Bad 25.. Unreleased Content Review

Share Button

It’s out in some countries, and due out shortly in others. The 25th anniversary commemorative re-issue of Jackson’s 1987 “Bad” album contains some fantastic bonus material, including a collection of never-before released demos from the preliminary Bad recording sessions. Below I give my thoughts on some of them…

Don’t Be Messin’

The song that never died, yet never got to live. According to Jackson’s collaborators, this tune had been on a behind-the-scenes journey of evolution for many years, being revisited numerous times since it’s conception during the Thriller sessions. Here we get the version as it stood during the “Bad” sessions, according to the Estate. Jackson’s long-time engineer Bruce Swedien referred to the track as one of his finest works, but I’d have to disagree respectfully. In my opinion it’s far from Jackson’s best – in fact, it’s one of the few tracks of his that I found difficult to get into. To be fair, that’s partly because since hearing the track back in early June I’ve not played it all that often. I wasn’t even going to listen to it before giving my thoughts in this space, but I did, and I’m glad. It’s funky bossa nova flavour has grown on me, although overall it lacks punch. “Bridge! Da, da, da da.. da da da da..”

I’m So Blue

All I know is, Ja da da da da da da. This one is gorgeous – a true buried treasure. Michael sounds happy and free as he ad libs a near lyric-less chorus that’s leaves me feeling like I’m floating through the air – as light as a feather. Michael might be “so blue”, but I’m not when listening to this track. I love it!

Song Groove (a.k.a Abortion Papers)

Funky as heck! I am into this one right from the start. Reminds me a lot of another unreleased track – Do You Know Where Your Children Are from the Dangerous sessions. In these tracks Jackson finds a way to deliver a highly confronting storyline in the most respectful, yet infectious way. The King of Pop’s musical genius and his awareness of society’s sometimes-silent issues exist in perfect unison. Where other artists may shy away from “going there”, Jackson shouts about it from the rooftops. It’s songs like these that make Michael Jackson a true superhero in my eyes.

Free

I have similar feelings about this one as I’ve seen my fellow fans express – it’s “nice”. Throughout the song I’m constantly reminded of other Jackson pieces. Early on I want to sing “She’s from a world of popcorn and candy”, which comes from a Thriller sessions track called Carousel. As the song progresses I can’t ignore the similarities between Free‘s “Yesterday is when I fell down…” and Elizabeth I Love You‘s “You know you were the victor and you earned the crown”.  I’m also getting a slight Fly Away vibe in certain moments. This is probably the weakest of all the unreleased content on Bad 25, but I don’t mean that as an insult to the song. Like I said, it’s nice.

Price of Fame

Structurally the sequel to Billie Jean, with Michael taking fictional advice from his “Father” this time, instead of his “Mamma”. Lyrically this song is very well articulated. The title tells you what it’s about, and the content includes haunting lines that detail the story of a man unable to escape the intrusive pursuit of those stalking him from every angle. Some might jump to claim that the song exudes expressions of paranoia, but this is the dark reality that Jackson had to deal with every day of his entire life. Towards the end of the track Jackson asks those envious of him to step into his shoes and get a taste of his blues. This was the price of his incredible, unrivalled fame.

Al Capone

Pure genius, and by far my favourite from the set. This track is the groundwork for what would ultimately become one of the King of Pop’s most iconic hits – Smooth Criminal. Lyrically Al Capone tells a slightly different story than Smooth Criminal, but the concept is the same. The instrumentation is very 80s and Jackson’s vocals are amazing, as always. This track could come out today and make an impact on radio, I believe, even if listeners can’t understand half of what Jackson is singing! While some of the newly released demos on Bad 25 showcase glimpses of Michael’s magic, this track is completely consumed by it – magic from beginning to end! I can’t believe Al Capone has remained under lock and key for so long, and I couldn’t be happier to have finally heard it. It’ll be enjoyed by fans around the world for many, many years to come.

Above: Fan made video for Al Capone. All material belongs to Sony Music Entertainment. Copyright infringement is not intended.

Share Button