I have a confession to make. When Bad was originally released 25 years ago I was in love with it, so much so that I would think to myself about how awesome it would be if I ever got the chance to see Michael Jackson in concert and he just happened to toss his hat my way. It was the initials of our names, you see. I thought the serendipity of that MJ meant something because this was music that – despite the fact that I was a chubby Louisiana boy with no rhythm at all – made me want to dance.
That's why I fairly leapt at the opportunity to give a listen to the recently released 25th Anniversary edition of the album. After about a good 36 or so listens I’m pleased to say that this new version of an old favorite holds up very well, and is loaded with some very nice extras that make it twice as exciting to fans of the original release.
Having said that, I would like to point out that there seems to be multiple options if one wants to purchase their own copy of this release, ranging from the package I’m reviewing (3-CD/1-DVD) all the way down to simply the single remastered CD of the original album.
As for that 3-CD/1-DVD package I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to/watch, I think it’s the one to go for out of all the various options. What you get is a CD containing the original album remastered (and sounding great), a CD containing early versions of songs that ultimately made it onto the album or songs that for some reason or another were never released (until now), a DVD of Michael Jackson live in concert in 1988 at Wembley, and the audio from that same concert on CD.
Bad, Michael Jackson’s third and final album produced by Quincy Jones, perhaps came too long after the monster success of Thriller, but those five years in between found Jackson emerging fully matured as a writer and producer in his own right. Eight out of the album's original 10 songs (or 11 if you count the CD-only addition of “Leave Me Alone”) were written by Jackson, which marked the first time he wrote a great majority of a record. Whatever you may think of the man, there is no way to deny the exquisite craftsmanship that went into songs like “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Dirty Diana” and “Leave Me Alone.”
Along with the words, Bad is just awash in amazing dance grooves, iconic pop hooks and some of the most impeccable vocal performances ever laid down in a pop album. It’s in that light – the breathtaking precision and OCD search for studio perfection that was driving Jackson at this point in his life – that truly shines on this remastered version of Bad. There were moments when I would find myself alternating between my older CD version of the album and this new one and I’d be amazed at all the different layers of sound I could now hear floating behind every bass line and song lyric.