For anyone born after 1990, the prospect of Michael Jackson must be a particularly odd one - why, I'm guessing these kids would think, was the media venerating a shrivelled nonce wraith with a weird line in slip ons? Every now and then he'd come out with a slightly shit tune, then creep off back to his ranch/ lair to whizz around on otherwise empty fairground rides, like a poorly written Batman villain.Which is pretty sad really, because for anyone around in Michael's pomp, he truly was the King of Pop, one of the greatest all round performers the world has ever seen, blessed with an ethereal voice, an almost spooky sense of rhythm, and the unquantifiable otherworldly-ness that marks a star.
A post humous album is going to be fascinating, if only because- and it seems cruel to say it- Michael isn't around to balls it up with bad decisions. His latter career was dogged with poor choices, almost certainly enabled by his array of leeching hangers-on (Yuri Geller, we're looking at you). As such, MJ missed numerous chances to forge the kind of close relationships with modern producers such as Timbaland or Rodney Jerkins that he'd enjoyed with Quincy Jones, and ended up mired in drawing decreasing returns from a sonic palette he'd exhausted by the early 90s.
So now, 'Xscape', the new compilation of unreleased tracks is a chance to show what could have been. Rodney 'Darkchild' Jerkins (probably best known in the UK for his work on the android RnB of Brandy's 'What About Us') has produced the majority of the tracks, adding a complexity and modernity that Michael had missed in life. The album is there for streaming on Spotify, and on a first listen in the Ransom Note offices, it's got some genuine excellent MJ moments on there - we'd suggest 'A Place With No Name' and the somewhat unfortunately named 'Do You Know Where Your Children Are' both proove to be vintage addtions to the canon- but you can decide for yourself: