Saturday, 23 March 2019

Michael Jackson - Dangerous (1991)


  

Released November 1991

Michael Jackson was an absolute megastar by now - the "King of Pop" and all that. This album was not, however, quite as critically well-received as the previous three. It is, for me, a sprawling affair that is, like so many of its contemporaries in the early-mid nineties and indeed beyond, far too long. It clocks in at nearly one hour and twenty minutes. Value for money? Of course, but I do have to say I prefer the succinctness of your average sixties/seventies/eighties albums, where forty minutes was considered long. The tracks are not only numerous, they all seem to go on way too long as well, individually. This would have been considered a double album in the seventies. The music is dominated by what was known as "new jack swing" - a fusion of hip/hop with r 'n' b powered by drum machine backing.

TRACK LISTING

1. Jam
2. Why You Wanna Trip On Me
3. In The Closet
4. She Drives Me Wild
5. Remember The Time
6. Can't Let Her Get Away
7. Heal The World
8. Black And White
9. Who Is It
10. Give In To Me
11. Will You Be There
12. Keep The Faith
13. Gone Too Soon
14. Dangerous

"Jam" has a shuffling, funky beat that sort of recalls the best of the "Thriller" album but with an updated early nineties thumping backing. The same applies to "Why You Wanna Trip On Me". There are some Prince-esque bits in here as well. "In The Closet" is quirkily appealing, but as with the previous track, it just goes on seemingly forever. "She Drives Me Wild" has those trademark Jackson vocal hiccups, a bit of rap/hip-hop backing vocal interjections and a rhythmic dance beat, but, personally, I long for the clear instrumentation and Quincy Jones production of the "Off The Wall" album. This nineties style, loud, crashing production tends to deaden the vitality of the songs, in my opinion anyway. Many love it, though, and it certainly was up-to-the minute. The new jack swing drum machine rhythm makes the sound homogenous through a lot of the album.

"Remember The Time" has a bit of an Earth, Wind & Fire vocal feel to it and a more understated, bassy beat. The problem has been that the previous few tracks have been, to an extent, petty indistinguishable from each other. That was certainly not the case with the songs on "Off The Wall", "Thriller" or some of "Bad". Like all Michael Jackson albums, there were numerous singles taken from this one - an incredible NINE singles out of fourteen tracks. Trouble is, I can't remember too many of them.

The Prince-influenced groove of "I Can't Let Her Get Away" was not a single, but it is one of the album's catchier tracks, but it does sound a lot like many of the others in its synth drum/synth backing and the generally somewhat soulless approach from Jackson. I cannot help but feel he goes through the motions a bit on some of the tracks, in comparison to the verve and vigour of earlier material. You can't deny his commitment on the earnest "Heal The World", however. Despite its obvious cheesiness, it is a melodic relief after what seemed like ages of synthy dance grooves. Jackson's voice is warm and beautiful on here. The best track on the album is "Black And White", a glorious, riffy anthem, with a worthy message. I love the "kid in the bedroom" intro before it launches into that classic riff. Vocal hiccups all over the place, great bass, full of charisma, this is the killer Jackson track the album has been crying out for. At last. Despite the professional competence of much of the previous songs on the album, this is the one that really grabs you by the whatever. Love it.

"Who Is It" has a lot of atmosphere, I have to say, and a yearning, soulful vocal from Jackson. "Give In To Me" is a low-key grower, which has some understated hidden depths and a great guitar solo (from Slash of Guns 'n' Roses). "Will You Be There" has a ghostly, classical-influenced extended opening, which is all very nice, but a little incongruous when the drum machines kick in. It is an odd song, slightly gospel-influenced and also reminiscent of a Christmas carol. It is different though.

By now, the album should have finished, so "Keep The Faith" just sort of passes me by, although its harmless enough. The plaintive "Gone Too Soon" sounds like something from a musical. The title track ends the album on a high note, though, with a brooding, mysterious groove. Its spoken vocal intro leads into some more high-pitched yelping and a catchy refrain. Surprisingly, this one wasn't a single. Maybe it should have been.

Ok, I've spent long enough listening to this and certainly long enough writing about it...it does have an appeal, though, for all its (admittedly a little bit nit-picking) flaws.

B-

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