Sunday, June 10, 2012

Rarities #50: Michael Jackson - Bad Longbox (1987)

Michael Jackson's landmark album Bad celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and like the Thriller25 album re-release a few years ago, it receives the same treatment with the Bad25 project. This time, it's even bigger and badder than before, and I'm glad the MJ Estate has gotten it right. It will be released worldwide on 18th September 2012.

You can view the whole suite of Bad25 products and pre-order your copy/copies here. I have already pre-ordered the Deluxe Collector's Edition, I Just Can't Stop Loving You 7" vinyl and Bad 25th Anniversary Picture vinyl!

If anything, Thriller25 was just a normal reissue of the Thriller album, with a few remixes by contemporary artists like Akon, and Kanye West, and a DVD of the music videos thrown in, nothing particularly exciting. But for Bad25, they have pulled out all the stops. And they have to, because this is the first reissue of an MJ album since his death. He is no longer around to promote it, so it has to be good, especially after the tepid response to the first posthumous release, the Michael album, and the Cirque du Soleil tie-up, the Immortal album.

The Deluxe Edition of Bad25 features 3 CDs, 2 collectible books and 1 DVD. The highlight is undoubtedly the DVD, which contains the legendary 16th July 1988 Bad Wembley concert in its entirety. This is the only official release of a full concert from the record-breaking Bad tour, and it is sourced from MJ's personal VHS copy of the show, which has since been restored and the audio quality enhanced. It is apparently the only known copy of the show to exist in the whole planet.

I have an unofficial DVD of the Bad concert that was recorded in Tokyo, but as the Tokyo concert happened during the very first leg of the tour, the setlist consisted of only a few songs from the Bad album, which had yet to be released at the time. By the time the Bad tour rolled into London, it was the full scale show with many of the new songs being performed. Among the 72,000 audience were Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The first CD is the remastered Bad album. No big deal, because the album was already remastered in 2001, together with Off The Wall, Thriller and Dangerous, to coincide with the release of Invincible.

The second CD contains previously unreleased material - demo versions of songs that made the Bad album as well as those that didn't, and remixes from internationally renowned DJs and producers. In the 2001 re-release, we already got Streetwalker, Fly Away and Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu, the Spanish version of I Just Can't Stop Loving You. The demos included in Bad25 have not been announced yet, so far only one song has been revealed - Don't Be Messin' Around. It's a funky song and it's quite nice, but honestly, not good enough to be included on the final Bad album. Likewise, no word yet on who will be contributing the remixes this time, but some rumoured names include Skrillex and David Guetta.

The third CD contains the audio of the Wembley concert, the first ever official live MJ concert CD to be released. Likewise, I have an unofficial live CD album of the Tokyo concert, as well as a bootleg one of the Dangerous tour. I think it would have been a great idea to have released the This Is It concert as a live CD too, because the musical arrangements were updated a great deal for that concert, and I thought MJ sounded great live too. Pity.

Anyway, it's shaping up to be a great reissue, and I'm honestly excited about it. Over the years, my appreciation of the Bad album has grown and I think despite its enormous success, it's been severely under-rated and not given enough credit, unlike Off The Wall and Thriller. In my opinion, Man In The Mirror, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal and Dirty Diana are among the Top 10 best MJ songs of all time.

To celebrate Bad25, here is the longbox of the original 1987 Bad album, still sealed. Like the Dangerous longbox, I didn't own it but it's a gift from a friend who thought I'd really appreciate this and gave it to me. Thanks so much, this is a real treasure.

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