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101 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books Ever Written on Michael
As a passionately devoted Michael Jackson fan (I was blessed enough to have been able to attend his memorial at the Staples Center), and as a musician and fellow published writer, there are many things I could say about this book. But I think the main thing that needs to be said is that in writing a book that focuses on Michael's work rather than attempting to dissect his...
Published on October 22, 2011 by Rebecca Rockwell

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars pretty good, but several baffling errors
I really should give this book 3 stars because yes I enjoyed reading it very much. But I'm giving it 2 stars for now, so I'll have some "wiggle room" in case the author fixes some of the embarassing factual mistakes in the 2nd edition, then I'll add another star or two to my review at that time. While I had fun reading the book, the latter half especially seemed to...
Published 21 months ago by DJ MichaelAngelo


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101 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books Ever Written on Michael, October 22, 2011
By 
Rebecca Rockwell (Carpinteria, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
As a passionately devoted Michael Jackson fan (I was blessed enough to have been able to attend his memorial at the Staples Center), and as a musician and fellow published writer, there are many things I could say about this book. But I think the main thing that needs to be said is that in writing a book that focuses on Michael's work rather than attempting to dissect his personal life, Joseph Vogel has, I feel, more accurately and honestly captured who Michael was than any tawdry or dirt-dishing biography ever has or could. Michael WAS his music, and the music was Michael. It's time we all took a minute to give the man's unquestionable musical genius some credit without picking apart every scandalized lie he was beaten down with in the press. This book makes the reader remember just WHY Michael was the one and only King of Pop; unfortunately it also makes his loss all the more painful and deeply felt. We as fans lost a genius singer, songwriter, musician and dancer; the associates interviewed in this book lost a mentor, teacher and FRIEND. Thank you, Mr. Vogel, for writing a well-written, well-crafted and thorough book that should have been written years ago, and for presenting it in a way that makes it easier for people to understand a man who was so greatly misunderstood in life. I wish Michael were still alive to appreciate the gesture. He would have loved this book!
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46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a great book focusing on MJ's music, October 21, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
There are so many books talking about Michael Jackson but very few are focusing fully on his music. Michael Jackson is an artist which people tend to forget. This book reminds people about this fact and focus only on his music and creating process. The pictures and printing are all nice. Most important, it gives lots of information about MJ's records as solo artist. For all time, I always wanted to find a book that will analyze MJ's songs. This is the book I was looking for for so long. I just wish that MJ actually can saw this published when he was alive. People should really go back an relive MJ's music and cherish his genius. For MJ fans, this is a must buy. For general public, it tell you the Michael Jackson as a professional artist.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book, October 22, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
I love this book, it takes you through a journey that allows you to see the creative process that Micheal goes through to write his music.
It is an intellectual book about the mans music.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening and Definitive, October 24, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
Michael Jackson is on record as saying he attempted to fuse his soul to his music in an effort to escape death. What better way then to understand the man than through his music? Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson does just that, focuses on the inspiration, creation, reaction and historical context of Michael Jacksons considerable library of music. I think this is the first time that anyone has shone such a finely tuned light on the subject that made the world fascinated with Michael Jackson in the first place.

Whether you're a dyed in the wool fan, a musician, or just someone curious about music this will make fascinating reading. Joseph Vogel walks readers chronologically through Michael Jackson's albums first covering the album as a whole before discussing each song individually. Mr. Vogel's research includes interviews with technicians and musicians who worked with Jackson who provide insightful glimpses into the creative process. The work even includes information on a number of unreleased songs from Jackson as well as his posthumously released material.

