Most helpful critical review
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
For die-hards only
on August 4, 2009
As a huge MJ fan, I do own this CD and enjoyed hearing these mixes. Not for the reasons we are supposed to buy the CD for, however. After all, it is not news that Michael Jackson was an extraordinary singer, and these mixes don't make his vocals shine any differently than they do on the original, fuller mixes. Rather, I enjoyed hearing these versions for how they bring out some of the nuances that are harder to hear in the original versions, as well as for the use of some alternate takes and endings.
The songs selected here are not mixed in a consistent way; that is, some have essentially no drum or rhythm tracks, others include congas and shakers, and in "Ain't No Sunshine" there is the underlying bass drum with occasional snare rim shots which seem as though they tried but could not entirely eliminate. Some songs include string arrangements, some don't. Some songs retain backup vocals, some don't.
Somewhat misleadingly, not all of the songs are simply the original well-known versions minus most of the instrumentation. Several songs contain extended, unnecessarily repeated or previously unheard fade-outs ("Who's Loving You", "ABC," "I Want You Back," and "I'll Be There" which has an oddly edited ending), while "We've Got A Good Thing Going" is a COMPLETELY different (and much less desirable) take than the original version. Also, "With A Child's Heart" contains a different intro than the original version and "Got To Be There" contains extra backing vocals that were edited out of the original.
The collection starts out very promising, though. The mix on opener "I'll Be There" demonstrates what could have been a great idea; the vocals here are among young Michael's gentlest and most touching, and the mostly acoustic arrangement fits very well in this "stripped" form. "Darling Dear" is also a standout, though perhaps as much for Michael as for what is regarded as one of the best bass lines ever, which at times takes front and center here (but that's not a bad thing--it's amazing!). At just 38 minutes, I wouldn't spend much money on this. The originals were pop-soul perfection as it is. But find it cheap, used, or free and it's worth a listen.