Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. As the world reflects on the two-year anniversary of the loss of the King of Pop, we take a look at some of Michael Jackson's most accessible vault material and envision a simple way of getting some of that material into the awaiting arms of the public.
It's hard to believe Michael Jackson's been gone two years this Saturday. We've all mourned together, and we've all watched with varying degrees of interest the catalogue material that Universal and Sony have each put out. We've had our copies of This is It and Michael and Vision in our possession, and we wonder what's next to come from the vaults. (Smart money would be on a soundtrack to the upcoming MJ/Cirque du Soleil attraction.)
There's been plenty of speculation about what one might add to reissues of Off the Wall or even Bad or Dangerous. (While a third Thriller reissue would strike many as overkill, I think there's enough material to provide for a Pet Sounds Sessions-esque box set.) Naturally, a discussion would hinge on what's in the vaults versus what might be lurking around on long-out-of-print singles or videos. I'd like to present a look at the latter, namely, the first album in which Jackson seemed on board with extended mixes for vinyl singles.
After the jump, let's have a listen to some of Michael Jackson's remixes to Bad - including a couple of neat surprises!
Bad is a hell of an album by anyone's standards, and certainly an intriguing listen as a Michael Jackson LP. It's very much Thriller on massive steroids, obsessively, sometimes brilliantly calculated. In various territories around the world, all but one of the 11 tracks that made the album were released as singles; in the U.S., seven of them were Top 20 hits and five of them were consecutive chart-toppers.
With an increased emphasis on the single in and of itself, Bad's singles would have to offer something to the listener. While Thriller's "The Girl is Mine" featured a rare non-LP B-side for the performer ("Can't Get Outta the Rain," a remixed breakdown sequence of Michael's "You Can't Win" from 1978's The Wiz) and both "Billie Jean" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" had slightly extended 12" remixes, Jackson and Quincy Jones never consciously catered to the dance floor - outside of the inherent ass-shaking nature of their songcraft. Bad, however, was another story; every 45 had its own unique mix or edit, giving fans some rich table scraps to gnaw on. (Many of those versions surreptitiously supplanted the original album mixes on pressings of Bad; current CD copies still lack the exact, original LP mix. That's another Reissue Theory post in and of itself.)
The remixes for Bad are very much a product of their time: extra breakdowns, vocal ad-libs, the occasional paring of a song down to its rhythmic roots. There isn't much in the way of extra overdubs or drastic reconfigurations - just good, danceable beats. That makes it strange, then, knowing how hard they are to find on CD.
The first appearance of all the Bad mixes in one spot was a rare 1988 promotional CD that combined many of the 7" and 12" mixes on one disc. Every 12" A-side later appeared on the expensive 2006 box set Visionary: The Video Singles, and another rare mix (the "'Annie' Mix" of "Smooth Criminal") was released as part of a digital EP in the U.K. to promote the set. Our theoretical compilation - ideal for a digital release, the better to save room for outtakes on any possible reissue of Bad - collects all those 12" mixes with the harder to find dub remixes that came with every 12" single. (A few singles had a cappella and instrumental tracks, but including everything on such a compilation would likely be considered overkill, if not by fans then certainly by the label.)
We did, however, manage to dig one thing from the ether: an extended rough mix of "Leave Me Alone," Bad's CD bonus track and an underrated groove from the era. It's unknown if this mix was considered for 12" inclusion or just a rough cut of the original version, but one thing's for sure: including this on a commercial release would require a significant editing job from its 15-minute length. (The morbidly curious, however, can enjoy the whole thing by clicking on the link below.)
Michael Jackson, Bad: The Remixes (Epic/Legacy - a similar limited CD was released as The Bad Mixes - Epic ESK 1215MC, 1988)
- Bad (Extended Dance Mix with "False Fade")
- The Way You Make Me Feel (Extended Dance Mix)
- Another Part of Me (Extended Dance Mix)
- Smooth Criminal (Extended Dance Mix)
- Bad (Dub Version)
- The Way You Make Me Feel (Dub Version)
- Another Part of Me (Dub Version)
- Smooth Criminal (Dance Mix - Dub Version)
- Leave Me Alone (Extended Version)
- Smooth Criminal ("Annie" Mix)
Tracks 1 and 5 from Epic 12" single 49-07462, 1987
Tracks 2 and 6 from Epic 12" single 49-07487, 1987
Tracks 3 and 7 from Epic 12" single 49-07855, 1988
Tracks 4, 8 and 10 from Epic 12" single 49-07895, 1988
Track 9 previously unreleased
A great idea; however, most of these have already been issued commercially issued on CD. What I'd like to see is the remix radio edits. All of these but "Leave Me Alone" had promo CDs that contained the remix edits... these are what a lot of us heard on the radio.
Further, all the 45 singles for the "Bad" album were remixes except for "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Many have shown up on various Michael Jackson compilations, but not all; some were even swapped out on the "Bad" CD. (Dirty Diana is one that comes to mind.)
Other than the dub versions, the Leave Me Alone mix and the Annie mix, all the tracks can be found on the special deluxe 3-disc UK edition of "King of Pop".
Where did you find the Leave Me Alone mix?
http://web.archive.org/web/20080619233406/http://www.platinumart.f2s.com/MJCD/lmasamp2.html#front - an umreleased in-house sampler disc
I think this is would be an excellent idea for a special expanded deluxe edition of Bad. Include the original album and then the remixes and possibly some in-the-vault material from the recording sessions. Looking forward the Off The Wall reissue and the 30th anniversary of Thriller.