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Let's Make HIStory: An insight into the HIStory album Paperback – September 20, 2016
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About the Author
Brice Najar was born in Annecy, France, in 1979. He is the author of three books about Michael Jackson's musical world. The first one tackles the subject of his solo discography, through his singles released between 1979 and 2008. The second approaches the albums he recorded with his brothers as The Jacksons from 1976 to 1989. Both books can be read independently but also complement one another. In his next book, Brice holds to those musical thematic axes but through a different concept. « Let’s Make HIStory » is a collection of interviews with some of the protagonists of the double « HIStory » album released in 1995, as a way to understand the King of Pop’s working process in the studio.
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This was considerably more than I expected when purchasing the book - it being the new material on HIStory - the “HIStory continues” portion - that I was most interested in reading about.
The book is composed of interviews, some of them quite in-depth, with people who worked on the different recordings with Michael Jackson. This means we have people who worked on material from the early 80s as well as the 90s, a rare few having involvement all the way through.
I have to admit to not being one of the fans who worships at the shrine of Quincy Jones, but given that tracks from “Off the Wall”, “Thriller” and “Bad” are included on the “HIStory begins” portion of the album, the references to Mr Jones are unavoidable. That’s not to mean that I begrudge Quincy his due for the truly memorable work he did with Michael, merely some of the things he has said publically about Michael in recent years.
Once we get to the 90s tracks - three from the “Dangerous” album under “HIStory begins” and then the “HIStory continues" portion - I became truly engrossed in the recollections of the talented musicians and others who contributed their skills and experience to the creative process.
Included are some photographs of the individuals interviewed along with some autographed items from the author's collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia. They are not a major component of the book, but they do nicely augment the text and, in some cases provide evidence of the author's interaction with some of the interviewees.
One thing this book lacks which would make it so much more valuable as a reference work is an Index. Add a Bibliography, and it would be even better. But, while there are numerous MJ books that have those things, few of them can claim to have acquired their information through first-hand interviews as has Najar.
Furthermore, Najar's interviews are composed of intelligent questions, respectful of the creative process and the interviewee's part in it, and respectful of the primary artist, Michael Jackson. There is no tabloid fodder here. It was Najar's intention to give a voice to those working in the studio "and this way not making anything up!"*
The text contains some typing idiosyncrasies which, though minor and at least used consistently, I nevertheless found to be irritating. If I had been editing the book I would have insisted they be changed.
I would also have moved the Table of Contents from the back of the book to the front, where we're used to seeing it in most publications.
By far the most interesting part of the book for me was the interview with Brad Buxer. Even though I have heard Brad talk about his work with Michael in person at one of Brad Sundberg’s famous In the Studio with Michael Jackson seminars, at which I took copious notes in longhand, it was wonderful to have his stories “on record” by virtue of this book.
For those who don't know, Buxer worked with Michael from 1989 onwards, both in the studio and on tour and eventually became his musical director following the Super Bowl half time show in 1993. He continued to work on songs with Michael up to and including 2008.
Other favourites are Steve Porcaro and Rob Hoffman. The latter's recollections of the night in the studio when Michael recorded the final vocals for Earth Song are truly memorable, as are his many other insights from the HIStory album sessions he was involved in.
There are so many quotable quotes in this book from many of the interviewees. But what comes through in every case is their absolute appreciation for having worked with Michael Jackson and for being a part of his, and popular music, HIStory.
Review by Kerry Hennigan
*Najar, Brice in his Preface to "Let's Make HIStory" p 8.
You get great insight into the production and development of songs, and the effort it took, to create unique, „never heard before“ sounds and the perfect sound per se. The book provides a good idea of what it took to create such an great album, involving so many contributors which sometimes had very special tasks. You can also read about how Michael conveyed all that he heard in his head to his engineers or musicians to get exactly what he wanted, and about many private funny or remarkable moments those people shared with Michael.
Since the contributors to this book were working on different tasks on the HIStory Album, their reports also show different perspectives of this music project.
All the people who got a chance to speak in this book were talented musicians in their own right or experts in their field, be it sound technology or composing, but they all express the love and respect they have for Michael's talent as musician, artist and human being, and you really can sense the magnitude of a project like the HIStory Album as they all point out how much their contribution to it meant for them.
„Let's Make HIStory“ is not only worth reading for the fans of Michael Jackson, but also for people who love to get some candid insight in real music production and the experience of seeing true artistry and a profound work ethic.
The concept of "Let's Make History" is interesting because it gives voice to artists who worked with Michael Jackson. Many testimonies are full of unpublished anecdotes and provide insight into the artistic process that gave birth to the "classics" of the artist that marked the end of the twentieth century. Beyond studio's memories, the book also reveals personal stories. They offer the reader an interesting and exciting vision of the man who was behind the flattering but sometimes weighing "King Of Pop" status.
if you a fun you Must buy this book.