Undoubtedly this is the definitive book on Michael Jackson's music and therefore of the man as well. It's easy to imagine perceptions being changed and reassessed from the analysis and discussion in this comprehensive and respectful work. A treasure trove that should not be missed.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a great book about MJ, October 25, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
I just finished the much-awaited book Man In The Music. It was a pleasure to read. Mr. Vogel did a fantastic job of interpreting Michael's albums and his musical career. I believe this will long be a reference work, and hope its success will encourage other music critics to join the discussion about Michael's genius. With Mr. Vogel's help I happily revisited most of MJ's songs. I recommend this book highly to anyone who is ready to hear the truth about the King of Pop's astounding work.
If I have one criticism, it is that even with his best intentions Mr. Vogel sometimes gets caught up in tabloid speculations masquerading as facts. I wish he hadn't included Taraborrelli's interpretation of events, but even so, I'd say 98 percent of Vogel's opinions and critiques are right on. It can't get much better than that.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joseph Vogel Returns the Conversation to Jackson's ART ~ and BRILLIANTLY!, October 18, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
Scholars, fans, and even on-the-fence doubters will find Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson by Huffington Post writer Joseph Vogel, not only an enthralling read, but a gateway into a revised perception of one of the most mysterious and massively influential artists of our time. This is definitely not another run of the mill sensationalist work.

Vogel skillfully guides the reader through the remarkable chapters of Jackson's professional career, fully capturing the cultural vibe of the `80s and `90s, while analyzing the particularities of Jackson's creative process from inception to aesthetic fulfillment. It seems the author desires to move beyond exclusively "preaching to the choir" of Jackson's loyal fan base, and has an even more expansive and restorative intention in mind.

Vogel's narrative unfolds in a unique album-by-album mode, so Jackson's career is revealed through intricately woven stories that are chronologically linked with the creation of his music. This odyssey reminds one of a mythic "hero's journey," as it evokes the visceral emotion of artistic conquest. Throughout the process, Vogel explicates Jackson's music, performance art, cinematic short films, and aesthetic incarnations, as well as exploring Jackson's myriad eclectic influences.

The book's success is due, in large part, to a trilogy of strengths the author possesses as an academic scholar and also a writer on popular culture. Vogel manages to fuse a penchant for research with an engaging gift of journalistic storytelling. Rare, however, is the sense of spiritual exegesis he also provides. This literary alchemy gives the reader an entirely fresh and valuable comprehension of Jackson as a culturally transformative artist. Vogel's book also illuminates the voluminous breadth, depth and influence of his artistic oeuvre.

The reader experiences firsthand the gentle singer-songwriter's coming of age, his groundbreaking musical prowess, and his emergence as a humanitarian emissary for the disadvantaged and alienated. We are reminded that Jackson (a voracious reader of Emerson) was a transcendental visionary who called for healing the world through compassion, community, and environmental stewardship.

The author offers a Joycean sensibility as he paints his archetypal "portrait of the artist as a young man" with a discerning eye. Vogel irrevocably raises the bar for future critical analysis of Jackson's art and cultural import, as he portrays his subject as an artist of stature amidst a constituency of the most influential and prescient artists of all time. One hopes the sincerity of Vogel's efforts will prompt inchoate scholarship on this subject to burgeon.

Vogel's personal interviews document the rich and sundry details offered by a plethora of Jackson's musical collaborators, technical producers, and artistic associates. These remembrances add surprise and synchronicity to the more familiar aspects of Jackson's complex life history. Included among the recollections are those of musical giants Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Teddy Riley, Bruce Swedien, Rodney Jerkins, Buz Kohan, Brad Buxer and many others.

Vogel, a Huffington Post writer on politics and popular culture, is also a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester where his scholarship focuses on 18th century poets Blake and Wordsworth. Since he emerges out of an academic perspective on the history of literature and the arts, he is able to credibly position Jackson amidst a much broader contextual background than the many apocryphal works by authors who leapt too eagerly onto the greed-bandwagon following the artist's untimely death.

It is interesting to note that Vogel began research for this book almost six years ago. This was during a time when Jackson was often treated by publishers and much of the public as a social leper. Vogel wanted to correct what he perceived as a terrible injustice and return the conversation to the genius of Jackson's art and his global transformative cultural import.

Vogel later made a conscious choice to refrain from publishing his material immediately following Jackson's death. Hence, his biography includes analysis of Jackson's posthumously released works, as well as reflections on the nature of the artist's ultimate legacy. Vogel's insight and impeccable research do much to relieve the ignominy this artist suffered in life from a rapacious media.

