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Michael Jackson's Dangerous (33 1/3)
Michael Jackson's Dangerous (33 1/3)
by Susan Fast
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.30
50 used & new from $8.20

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, September 8, 2014
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I have always wondered how such songs as “Keep the Faith” and “Will You Be There” could fit into a theme that gave the "Dangerous" album its title. To me, they are deeply spiritual and more comforting than dangerous.
Along comes Susan Fast with her book in the 33 1/3 Series on the "Dangerous" album. Approaching it from a serious musicologist standpoint, she carefully dissects the album and explains for us non-musicologists what Jackson has done with the construction of each song, with the grouping of the songs, and with the themes that run through the album that support its title. She makes the case that the entire album is so constructed as to take us through the full range of human emotion while making a serious political statement, and believes that this album, rather than Off the Wall or even Thriller, is really his “coming of age” work. She shows how each song is perfectly placed within the album and related to the one that comes both before and after. This book is an outstanding work on this album; the author allows us to really hear the work through her ears…no easy feat.
Two small criticisms: She writes that the lyrics to the song, “Will You Be There” are reproduced in his book, “Dancing the Dream.” This statement is not entirely accurate, as the two versions are somewhat different, and the spoken closing of the song does not appear in the book. The other point is that she refers to a “motive” when I think she means “motif” and this became a bit distracting. But otherwise a most excellent book.


Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire
Michael Jackson, Inc.: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire
by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.94
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, July 3, 2014
Zack O'Malley Greenburg (ZOG) has done what I thought was impossible: written a book about business that was not boring. His dissection and analysis of Jackson's business ventures is compelling from the very start. Written as a financial biography, the author skillfully escorts the reader through Jackson's life and explains how he came to be such an astute businessman. A multimillionaire by the time he was twenty-one years old, Jackson made it his mission to learn everything he could about every aspect of the entertainment business. This hunger for learning made him the best at his craft but also a financial genius to be reckoned with. The author takes us through every step of this process without getting bogged down in minutiae. At the same time, he educates us about the complex, and often shady, business world that is the entertainment industry.
There are many aspects of the author's work to be commended, but one that stands out is his reliance on mostly primary sources...a strategy sadly lacking in much that is written about Jackson. ZOG seems to have left no stone unturned in his endeavor to paint as complete a picture as possible, and carefully documents his sources. As testament to his exquisite writing skills, the tale he spins is accomplished in less than 250 pages.
I could not put it down.


The Secret Gospel of Ireland: The Untold Story of How Science and Democracy Descended from a Remarkable Form of Christianity That Developed in Ancient Ireland
The Secret Gospel of Ireland: The Untold Story of How Science and Democracy Descended from a Remarkable Form of Christianity That Developed in Ancient Ireland
by Leo Behan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.59
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent storytelling of history, February 17, 2014
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In just 210 pages, the authors tell the story of Western Civilization from the 300's. They make the case that virtually all of the major components of our present civilization (not just churches, but higher education, forms of government, art, and our way of "doing" science) started back then with the monks in the Catholic church and their desire (and ability) to run things differently in Ireland, as opposed to the rest of Europe. It is a very enjoyable read, atypical of such books. I was amazed to learn that such a huge component of my daily life has been influenced by the developments that resulted from decisions in the very early Christian church.


March: Book One
March: Book One
by John Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.37
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, August 19, 2013
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This review is from: March: Book One (Paperback)
I ordered this book at the first opportunity. Congressman Lewis' story is told in comic-book style, and is engaging from the very first page. The use of flashback is a wise choice and helps the reader to connect the present to the past. Mr. Lewis, in telling his story to visitors to his office, takes us all the way back to his childhood to help us understand how he became involved in civil rights and how he came to meet other historical figures. Like other reviewers, I was left wanting more, and can't wait for the next two installments.
My one criticism is the print. In a number of places (bottom of p. 74, for example), some print is so tiny as to require a magnifying glass (and I do not have bad vision) and even then it is not clear. It's obvious there are words there, and if they are meant to advance the story, then they need to be legible. It's a shame for an otherwise excellent book, and I would hope the artist rectifies this situation in the upcoming segments.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2013 10:22 AM PDT


Art & Soul: A Spiritual Tribute
Art & Soul: A Spiritual Tribute
by Siren
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.16
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wanting more, August 15, 2013
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This lovely little book by Siren is full of copies of her drawings and paintings, with a few scattered poems. What her book lacks in breadth, it makes up for in depth. Readers will be enriched many times over, especially given that she is donating her proceeds to charity. Her poetry is in the tradition of Rumi or Hafiz, and overall, like any beautiful work of art, it only leaves us wanting more.


The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah"
by Alan Light
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.92
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, December 28, 2012
I first learned about this book on an NPR program: it immediately went onto my Xmas wish list. I knew from the very first hearing of the song "Hallelujah" that it was special, yet I couldn't quite put my finger on just what it was that made it so. I hoped Mr. Light's book would help me out in that regard. I was not disappointed.
Set aside for the moment that writing about any art or music cannot approach actually experiencing it. Such writing can, however, help us to more fully appreciate the experience. This book succeeds masterfully at that task. Clearly, the author has extensively researched his subject from its early beginnings to the present day. He acknowledges in a note to the Discography that not every recording of the song is mentioned, still one would be hard pressed to fault him on the thoroughness of his work.
He goes into great detail of many of the most noteworthy performances and recordings, and had me running to the computer to search out the different ones with which I was unfamiliar. While exploring the performances, he also has spoken with the artists who did the performing, which gives great insight into how they made the decisions they did regarding which verses to include and exclude. Even with the level of detail he provides, his book is a very easy read.
Just two of the best quotes from the book:
"It's quite possible, though, that no song has ever scaled those heights after such a long time, and then done it again and again, with little sense of either nostalgia or novelty, and somehow still managed to feel at once so familiar and so fresh." (p. 165)
"Yet as `Hallelujah proved itself to be just as powerful expressing triumph as it was expressing loss, or desire, or perseverance, history has seen this ambiguity turned into the song's great strength. Those who want or need it to serve as a hymn, a balm, can find that sense of soaring grace, and those who respond to its sense of struggle and confusion can present that as the song's backbone. There is no `right' way to sing `Hallelujah.'" (p. 188)
That last quote sums it up for me. Few songs can adequately cover such a range of human experience. Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is among those few, and Alan Light gives us many perspectives to consider in appreciating the song even more fully. If any book could possibly do justice to the song, Mr. Light's is surely it.


The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson
The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson
by Michael Bush
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $36.38
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique perspective, October 27, 2012
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Michael Bush's book was one that I could not put down. I also know my way around a needle and thread, and Mr. Bush's telling of his many years of designing and creating clothes for Michael Jackson kept me enthralled. He is truly an artist of the highest order. Making a garment for someone can be both challenging and rewarding, but to have to take into account the way that a person is going to move (read: dance!) in that garment, and get into or out of it quickly between sections of a performance, requires an entirely different set of skills that Mr. Bush describes in glorious detail. He takes us on a journey from precise measurement and pattern construction through fabric selection and traveling the world over to find just the right embellishments. He also shares some of the "tricks of the trade" that he used to create Michael's magic. The many full-color close-up photographs are simply breathtaking.
MJ fans will enjoy the many funny and touching stories that Mr. Bush shares, as well as the myths that he clears up.
The book is printed on high-quality paper, which makes for a heavy tome, but I was impressed to learn that both the author and the publisher are contributing to worthy causes through the profits from this book.


Ever After
Ever After
by Brenda Jenkyns
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, September 7, 2012
This review is from: Ever After (Paperback)
Ms. Jenkyns' wonderful little book is a treasure. It belongs in every library. It's hard to say which is more beautiful: the way she tells the story or the way Ms. Garren illustrates it. While the "facts" of the story are well-known to any MJ fan, it is told with such warmth here that the reader cannot help but be moved. And that is the quality of a great story-teller.


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
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.02
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite, November 10, 2011
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For anyone who ever thought they would have liked to have been a "fly on the wall" as Michael Jackson wrote, recorded, and produced his solo albums, Mr. Vogel gives us that chance. His well-written, fully researched, and thoroughly documented book takes us all on a wonderful journey, peopled with Michael and his many collaborators.

This is a book about Michael's artistic life. Mr. Vogel locates each album within the social and political context that birthed it. He starts at the beginning with "Off the Wall," and moves seamlessly all the way to "Invincible." The posthumous album "Michael" is addressed in an appendix. We are provided with enough detail that we can almost imagine being there during the creative process, yet not so much that we feel bogged down with minutiae. In addition to the songs, we also learn about many of the accompanying short films. We are treated to remarks from various reviewers, writing at the time the album was released, as well as comments from those who worked closely with Michael. Mr. Vogel craftily knits all of this information together into a very pleasant read. He does not shy away from the events in Michael's personal life, but shows us how they informed his creative work.
Shortcomings of this book are few, and mostly concern what is not included. One is the omission of information on some of the short films, Liberian Girl, Blood on the Dance Floor, and One More Chance in particular. During the review of the album "Blood on the Dance Floor," the remixed songs are not discussed, and they are very different from their originals. I was hoping Mr. Vogel would enlighten me about these choices. Maybe he will include this information when it's time for the second edition. At that time, perhaps he can correct the typos and that "Thriller won eight Grammy's" mistake which is totally out of character for the rest of the book.
I typically devour a book in a day or so; this one I chose to savor over a longer period of time. I will no doubt read this book again.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2012 1:30 PM PDT


Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon
Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon
DVD ~ Andrew Eastel
Price: $6.99
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, November 6, 2011
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This over-hyped DVD short-changes us on many levels. At over 2 ˝ hours, one would expect a fairly complete coverage of Michael's life, but it does not live up to that expectation. Fully two-thirds is dedicated to Michael in his early years with the J5/Jacksons. What we have, is mostly talking heads, interspersed with photo collages and video clips, virtually all of which are probably familiar to even the most casual fan. Of the talking heads, we have Rebbie, Tito, and Katherine Jackson, all of whom came across well. But beyond them, the only notables are Smoky Robinson, Dionne Warwick, and Whitney Houston. Most of the rest are behind-the-scenes music industry people, only a few names of which I even recognized. It was interesting to hear Bobby Taylor's perspective, which I had not heard before. Tom Mesereau gets a couple of short cameos. Randy Taraborelli gets quite a bit of face time; the good news in that, is that he seems to have now decided that Michael was totally innocent, which the revised (2009) version of his biography of Michael did not clearly convey.
Michael's solo career is only addressed up to Thriller, and even that part is disappointing. We also get a glimpse of the 30th anniversary concert, but that was to be expected as David Gest was responsible for that event, and this is his production (which, naturally, gets him lots of face time as well). Footage of adult Michael performing is almost totally missing, which, to my way of thinking, omits a huge part of his life. Not a single clip of any short films was included.
The good news is that it is mostly well done as a production; it's the content, or lack thereof, that merits my low review.
Unless you positively MUST have everything about Michael in your collection, save your money.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2011 10:11 AM PST


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