Bad 25 Box Set Content Revealed – My Thoughts

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Today, the contents of the 3 CD / 1 DVD “Bad 25th Anniversary” box set (being released by Sony Music and the Michael Jackson Estate) was made public – see here:

DISC 1
1. Bad
2. The Way You Make Me Feel
3. Speed Demon
4. Liberian Girl
5. Just Good Friends
6. Another Part Of Me
7. Man In The Mirror
8. I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
9. Dirty Diana
10. Smooth Criminal
11. Leave Me Alone

DISC 2
1. Don’t Be Messin’ Around
2. I’m So Blue (unreleased)
3. Song Groove (A/K/A Abortion Papers) (unreleased)
4. Free (unreleased)
5. Price Of Fame (unreleased)
6. Al Capone (unreleased)
7. Streetwalker
8. Fly Away
9. Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu (I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Spanish Version)
10. Je Ne Veux Pas La Fin De Nous (I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, French Version)
11. Bad (REMIX BY AFROJACK FEATURING PITBULL – DJ BUDDHA EDIT)
12. Speed Demon (REMIX BY NERO)
13. Bad (REMIX BY AFROJACK – CLUB MIX)

DISC 3
FULL CONCERT: Live at Wembley Stadium July 16, 1988

DVD
FULL CONCERT: Live at Wembley Stadium July 16, 1988
Plus BONUS tracks:
1. The Way You Make Me Feel (Performed at Wembley the previous night, July 15, 1988)
2. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You/Bad (Performed at Yokohama Stadium, September, 1987)

In a nutshell:

The first disc is the original album – 11 tracks at a grand total of 48 minutes.

The second disc includes unreleased demos, alternate versions and remixes.

The third disc is a “live album” taken from the performance Jackson gave at Wembley Stadium on July 16, 1988 – the same performance that will feature on the DVD.

Fans will finally have the privilege of hearing FIVE completely unreleased tracks from the “Bad” sessions – and this is great news. But as a fan that has a fairly good idea as to what material is available to the Sony and the Estate, I would’ve probably done a few things differently, if given the opportunity…

Michael Jackson is known to have been focused on creating art that was cutting-edge; ahead of it’s time. He continually pushed the boundaries in all things he did; be it fashion, music, film or live performance. Jackson was always looking to come up with the next idea, instead of following the latest trend. Travis Payne (Jackson’s ex-dancer and choreographer) once told of how Jackson had insisted on waiting years to commence work on the short film which would ultimately become “Ghost” – because the technology and effects he wanted to utilize for the piece had not yet been developed!

What has this got to do with the commemorative edition of an album and tour that came out 25 years ago? Everything!

Firstly, the DVD. Yes, DVD. Not Blu-ray… DVD!

It’s 2012. Technology is ever-changing. New ways of experiencing audio-visual materials are being developed, released, and are infiltrating the market. And just like DVD did to VHS, Blu-ray is replacing the DVD as the preferred medium though which physical home movies are viewed.

Jackson’s “Bad” album – which Jackson worked on for nearly five years – is one of the biggest-selling albums in music history. It’s success is quite extraordinary, shifting more than 45 million units worldwide over the past 25 years – approximately five million of which have been since his death three years ago! Accompanying the album was a 123-date world tour (Bad World Tour 1987-1989) and a plethora of revolutionary “short films”. The Bad era really is something to behold – and I believe it should be commemorated as such.

The Bad Tour performance given at Wembley stadium on July 16, 1988 is perhaps the most valued jewel in the Michael Jackson treasure chest. Finally, fans will get to experience the show in all it’s glory. However one sore spot with fans is that the show, which was filmed in high definition (but “can’t be located” due to sloppy archiving) is being presented not only on the dated DVD format, but in remastered VHS quality.

The sore spot for me however is not that we will see the show in remastered VHS – that I can live with as technology is fairly good these days and they should be able to polish it up nicely. What I am concerned about is that their decision not to utilize the Blu-ray format means fans will miss out on a host of other material which could have also been included.

Spike Lee has been slaving away, crafting what is said to be an “incredible” documentary on the Bad era. Had the Blu-ray option be exercised, the documentary could have also been included. So could have all of the above mentioned “short films” Jackson created for the songs from the “Bad” album. This is because Blu-ray discs are capable of holding a substantially larger amount of content. Blu-ray would appear the sensible choice as we transition from 2012 into 2013, and beyond!

