Wacko Jacko thrills from the grave

Michael Jackson’s first posthumous studio album, simply called Michael, will be ­released tomorrow – nine years since MJ released new material.

The album comprises just 10 ­previously unreleased tracks that the late pop icon recorded before his sudden death last year.

Even at that point in his life, Jackson had not lost any of his star power and uniqueness.

On Michael, he is more laid-back with his trademark whisper and lilt.

The creative process never stopped for Jackson, who ­always planned for his next ­album.

He wrote and recorded songs continuously everywhere – from a friend’s home in New ­Jersey to studios in Las Vegas and Los Angeles – with a group of hand-picked ­collaborators.

The album has divided critics in the US and has been described as “kind of enjoyable” and “not a Michael Jackson album”.

There has been an uproar over some of the songs, especially Breaking News, which Jackson’s mom, Catherine, claimed was not sung by her son.
But the explanation given on the CD sleeve goes some way to putting things into ­perspective.

The liner notes read: “Michael demonstrated a keen sense of humour regarding the media.

He would often disguise his voice as a journalist talking about ‘Michael Jackson’.
He seemed to find a lot of humour in how silly things would make the news...”

The much-hyped collaboration with Akon, Hold My Hand, is a rousing inspirational track, but sounds more like an Akon song than a Jackson song.

A handwritten note from Michael belonging to his estate ­indicated his desire that Hold My Hand be the first single on his next project.

However, in its ­unfinished state, the song was leaked in 2008 and Akon recently completed the new and final ­production.

Akon comments:“The world was not ready to hear Hold My Hand when it leaked. But its time has definitely come. Now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song.

I’m so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael.”

For the romantics, Jackson shines on (I Like) The Way You Love Me, a slow and elegant track that is rooted in the Jackson 5’s style.

The sad farewell/break-up song Much Too Soon is a ­delicate tear-jerker.

He ups the tempo on Monster, which features gangsta rapper 50Cent, with some scintillating sound effects of breaking glasses and gunshots.

The loud track is edgy and might remind a listener of Scream, which Jackson recorded with his sister Janet in the 1990s.

Behind the Mask is a quintessential supersonic composition ­laden with Auto-Tune, typical of Jackson in the 1980s and 1990s.

But while the debate will rage on for a while about the ­authenticity of the songs and the voice on the music – the grab bag of outtakes and outlines, as Rolling Stone called it – Michael’s ­charisma is still compelling.

Even in death he continues to make headlines and rake in ­honours. His song This Is It has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Male Pop Vocal ­Performance category.

There is also a 30-city Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour with Cirque du Soleil and the Michael Jackson Estate in North America in October next year.

The show has been described as a fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world.

Purportedly, The Immortal World Tour will unfold Jackson’s artistry before the eyes of the audience in a fantastical realm.

It will be ­centred on ­Jackson’s inspirational Giving Tree – the wellspring of his creativity.

And so the legend continues...

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