For many Michael Jackson fans and pop music aficionados, there is one track on the album accompanying the This Is It film that may justify purchase of the entire collection. No, it's not the new song "This Is It." There is a set of three demos on the bonus disc here, and the rough take on "Beat It" is stunning. Stripped primarily to vocal parts, the rough take on a true classic in the making is something you will want to hear. Many pop fans may look at this album as merely an attempt to further cash in on the uniqueness of the concert documentary, but it truly is a release that has elements to justify its existence.
Another Tour Through Major Michael Jackson Hits
The first disc of Michael Jackson's This Is It is a run through of mostly a repackaging of many of Jackson's greatest hits. They are sequenced in the same order in which they appear in the film. It is easy to say this is just overkill since any serious Michael Jackson fan will already have these recordings. However, it is fascinating to hear the songs in an order Jackson may have used to represent himself, and it's difficult to say the ultra-smooth perfection of "Human Nature," the stunning guitar work on "Black or White," or "Bille Jean's" bassline for the ages ever truly get old. My suspicion is that if you go see the film, it will be a good thing to be able to listen to the songs from the film in this order when you get home.
The Powerful Demos
The three demos included in the second disc of This Is It should be heard by Michael Jackson fans. "She's Out of My Life" is stripped to simply guitar and voice. The overall effect is gorgeous, even if Michael Jackson doesn't seem to break down quite as much as in the original recording. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" is more complete, but it is still very rough around the edges. The energy present in this version is stunning and likely to bring a smile to your face. The truly powerful gem to hear is "Beat It" with a focus on laying out vocal harmonies on the choruses. There are beatbox vocals in accompaniment and a sound as if you are in the studio hearing a true classic begin to gel.
"This Is It" the Song
"The Is It," the newly released recording of an aborted collaboration between Michael Jackson and Paul Anka, is not one of Jackson's greatest recordings. However, hearing a song we have not heard before is exciting, and "This Is It" is far from a mere throwaway. The "orchestral" version of "This Is It" is fun with an orchestra warm-up highly reminiscent of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. There is also a poem read in Michael Jackson's own voice tacked on to the collection as well. Despite initial appearances, This Is It is a solid musical document that somehow seems about right at this point four months out from the untimely loss of a true pop legend.