XSCAPE - Deluxe (Remastered) Michael Jackson
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- 1Love Never Felt So Good03:56
- 3Loving You03:16
- 4A Place With No Name05:35
- 5Slave to the Rhythm04:14
- 6Do You Know Where Your Children Are04:37
- 7Blue Gangsta04:15
- 9Love Never Felt So Good (Original Version)03:21
- 10Chicago (Original Version)04:44
- 11Loving You (Original Version)03:03
- 12A Place With No Name (Original Version)04:57
- 13Slave to the Rhythm (Original Version)04:36
- 14Do You Know Where Your Children Are (Original Version)04:40
- 15Blue Gangsta (Original Version)04:17
- 16Xscape (Original Version)05:44
- 17Love Never Felt So Good04:06
Info for XSCAPE - Deluxe (Remastered)
When it came to his music, Michael Jackson was never one to play it conservative. Each new album was a chance to surprise people: to introduce new sounds, new production, new collaborators. “I always want to do music that inspires or influences another generation,” said Jackson in his last major interview in 2007. “You want what you create to live.”
It is in this forward-looking spirit that Epic Records, in conjunction with the Estate of Michael Jackson, approached putting together a new album of previously unreleased songs by the King of Pop, entitled XSCAPE. A project overseen by music legend and current Epic Records Chairman and CEO L.A. Reid and carried out by world-class producers, including renowned studio veterans Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, John McClain and Stargate, the goal was bold, but straightforward: take some of Jackson’s best and most complete unreleased music and make it feel as new, as current, as fresh as if the artist was still with us.
Jackson had a habit of over-recording for albums; oftentimes this meant outstanding songs were left on the cutting room floor (“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,’” for example, was originally recorded during the Off the Wall era, but saved for Thriller; “They Don’t Care About Us” and “Earth Song” were originally recorded during the Dangerous sessions, but saved for HIStory). For Jackson, there could be a variety of reasons for leaving a song off a final tracklist. Sometimes he still wanted to let the song “speak to him” and try out different elements; sometimes, even though he loved the song as it was, he didn’t feel it worked with the rest of the material on an album; and sometimes it was just a practical matter of what could fit on a record or CD. Tracklist decisions were always difficult for Jackson and almost always came down to the last minute.
Jackson, however, frequently returned to tracks he liked on later projects, sometimes finding a “home” for them decades after they were first written and recorded. With this process in mind, Jackson’s Estate began combing through the artist’s vast vault in late 2012, looking for some of the strongest material the artist left behind. Working with longtime Sony A&R man, John Doelp, they eventually narrowed in on about two dozen tracks that spanned over two decades of Jackson’s career. After this preliminary pull, L.A. Reid listened to the material, often blown away by the quality of what he heard. For XSCAPE, Reid determined to only use songs that seemed mostly complete and that contained Jackson’s vocals from top to bottom. This was not merely a practical decision. Since Jackson often waited until the very end of a song’s creative process to lay down vocals, a complete vocal signaled to Reid that Jackson must have really loved these particular songs.
As strong as the songs were, however, Reid believed that they deserved to be heard by more than just Jackson’s most die-hard fans and began considering ways that would allow them to reach an even wider, contemporary audience. The album’s lead producer, Timbaland, was one of a handful of producers Reid believed had the gravitas, depth and range to creatively engage with Jackson’s work. Additional producers include John McClain, Rodney Jerkins, Jerome “Jroc” Harmon and Stargate.
The result of these posthumous “collaborations”—XSCAPE—features some of Jackson’s strongest unreleased work, dusted off and polished with state-of-the-art production.
For the serious Michael Jackson fans, the Estate of Michael Jackson and Epic Records offer a deluxe edition of the album, which includes a collection of the original recordings. The primary vision for XSCAPE, however, was to “make it new” (to adopt the modernist credo) to accentuate the music’s relevance to the here and now.
The decision to “contemporize” Jackson’s music is not only based on the artist’s desire to remain on the cutting-edge, but also on the premise that one way to keep great art alive and relevant—from adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays to hip hop samples of James Brown—is by creatively connecting it to the present.
Posthumous albums, of course, are different than albums an artist finishes and releases while at the helm. Michael Jackson’s official canon—the albums, performances and short films he oversaw and realized during his lifetime—is complete. That catalog remains one of the most impressive and durable in the history of music, still inspiring new generations of fans and artists alike.
“Contemporizing” Jackson’s songs, then, is a kind of parallel track in keeping Jackson’s legacy thriving. It is not about replacing what Jackson left behind or even about finishing a specific blueprint; without the artist here, that is impossible. Rather, it is about creatively connecting with his work, about finding new and compelling ways to capture the essence, the excitement and the magic that is Michael Jackson.
