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Michael Jackson: Xscape (Epic)

Second posthumous release from the King of Pop

Thankfully, this second posthumous album does not moonwalk over the King Of Pop's grave quite as crassly as 2010's Michael. It is, however, what it is: a project whose driving force is a record label chief executive (not the artist whose name is attached), which gathers up eight demos (songs once deemed not good enough to make the cut on their contemporaneous release) then hires some big-name producers (Timbaland, Stargate) to make them relevent for 2014.

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It should not come as any surprise there is a disconnection between Jackson's vocals and the urban sheen wrapped around them.

They get away with it on the old-fashioned disco approach of lead single Love Never Felt So Good (written in 1983), but the present-day R&B production on other songs make them feel more like remixes than originals.

Just because he supplied the vocal tracks does not make this a Michael Jackson album: if he had had a hand in the direction of the final production style, as he always did, wouldn't he have sung them a different way?

I am going to go against the flow of critical opinion and say I mostly prefer the demo versions on the Deluxe Edition.

They may be bare-bones basic, but the bluesy-soul edge to Jackson's voice is 20 times more authentic to his legacy than an overpriced producer's self-regarding workout.

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