What’s dangerous, at least to the career of Michael Jackson, was his decision to leave producer Quincy Jones after three hit albums. This one isn’t trimmed as tight as it probably would’ve been if he were still around; it goes for 77 minutes; but the way that time is utilized made it a risk worth taking. The set immerses itself in New Jack Swing; gritty dance grooves produced by Teddy Riley; before dwindling the tempo down for an eclectic assortment of ballads.
Gone Too Soon matches poetic similes with soaring orchestration. It’s a beautiful lament. But before you can shed a tear, the music fades to the thumping pulse of a nightclub. It’s not the place that’s Dangerous. It’s a girl. She’s vindictive, conniving, sexy and divine, all at once. Could it be the return of Dirty Diana? Perhaps. But this album is not only better than Bad, it is arguably the best Michael Jackson album thus far and one of the two best albums I’ve ever heard.
There is Thriller, of course, and that’s where the internal arguments begin. Song for song, with a loaded gun to my head, I’d be inclined to say Thriller is better. It certainly has a more ageless soundscape, which does wonders for the classicity of its songs. Dangerous dates itself with overactive sound effects and unnecessary guest rappers. But the essence of these songs are just as incredible and Michael Jackson’s signature style is even more magnificent.
Unlike most singers, he doesn’t simply sing. He often takes on a riled staccato delivery that almost sounds like melodic rap. He snaps, grunts, hiccups, hees and hoos like no one else. Even when the ad-libs don’t match the words of the song, as during the peak of Will You Be There, you’re too enthralled to care. Can’t Let Her Get Away falters during its second half, but it’s a minor fault. This album is a masterpiece. Michael Jackson doesn’t need Quincy Jones anymore.
my rating = 5 of 5
The beginning sounds too much like Stranger In Moscow, but the song gets better from there. Cry, which the title suggests is a counterpart to Scream, is actually the new Man In The Mirror; a fact you might not recognize until the end. “Change the world”, is the final message. Back then it was, “Make that change.”
Aesthetically both philanthropy anthems are about the same, but the message sounded more urgent in 1987. The melodies are well composed and the ad-libs during the final minute near classic Michael Jackson, but, despite backup from a full gospel choir, he sounds less energetic, ironically less Invincible, here.
my rating = 4 of 5