Michael Jackson’s Vision

Michael Jackson’s Vision
(Sony Legacy)

Buy it at Amazon!

There’s an inherent irony that a man who had as much vision as Michael Jackson did, who knew exactly what people wanted to hear, couldn’t see how or why his myriad bad choices would be viewed by the world.  Luckily, when it came to presenting his artistic vision, he was always spot on, as this killer 3-disk DVD set reassures us.

Michael truly was a visionary when it came to his music, understanding that it was about it being seen as well as heard. Early singles had preconceived videos already in place to support them, and once MTV hit, he pioneered the long-form video and the idea of using big-name directors to make them.  The 35 videos presented here (a little pretentiously called “short films” as only a couple really deserve that distinction) cover Jackson’s entire career, with Off The Wall tracks like “Rock With You” and “She’s Out Of My Life” hinting at where he was itching to go with his vision. Also featured is the Scorsese-directed “Beat It” as well as the Jon Landis masterpiece that was “Thriller.”

But it wasn’t until Bad that Michael fully realized the cross-marketing potential of the form, with every song on the album getting its own video as well.  The second disc spans his more troubling artistic arc, from Dangerous onward.  Though the mini-movie for “Remember The Time” (directed by John Singleton) is still enjoyable, and the restored, once-banned ending of “Black and White” show that Jackson was delving more into gratuitous indulgence than threatening behavior.  The latter-day tracks also feature Spike Lee’s poignant take on “They Don’t Care About Us”  and the Janet-and-Michael duet “Scream.”

More treats come on the bonus disc, which includes a handful of fun tunes from The Jacksons (like the kitschy “Blame It On The Boogie”), “Say Say Say” (with Paul McCartney), and the debut of the R. Kelly-penned “One More Chance.”

All the videos are remastered, and I can find only one thing to gripe about. Without sounding ungrateful for this consistently entertaining set, the bonus disc (which only has seven videos) should have included some prime Jackson 5 live tracks from their many TV appearances. Although you may not be able to shake the depressing element of watching the King of Pop move from his prodigious, cherubic early self to his tortured, taut later one, viewing the world through Michael Jackson’s Vision is a treat.

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About Alex Stimmel

Educator, musician, writer. Teach K-8 music in an East Harlem PS; guitarist/songwriter for Apothecary Hymns (Locust); have written for Mojo, NY Times Mag, Rolling Stone, Resonance & more.
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