Just in time for the holiday buying frenzy — which will no doubt be less “frenzied” due to the shaky economy and the public’s general uncertainty — Epic/Legacy Recordings, in collaboration with MJJ Productions and the estate of Michael Jackson, has released a spectacular three-DVD set titled “Michael Jackson’s Vision.”
Like the artist, the package can only be described as special. There are two regular discs and one bonus disc, for a total of 42 performances — ten of which had previously been unavailable on DVD. Four-and-a-half hours of some of the most memorable music and images of all time.
In addition, there is an attractive 64-page color booklet featuring many never-before-seen pictures along with details on every video and song.
It would not be far-fetched to say that in 1983 Michael Jackson transformed the music video into an art form with the groundbreaking big production “Thriller.” That lengthy video (an unprecedented 14 minutes), directed by the great and prolific John Landis, was, in fact, a “little movie.”
“THRILLER,” which raised the bar considerably, was named the most successful music video of all time by none other than the Guinness Book of World Records. The cultural phenomenon is also the first and only music video inducted by the Library of Congress into the elite National Film Registry.
Jackson’s follow-up video, for “Bad,” utilized the skills of another legendary director, Martin Scorsese.
Disc 1 features “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” “Rock With You,” “She’s Out of My Life,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Thriller,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Another Part of Me,” “Speed Demon,” “Come Together,” “Leave Me Alone” and “Liberian Girl.”
Disc 2 includes “Black or White,” “Remember the Time,” “In the Closet,” “Jam,” “Heal the World,” “Give In to Me,” “Who Is It?,” “Will You Be There?,” “Gone Too Soon,” “Scream” (with Janet Jackson), “Childhood,” “You Are Not Alone,” “Earth Song,” “They Don’t Care About Us,” “Stranger in Moscow,” “Blood on the Dancefloor,” “Ghosts,” “You Rock My World” and “Cry.”
Disc 3 bonuses are “Blame It On the Boogie” (the Jacksons), “Enjoy Yourself” (the Jacksons), “Can You Feel It?” (the Jacksons), “Say Say Say” (with Paul McCartney), “They Don’t Care About Us” (prison version), “Why?” (3T featuring Michael Jackson) and “One More Chance” (previously unreleased).
ASIDE FROM being a born entertainer — his mother says he came into the world rhythmic — Michael Jackson always had an unusually strong sense of competitiveness. It meant everything to him to be the best, to do things no one else could. Today his influence is easily seen in artists such as Usher, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and Chris Brown.
Like them, Jackson was influenced by others. He loved Fred Astaire, James Brown, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones and others, noting, “The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work.”
Moreover, nothing he did could be second rate or flawed. “I’m a perfectionist,” he once said. “It’s part of who I am.”
Jackson was a figure of global importance and admiration for a remarkable four decades and will continue to be so. He is said to be the most-awarded artist in the history of recorded music. The New York Times went so far as say, “In the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else.”
An overstatement, true enough, but one based on certain realities of the time. It was his close friend, legendary screen star Elizabeth Taylor, who dubbed him “the King of Pop.” The occasion was Jackson receiving the Soul Train Heritage Award, presented by Taylor. Her exact words were that Jackson was “the true king of pop, rock and soul.”
In the 12 months following his passing, on June 25, 2009, Jackson sold an amazing 35 million albums worldwide. Virtually all of his solo albums returned to the charts, at one time dominating the Billboard magazine Top 10. It is widely believed that Michael Jackson would have approved of the release of this meticulously assembled collection. — Steve Holsey contributed to this story.