Vogel utilizes a Picasso-like construct in his ability to see his subject from multiple angles simultaneously, thereby rendering a multidimensional portrait. Formulaic tabloid stereotyping and long-standing racial binaries are finally exploded and cast aside. Vogel's readers will experience Jackson anew as a fine artist, cultural troubadour, and shamanic performer, because he is perceived through a lens that clarifies instead of mystifies.

Perceptive, metaphoric, and humane, Vogel's Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson is certainly the defining biographical work to date regarding this artist. The revelatory nature of Jackson's art, and Jackson's under reported international initiatives for social justice, surely deserve this long over due literary retrospective.

The book's stunning photographs make this volume attractive to appreciators of all art genres. It is especially meaningful to note the author has dedicated his book to Jackson's three children. One imagines they will be grateful, for Vogel offers respect and appreciation to the father they loved.

Constance Pierce, New York, October 18th, 2011
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY!, October 25, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
Finally an academic, comprehensive book about Michael Jackson's music and artistry. This book focuses big time on the music, providing a chapter for each solo album. It reviews the process for making each album, and each individual song as well. Vogel's book is a great academic achievement. Michael was very dedicated to his work and craft, and this is the first book that really goes behind the scenes and provides some insight into how he developed each song. There are a few books that analyze his music, but they usually stop with Bad or Thriller. However, Michael's music from 1990 and later was quite different, and in many ways broke barriers in content and social messaging. This is the first book to really delve into those later years. I can see this becoming a textbook for future Michael Jackson "degrees".
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a book that focuses on the genius!, November 4, 2011
This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
Nearly every book that has been written about Michael focused on the controversies of his personal life and were often covered in very reductive, superficial ways. This book is finally one about the music and the genius.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unearthing the truth about Michael Jackson and his music, November 3, 2011
This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
I felt like an amateur archeologist who donning my iconic Harrison Ford hat, came along for an adventurous dig in a modern `valley of the king.' Joe Vogel is a guide to unearthing `marvelous things' from within a more modern tomb of work all but buried under the shifting sands of tabloid opinion and caricature. He reveals treasure in that previously desert landscape revealing a fountain of information in this refreshing definitive work examining Michael Jackson's musical legacy.

I didn't know I thirsted for this amazing knowledge and understanding of a confusing and confounding man who was both iconic figure and sculptor of contemporary history--until I was quenched of it by Joe Vogel. The story of Michael Jackson, ever a mystery, remains unsolved and unresolved for many. This book is the answer to that question that modernity may not realize it has asked: "Who was this man, this Michael Jackson?" Man in the Music answers that perhaps unvoiced but haunting question.

Similarly to Tutankhamen, this excavation of treasure hidden in plain sight in the landscape of music royalty ironically parallels the revealing of another historical mask in yet another time with another boy king. Ironic too, it "unmasks" the genius of Michael Jackson. The long dry spell ends with the excavation of a rich and opulent musical prowess and library. This heretofore unrevealed and buried treasure intrigues, baffles and boggles the mind. Joe Vogel shoulders our naiveté like a knapsack, shrugs and treks onward, a true tour guide and historian taking us to and far beyond the threshold of this trove.

Dusting off layers and layers of misconceptions and assumptions about the mystery man, Michael Jackson, he dares to reveal the shiny boy king and later, undisputed king of a musical genre. He helps us to remove the cobwebs and of indifference and assumption to unearth the real treasure beneath those descriptors of "icon" and "king of pop."

Anyone who reads this serious academic work, Man in the Music, will find it difficult to see Michael Jackson ever in the same way, and even more difficult to dismiss him as simply a "pop singer" or "entertainer" as much of the world did before. Jackson once said "I attempt to bind my music to my soul" and Joe Vogel shows us, in this epic tome, just how he did exactly that. Vogel reveals the soul of the soul of Michael Jackson.

