Today marks the five year anniversary passing of the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, who died on June 25, 2009.
I thought it would be suitable to evaluate his second posthumous album “Xscape” released on May 13, 2014.
L.A. Reid, chairman of Epic Records, curated the project. Reid along with producer Timbaland executive produced the album who appointed himself and a team of record producers (StarGate, Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon, John McClain, and Rodney Jerkins) to remix eight vault selected tracks chosen by Reid. Reid also features the eight original versions on “Xscape” deluxe version that I would highly recommend.
The eight songs are “Love Never Felt So Good,” “Chicago,” “Loving You,” “A Place With No Name,” “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Do You Know Where Your Children Are,” “Blue Gangsta” and “Xscape” originally recorded between 1983-2002. After hearing both versions, “Xscape” is one of the best Michael Jackson project since his 1991 album “Dangerous.”
I believe the producers did a magnificent job remixing Micheal’s song even the original versions are good, but here is my evaluation.
1) Love Never Felt So Good (Original) composed by Paul Anka & Michael Jackson (1983)
Love Never Felt So Good (Remix) Produced by John McClain & Giorgio Tuinfort
Love Never Felt So Good (Remix) featuring Justin Timberlake. Produced by Timbaland & Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon
The first single from “Xscape” a classic song plus all the versions were tastefully arranged. (5 stars)
2) Chicago (Original) composed by Cory Rooney.(1999)
Chicago (Remix) Produced by Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon
Original version reminded me of “Liberian Girl” from the 1987 “Bad’ Album but failed to make the 1999 Invincible album.
Remix version “J-Roc” brings the song to life with a funky synth bass. Nice groove. (4 stars)
3) Loving You (Original) composed by Michael Jackson (1987)
Loving You (Remix) Produced by Timbaland
Original version failed to make the “Bad” Album, smooth song; reminds me of “The Girl is Mine” off the 1982 “Thriller” album.
Remix version is one of my favorite songs on the project. Timbaland returns the song to life with orchestrated hits, piano and beats. Michael’s vocals are beautiful. (5 stars)
4) A Place With No Name (Original) composed by Michael Jackson, Dewey Bunnell & Dr. Freeze (1998)
A Place With No Name (Remix) produced by Stargate
Original version is a sample from the 1972 hit song “A Horse With No Name” by America.
Remix version is a revised cut from Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone’ from the 1987 Bad album. I like the original better largely because I have sentimental bonds with the rock group “America” I used to listen to their music as a kid plus Michael’s voice is incredible as always. (4 stars)
5) Slave to the Rhythm (Original) composed by L.A. Reid, Babyface, Darryl Simmons & Kevin Roberson (1991)
Slave to the Rhythm (Remix) produced by Timbaland
Original version didn’t make the 1991 “Dangerous” Album; however, I believe it would have been a hit. Good song.
Remix version- Another favorite. Timbaland straight proved why he’s one of the top dawgs in the music industry with the production and effects on this tune. Excellent song. (5 stars)
6) Do You Know Where Your Children Are (Original) composed by Michael Jackson (1987)
Do You Know Where Your Children Are (Remix) produced by Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon
The original bring back a slower version of “You Wanna Be Startin’ Something” off the 1982 “Thriller” Album
The Remix version has a futuristic kind of groove I favor the original version, but Michael’s lyrical content is what make this song a success. (A message to parents to be watchful over their children)
7) Blue Gangsta (Original) composed by Micheal Jackson & Dr. Freeze (1998)
Blue Gangsta (Remix) Produced by Timbaland
Original version didn’t make the 1999 “Invincible” record, but sounds like a syncopated “Smooth Crimnal” from the “Bad” Album.
Remix Version Timbaland adds his signature touch with his syncopated drums. Nice strings and horns. Funky groove. (4 stars)
8) Xscape (Original) composed by Michael Jackson, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III & LaShawn Daniels (completed in 2002)
Xscape (Remix) Produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins
Original version recorded during the “Dangerous” session. Just a standard Michael Jackson groove.
Remix version….”Darkchild” added extra bass foundation to the groove on top of “You Rock My World” sample…Nice dance track.
Recognized by many as the greatest entertainer that ever lived, Michael Jackson a true icon will forever be missed besides his music will always live on. “Xscape” is a classic example and I support this project to the fullest.
Michael Joseph Jackson
Copyright 2014 – Tony Johnson. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.