The title XSCAPE was chosen for numerous reasons: 1) it continues Jackson’s tradition of giving albums one-word titles (i.e. Thriller, Bad, Dangerous); 2) it shares its name with a song on the album, and 3) it communicates something important about the content of the album. Throughout his career, Jackson frequently used the term “escape” and “escapism” to describe his art. It was a term critics often misunderstood as meaning superficial entertainment detached from real-world problems. Yet for Jackson, as the songs on this album (and the rest of his catalog) indicate, it was not an aesthetic of evasion. Very few popular artists have tackled the range of subject matter of Michael Jackson. Escape, for Jackson, was about transporting his audience (and himself) into different stories, different spaces, different sounds and emotions; it was about drawing contrasts between the way things are and the way things could be, between our realities, fears and desires. This was the “great adventure,” as Jackson put it in one of his final rehearsals for This Is It in 2009, that escaping into great art and entertainment invited.
With one of the highest grossing tours of all time (Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour by Cirque du Soleil) and the hottest residency show in Las Vegas (Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil), Michael Jackson’s popularity shows no signs of diminishing. The current musical landscape is a veritable homage to the King of Pop, from Pharrell Williams to Bruno Mars to Justin Timberlake to Daft Punk. Now, with XSCAPE, music fans around the world will get to hear eight brand new, fully updated songs from the artist who inspires them all.
born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, spent nearly his entire life as a public performer. At age four he was singing with the family group; a charismatic bundle of energy who was musically wise beyond his years, he soon became their lead vocalist and front man. Onstage, using every ounce of his old-school training, he modeled his dance moves and singing on James Brown and Jackie Wilson, and portrayed a self-confidence that belied his shy, private personality.
The Jackson Five-Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon and Tito-signed to Motown Records at the end of 1968, and were immediately groomed for stardom: “They’ll have three No. 1 records in a row,” Motown founder Berry Gordy famously announced before any records were released. In fall 1969 they exploded with “I Want You Back,” one of the greatest singles in pop history, and it was the first of four consecutive no. 1 pop hits, as “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” followed. Flip sides such as “Who’s Lovin’ You,” a knockout performance by Michael with all the hallmarks of a great soul artist, illustrated his remarkable maturity.
It seemed inevitable that young MJ would spin off as a solo artist. The aching ballad “Got To Be There” was his first solo single, released October 7, 1971, and it shot to no. 4 on both the pop and R&B charts. His debut solo album Got To Be There was released in January 1972 and reached the pop Top 20. The LP also spun off “Rockin’ Robin,” a cover of a fifties smash that hit no. 2 pop and R&B, and “I Wanna Be Where You Are” (top 20 pop/no. 2 R&B).
In July 1972 Michael sang “Ben,” the title song from a movie about a trained rat, and it became his first solo pop no. 1. Michael’s emotional, sincere performance helped the song win a Golden Globe Award, and it was nominated for an Oscar®. The stylistically rich Ben album showcased Michael’s interpretive skills: the tracks included a moody cover of the Stylistics’ moody “People Make The World Go Round,” which in later years became a favorite of hip-hoppers; the happy, funky “We’ve Got A Good Thing Going;” and a nod to the great jazz singer Jimmy Scott, a man-child of another era, with a cover of Scott’s signature song “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool.”
MJ was still only 14 years old.
Music & Me, released April 13, 1973, was Michael’s next album-a push towards more adult contemporary pop like “Ben,” which backfired commercially, although it contains fine performances, including “With A Child’s Heart,” originally cut by Stevie Wonder, Motown’s sixties teen superstar, and a vocal version of “Happy,” the love theme from Lady Sings The Blues, the Gordy-produced film on the life of Billie Holiday released the previous that starred Jackson mentor Diana Ross.
Forever, Michael, released in January 1975, got things back on the R&B track. A more danced-oriented project that featured the return of Brian and Edward Holland to Motown, the LP hit the Black Album chart top 10, while its tracks “We’re Almost There” and “Just A Little Bit Of You” both peaked inside the R&B Singles top 10. In the two years prior, the Jackson 5, after a commercial lull, had been successful with dance tracks, particularly the smash no. 1 “Dancing Machine.”
Those four albums might have been the end of the story for Michael and Motown, as he and the group, sans Jermaine, left to go to Epic Records. Michael was 17 years old. While the group-now the Jacksons-kept the groove going, MJ set aside his solo career. He took up acting, memorably appearing as the Scarecrow in The Wiz with Diana Ross in 1978. He struck up a friendship with the film’s music producer, Quincy Jones and, in 1979, at age 21, MJ re-ignited his solo career, collaborating with Jones on Off The Wall. In the aftermath of its huge success, Motown issued the compilation One Day In Your Life, on March 25, 1981. Its title song-lifted from Forever, Michael-turned into a no. 1 hit in the U.K. and top 40 AC in the U.S.
Then came Thriller. The hits. The videos. The moonwalk on Motown 25. In May 1984 Motown released the LP Farewell My Summer Love, a batch of songs from the vault with contemporary overdubs; the title song went top 10 R&B. Two years later Motown issued Looking Back To Yesterday, a collection of more vault masters-some with the J5-that contained further unexpected gems.
Michael and his brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Michael went in as a solo artist in 2001. “He has transfixed the world like few entertainers before or since,” it says in his inductee biography. “As a solo performer, he has enjoyed a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Frank Sinatra.”
It was at Motown where MJ first bared his young soul and was set on his path to becoming the biggest pop star of our time. He died at age 50, much too young, on June 25, 2009. He is loved, he is missed. He is Forever, Michael. (Source: Universal Music)
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