This is not merely a simple biography or story woven to capitalize or celebrate a man in his time. This is a book for all time that tells a compelling story of genius and how it not only inhabits but drives a man. There is no doubt the reader, exhausted and satiated by the hard work of Michael Jackson and the equivalency by Vogel, will come away with a much different view of the music and the man, the twentieth century and even, perhaps, the world.

This is a work that will predictably stand for all time providing a scholar's view--ripe and juicy, of the man, the music and the creative artist who impacted a culture like no other. It speaks to the genius that informs it--in a striking body of work left behind by the twentieth century's iconic song and dance man.

Nothing is trite or contrived about Man in the Music. The depth of this work stuns as does the work ethic and genius of a man who was not recognized in his lifetime. It's an ancient myth and the old story of how genius is right before our eyes while we are so distracted by our own projections, that we lose sight of the gift given to enhance the times in which it was birthed and shared.

Vogel shows us not only how Jackson astounds and confounds, but how he views the world as broken and in need of reform while he begs the culture to fix it. Jackson pushes, he angers, he is sarcastic and ironic. Instead of making fun of the emotionality of Jackson and his music as others have in the past, Vogel examines and shows us how to embrace it. The contradictions of the man and the music are front and center in this work, not glossed over and avoided in favor of distractions or speculations of his personal life.

We are taken on an intimate journey through the art and deep into the mind of the artist. We learn of his prowess in musicality, the pathos that informs it, the intuition that accesses it, and the talent that conveys it. We hear from those who worked with Jackson and what they thought and what they learned as a result. We understand the man better through the process of the music that belongs to him and to the world. Beloved and mourned worldwide, we glimpse the reasons for this and for his iconic status.

This is not the perspective of a tabloidist or a fan, although it is obvious that Vogel admires Jackson's work; this volume is a thoroughly researched and thoughtful, as it turns out--history of an artist at his craft. It showcases a craft itself that moves beyond the mere visage of Jackson and his music and deposits us more awake yet spent, at the soul of each. We learn that classical music informed much of Jackson's craft at that relegating him to a definition of "pop artist" does not cover his body of work and the realization that Jackson's voice was truly an instrument capable of being not just a whole orchestra but a whole planet.

We hear from Jackson's contemporaries and collaborators and of the respect they held for the depth and height of his talent as musician and artist. We travel through his catalogue with a retrospective look at where and how his gift of music chronicles history and the times Jackson grew up in--that define the lives and times we all grew up in or may still be growing up in.

Vogel broadens our perspective and our world with this more-than-cursory glance and insider's look around Jackson's world of art and the world he and his music inhabited, the world it informed and the world it changed. By showing us the artiste` that we may have missed, Joe forces us to look not only at Jackson in a new way, but the world itself, and ultimately ourselves--to the place where we and the "Man in the Mirror" live. This itinerary is a journey and a deep excavation; I'm not sure any of us should miss this dig.

Review by: Rev. B. Kaufmann- Huffington Post blogger, Executive Writer: Voices Education Project, award winning author/writer, poet, minister and researcher. See: [...]
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Mr. Vogel for such a beautifully crafted book!, November 4, 2011
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This review is from: Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Hardcover)
Michael said in his 2007 Ebony Magazine interview that in order to escape immortality, he would bind his soul to his works. In essense, Michael Jackson is his music. His music is Michael Jackson. I tend to believe that the best way to learn about Michael is through his artistry. This book serves as a valuable guide that take the readers through a magical journey.

I just want to echo the reviews I have read here and add that this book enables me to feel and appreciate Michael's music with different perspective. I have probably listened to Off The Wall, Thriller, BAD, Dangerous, HIStory, Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible thousands of times. However, after reading this book, I'm able to discover details that I did't know before.

For Michael's fans, this book is a MUST. This book reminds us why we love Michael so much.

For general music lover, this book would enable you to see what an unique musical genius and a powerful artist Michael Jackson was.
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Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson
Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson by Joseph Vogel (Hardcover - November 1, 2011)
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