4 Out Of 5 Stars
Michael Jackson had the inevitable and unenviable task come 1987 of releasing a follow-up to not just one of the biggest selling albums of all time, but one of the most beloved, "Thriller." "Bad" is the result, and it couldn't help but pale in comparison. That's not to say the album lacks for terrific material, in fact, punch for punch, it is very nearly "Thriller's" equal, and it certainly is better than "Off The Wall." It once again racked up multiple chart hits, with five singles hitting number one from '87 to '89. Thanks to Quincy Jones, the production is immaculate, and between Jones and Jackson, the songs not written by Jackson were cherry picked to magnify Jackson's strengths.
"Bad" also was formulaic in its pursuit of Thrillermania. The big dance number is the title track. The bad girl of "Billie Jean" is replaced by "Dirty Diana." That's also where the star rock guitar solo comes from, with Billy Idol's Steve Stevens takes the place of Eddie VanHalen. The superstar duet came from Stevie Wonder instead of Paul McCartney, on "Just Good Friends." And the happy-time dance song was "The Way You Make Me Feel" in the same vein as "Pretty Young Thing." While Jackson hinted at his personal paranoia on "Billie Jean," this time it comes out fully formed as "Leave Me Alone" (which was not on the original album but basically is considered part of it after it was released as a video).
But everyone from the 80's already knows that. The man reason to bother picking up the 25th Anniversary of "Bad" is the second disc of bonus tracks. Three of them were on an earlier reissue, "Streetwalker," "Fly Away" and a Spanish version of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." Now we get the later in French, plus six previously unreleased demos. I'm no fan of modernized remixes, so I'll refrain from commenting on the likes of Pitbull hanging out on "Bad." Of the new tracks, the Latin feel of "Don't Be Messing Around" is the most intriguing, and shows what a perfectionist Jackson was. It sounds like a finished song, yet Micheal gave it a pass and never went back to it for future CD's. "Song Groove (Abortion Papers)" would have been controversial on many levels, yet it has a wicked groove. "Price of Fame" is another complaint about fame and even references "Billie Jean," and "Al Capone" milks the "Wanna Be Something" groove needlessly. Both are no big deal.
Bottom line, if you bought the 2001 reissue, there's not much of a reason to go after "Bad25."