Sunday, June 19, 2005

Rarities #5/Classics #2: Michael Jackson - Dangerous Collector's Edition 2CD (1993) [Updated]

In light of Michael Jackson's recent acquital, I shall highlight his Dangerous album, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. This special edition contains a bonus remix CD, and it is actually the Australian version of the album, released in 1993.

Dangerous was the album that got me hooked on MJ, and that was in 1993/4. As a result, I missed all the hoopla when MJ came to Singapore for the first time in 1993. The MJ craze in Singapore was at its peak then.

Anyway, Dangerous is one of my favourite albums for good reasons. Every track sounds so different from the other, and it still sounds fresh today. And the album sold by the truckloads back then. Ask the people around you: out of 5 of your friends, I'm quite sure at least 1 of them has the album.

Dangerous marked a departure for MJ as he parted ways with producer Quincy Jones, who produced his first 3 solo albums (Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad) under the Epic label. They were mega-sellers of course, and it was a gamble to leave all the success behind and venture into uncharted territory.

However, it was the start of a new decade, and the music landscape had changed. MJ needed a fresh sound so in came producer Teddy Riley to help execute the transition. Together, they wrote 7 of the 14 tracks.

The album opens with Jam, a funky and dancy number. There are few album openers that are as good as Jam. Most people would probably remember the video, in which MJ pitted against MJ. Michael Jackson versus Michael Jordan that is, two men at the peak of their powers, each defining their domains. It was a cool video and it was quite funny seeing the 2 MJs battling it out.

In The Closet was a lesser-known song but it is more famous for its video, which was directed by the late Herb Ritts, famous for his black and white work. MJ even teamed up with Naomi Campbell in this steamy video, and he sported a sleek ponytail and wore a singlet as well, a first.

Remember The Time is a groovy track and I especially love the last part of the song, where he ad libs some of the lines. The video is again, lavish, and it is one of his more under-rated videos. It featured an all-star cast of Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and Iman, a testament to his star power. The dance moves were great too.

Then there was Heal The World...the song that everyone knows how to sing along to. I'm not kidding, just ask anyone on the street to sing it and they will be able to, confirmed. It's simple and the melody is nice, pretty much in the vein of We Are The World, which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie in 1985.

Who Is It was released as a single only after the Oprah Winfrey TV interview, where he sang an a capella version of it. The demand from the public was so great that it resulted in the single's release, and the CD single even included a special a cappella intro to the song. The song is full of his trademark hiccups, but in this case, the hiccups are present in every line! Only MJ can pull off such a stunt.

Will You Be There was featured on the Free Willy soundtrack, and it opens with a 2-minute choral intro. There was even a one-and-a-half minute spoken outro at the end. It's one of my favourite MJ songs too. It is such a different song from the rest of the album that it really stands out.

Gone Too Soon was dedicated to Ryan White, who succumbed to AIDS at the age of 19. It is a beautiful song and it showcases MJ's voice as pure as it possibly can be. This song was also included in the tribute album to the late Princess Diana.

Dangerous, the title track, is MJ's coolest song, ever. Somehow it always reminds me of Terminator 2. Its metallic and clunky sounds just fit in with the image of the Terminator well, and that's saying something, since T2 is one of my fave movies too. To me, Dangerous is one of MJ's most under-rated songs.

Then there's the little hit called Black Or White...the other MJ song that everyone knows. It's an insanely-catchy song, with a little help from Slash of course. Who can forget that riff? The video, with his crotch-grabbing, caused a lot of outrage, but that was the whole point, wasn't it? Any publicity is good publicity. However, the more important thing is that the video pioneered the use of morphing technology, and MJ set the benchmark for revolutionary videos once again.

This is a superbly long entry because I simply can't tell you enough how great this album is. I'm biased of course, but everyone is bound to be biased when talking about their favourite stuff.

Dangerous is packed full of hit songs, and you really can't get a more diverse-sounding album than this. You can hear MJ's voice in many different shades and he sings in different styles. Not many singers have the ability to do this. He's a vocal chameleon.

Sadly, Dangerous was MJ's last great album. HIStory and Invincible had many good songs, but there were plenty of filler as well. But given his talent, there is no doubt he can bounce back and produce another hit record. He just needs to find the right producer. The Neptunes would be cool.

Everything about the Dangerous album was cool: the artwork, the videos, the tour and the songs. This is one album you really ought to buy, if you don't own it already.


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