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Farewell My Summer Love Volume 2
on 7 June 2012
In 1984 at the height of Michael Jackson's post thriller career, his former record label Motown released an album called Farewell My Summer Love which consisted of songs recording in the 70's overdubbed by an 80's sounding band, presumably in an attempt to pass it off as a new Michael Jackson album. The Producers of "Michael" have attempted the same conceit.
Like Farewell My Summer Love, "Michael" is technically a decent album. It seems to cover all the bases and sounds like how you might imagine a Michael Jackson album to sound. Unfortunately, the listener is left with a rather hollow feeling because a vital element is missing - Michael himself. This is not his vision, he did not make any artistic decisions. As fans know, he would agonise over every note of every album. The fact that he did not do that here means that he is simply being used as a product. This is essentially a remix album - someone else's vision.
This may have been a more interesting album if the producers had provided a bonus disc with the raw tracks that they had used so that listeners are able to identify how the album was put together.
It would always be inevitable that Sony would be issuing posthumous material, particularly given the riches that apparently remain in the vaults. However I would have preferred an album of tracks written and produced by Michael alone. After his collaborations with Quincy Jones and then several other producers, this would have been a more fitting final album rather than a gathering of producers guessing what Michael would have done.
It is encouraging that fans have not responded overwhelmingly to this album and is perhaps a lesson to Sony that Michael's fans are not simply going to buy into everything that they slap Michael's name on. Indeed, even compared to other posthumous releases (eg Queen's Made in Heaven or John Lennon's Milk and Honey) this does not seem to have been the success that Sony may have expected.
It is also encouraging that at the time of writing Sony will be releasing a 25th Anniversary edition of Bad featuring raw (not overdubbed) demos. I hope this is an indication of Sony's future policy - any unreleased music should be used to shed light on the music that Michael released rather than be passed off as the album he would have released had he lived.