In The Mirror and the other strong singles though. This is a really upbeat, very 80s song and its awesome hearing Michael and Stevie Wonders voices together (perhaps the greatest, most distinctive pop vocalists of all time). The song also includes an organ solo by Wonder. I really enjoy this song and it was great to discover it after so long, marks off only cause its replay value isnt as high as others- 4.2/5
6. Another Part Of Me- Another single and another pretty great song with a fast catchy verse and a very distinctive build up to the chorus. The spacey and united lyircs are due to the fact that it was on Captain Eo a film/ theme park ride. Not my favourite but none the less a classic- 4.5/5.
7. Man In The Mirror- This is probably the best song on the album and was certainly the most popular. It was also one of the 2 songs not written by Jackson (the other being track 5). The combination of uplifting lyrics and a gospel style chorus make for a very inspiring, beautiful song about thinking about who you are and your actions. Superb- 5/5.
8. I Just Can't Stop Loving You- Another duet and the lead single from the album. Siedah Garret is his duet partner and also the writter of the Man In The Mirror. This is not one the most fondly remembered songs on the album but Ive come to appreciate it more as I listen to it, especially the instrumentation at the start. Its a nice song really, the lyrics are abit soppy but still it adds something different to the album and the vocals are top notch- 4/5
9. Dirty Diana- This is the 'rock' song on the album, following on from Beat It on Thriller. Its quite a different song though, very haunting in way. Its about groupies and possibly Diana Ross who Jackson knew as a child. Princess Diana apparently said it was her favourite song too! Steve Stevens (Billy Idol guitarist) does the solo. I know most people here are rock fans mostly so this song may really appeal to alot of people though its not quite as strong as Bear It. Another Number 1 and another of my favourites- 5/5
10. Smooth Criminal- One of the most famous songs on the album though not the best at all. The beat is really distinctive and the lyrics are very evokative. Very much superior to the lame AAF cover. Not as strong as tracks 1,2,7 and 9 but not much wrong here- 4.5/5.
11. Leave Me Alone- This is actually a bonus track in order to entice people to buy the CD version of the album rather than the 10 track tape version. It shows too in my opinion. Whilst it is enjoyable, its not really as strong as most of the other tracks on the album and feels abit dated in a way. The animated video however was one of the Jacksons best videos ever. Treat it as a bonus track and its good fun but Smooth Criminal is the strong closer- 3.5/4.
Almost every track is superb, particularly Man In The Mirror and The Way You Make Me Feel, bar Liberian Girl, Leave Me Alone and possibly Speed Demon- though even these tracks are actually quite good songs. I know I may seem quite generous in my ratings but these songs really do deserve them. There really arent many albums as enjoyable as Bad and I listen to alot of music- rock, jazz, pop, soul etc. Id rank it 3rd out of Michael Jacksons solo albums behind Thriller and Dangerous (possibly on a par with Dangerous actually).
The Way You Make Me Feel
Man In The Mirror
Bad went on to sell about 27 million, making it at the time the second biggest album ever behind Thriller. Now its about the 23 biggest seller I think. He wrote 9 of the 11 songs himself compared to about half of Thriller. Critically the album was mostly seen as a decent follow up to Thriller but not really as strong in the long term. This is an opinion I agree with. It is a classic album and almost never puts a foot wrong but it just doesnt feel quite as good as Thriller and hit the same highs. It hasnt really dated much at all though as much of the 80s pop music has and contains more classics than most stars have in their Hits collection so in its own right it is actually a classic and an essential purchase to any serious music fan.
(Everyone knows the man has become abit of a joke these days in his weird habits and biazarre look but there is a reason he is the biggest solo star of all time and second only to The Beatles as the biggest artist ever- he produced some of the best pop music ever.)
BAD SPECIAL EDITION-
This is the only version of the album now available and coprimises of the same 11 tracks along with 2 cut tracks- 'Streetwalker' and 'Fly Away' and a spanish version of 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You'. 'Streetwalker' is a real gem and probably could have made it onto the album, 'Fly Away' on the other hand is less good but still worth hearing. The special edition also includes about 15 mins of the always aimable Quincy Jones discussing the album and its production. Another reason to rediscover this classic pop album.