And as for the CD content – I have the following thoughts.

It makes sense that the first disc contains the original album – 11 tracks. As mentioned at the top of this article, however, those 11 tracks only consume 48 of an available 77 minutes on the disc – that’s 29 minutes of unused space on disc one alone.

A past special edition of “Bad” (released in 2001) featured three additional tracks (“Streetwalker”, “Fly Away” and the Spanish version of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” – which all justifiably re-appear in the Bad 25 box set) PLUS commentary from the album’s producer; Quincy Jones. I believe they should have done something similar with the discs on the box set.

Most of the music on this album is previously released. There are only five tracks that fans are yet to hear. Moving some of the previously released tracks (such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph) to the first disc would open up space on the second disc for even MORE unreleased material.

Some fans will argue that the Estate and Sony need to hold onto at least SOME of the unreleased material for future releases, which is a fair point. But I would argue that a box set release of this magnitude, for an artist like Michael Jackson, simply MUST be complete. And that means including ALL (or as much as they can fit over the two discs) of the available, date-relevant material.

Disc two features the five unreleased tracks, but also includes remixes. Two of the remixes are by the same DJ, to the same song – “Bad” remixes by Afrojack (one of which features the producer/artist Pitbull).

Now, forgive me for being blunt, but the “Bad” Afrojack remix (which has already been released as part of a Pepsi promotion) is shit – in my opinion. Just one version of it is too much for this album, let alone TWO versions! There is also a remix of Speed Demon being included, by Nero.

If Sony and the Estate feel that remixes of existing tracks should be included, then why not include a remix that Jackson himself produced – the “Smooth Criminal Annie Mix” for example.

Sony and the Estate really need to think long-term, I believe. Now, in 2012, they might entice a few youngsters to give the album a go due to the Afrojack & Nero (never heard of him/her myself) remixes – but when this commemorative box set sits on shelves in 10, 15 or 20 years time, those remixes will only detract from the quality of what the set could have been. The “Smooth Criminal Annie” remix on the other hand is incredible, and was created by Jackson, Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien. A true testament to the “dream team”, as Quincy says.

Personally, I’d like to hear as many unreleased tracks as possible – as opposed to remixes. Shifting a few of the previously released tracks to disc one and removing the remixes would make plenty of space for another five unreleased tracks, at least – assuming of course that Sony and the Estate have access to these. Tracks like “Buffalo Bill” and “Chicago 1945” come to mind.

To conclude the article I will share what I personally would have liked to have seen included on Bad 25. Please feel free to share this article, and respond in the comments section below with your thoughts.

DISC 1
1. Bad
2. The Way You Make Me Feel
3. Speed Demon
4. Liberian Girl
5. Just Good Friends
6. Another Part Of Me
7. Man In The Mirror
8. I Just Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
9. Dirty Diana
10. Smooth Criminal
11. Leave Me Alone
Bonus tracks
12. Streetwalker
13. Fly Away
14. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (Spanish version)

DISC 2
1. Buffalo Bill
2. I’m So Blue
3. Song Groove (A/K/A Abortion Papers)
4. Cheater
5. Free
6. Price Of Fame
7. Al Capone
8. Chicago 1945
9. What You Do to Me
10. Hot Fever
11. Smooth Criminal (Annie Mix, from The Bad Mixes)
12. Bad (Extended Dance Version, from The Bad Mixes)
13. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (French version)
14. Don’t Be Messin’ Round

DISC 3
BAD TOUR – Live at Wembley Stadium July 16, 1988

BLU-RAY
BAD TOUR – Live at Wembley Stadium July 16, 1988
BAD 25 DOCUMENTARY – by Spike Lee
Bad (short film – long version)
The Way You Make Me Feel (short film)
Smooth Criminal (short film – long version)
Another Part Of Me (short film)
Man In The Mirror (short film)
Dirty Diana (short film)
Speed Demon (short film – from Moonwalker)
Come Together (short film – from Moonwalker)
Leave Me Alone (short film)
Liberian Girl (short film)

Bonus footage:
BAD 25 DOCUMENTARY: Outtakes/deleted scenes
The Way You Make Me Feel (Wembley Stadium, July 15, 1988)
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You/Bad (Yokohama Stadium, September, 1987)
Bad with Stevie Wonder (Brisbane Entertainment Centre, November, 1987)
The Way You Make Me Feel/Man In The Mirror (Grammy Awards, 1988)

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