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Product: Audio CD
Title: Invincible
Label: Sony
Artist: Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5
The King never left his throne.

I think I can sum it up pretty nicely. Fire all the critics and reviewers who tried to review MJ's life, rather than the actual music. This CD is a *must*.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Anytime [Single]
Label: Motown
Artist: Brian McKnight
Rating: 5/5
Customer rating - 5 out of 5

"Anytime" is one of his cd that I really love listening to. His words keep me alive and warm. whenever I'm down or depressed, just by listenig to his songs comfort me and make me feel alive again. He is the best of the best and he can't be compared.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Mozart - Great Mass in C Minor / Augér, Dawson, Ainsley, Thomas, AAM, Hogwood
Label: Decca
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Remarkable singing and direction, unremarkable playing

All of the previous reviews of this gloriously sung mass are correct: the period band is slight and not powerful enough to project over the marvelous singers, while the singers -- which is what this is about -- are uniformly outstanding.

Perhaps most outstanding is the contribution of the late lamented soprano Arleen Auger, whose voice and timbre were wondrous for this recording with Christopher Hogwood, the Academy of Ancient Music and Winchester Cathedral Choir with soloists Lynne Dawson, John Mark Ainsley and David Thomas. Aside from the thin orchestral support, there is nary a weak link in the group and a great many outstanding performances. True to his character, Hogwood collaborates with engineers to bring forth a crystal clear and transparent recording that is long on weight and fortitude while adhering to the religious joys inherent in the music.

I am variably troubled by the substituion of a boy's choir for an adult women's section, which I find authentic but results in a mass less kaleidoscopic than normal and not particularly weighty. This, coupled with the lean support given by the thin as a rail string section and disappearing act by the woodwinds of the AAM, keeps this performance from being a five star job. Still, if singing is the main ingredient for you, you may look long and diligently to find one that matches this.

Traditionalists should find what they want from the bargain twofer by Colin Davis of this mass, the Requiem and another mass on Philips. The performances, recorded made during the 1970s, are traditional and include large choirs with famous soloists and a conductor that emphasizes vocal and instrumental drama over religiousity. A reverberant acoustic makes his C Minor Mass one to remember, as well.

Product: Audio CD
Title: Bad
Label: Sony
Artist: Michael Jackson
Rating: 3/5
Customer rating - 3 out of 5
Jackson's Reach Was Already Surpassing His Grasp

It's pretty much what almost every artist does when they have a blockbuster album- they try to give even more of what the people apparently loved there in the follow-up. But where the elements that people loved in the blockbuster were wound in with its entire ball of yarn, those elements tend to be the ball of yarn itself in the follow-up, thus resulting in an album that is not as powerful as its blockbuster predecessor.
Such is the case with BAD, Michael Jackson's successor to the phenomenon that was called THRILLER. With producer Quincy Jones, Jackson made BAD an album that was much more slicker than THRILLER and relied much more on studio craftsmanship, all the while attempting to expand on the all-embracing musical palette of the predecessor. A product that seems very interesting on paper, probably, but in this particular practice, it ends up as less than what it could have been. Because of the slickness that covers the entire project, it seems that Jackson is already trying to prove himself as the superstar he is considered to be by keeping his focus narrow. So, when BAD is examined in depth, it does not turn out to have the all-embracing vision its predecessor had; rather, it feels like an urban record and nothing else.
All of this is not helped by the fact that Jackson's writing skills were not in full force this time (even if he wrote almost every track). There are a few good songs that rank with THRILLER- the ditty title track; the bouncy "The Way You Make Me Feel"; and the ballad "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." "Smooth Criminal" is also fine, even if Jackson sounds completely ironic about his 'cry' for poor Annie. But the rest of the material practically lives up to its album's title, even if it is all well produced- "Man in the Mirror" sounds insincere and lacks hooks in its verses; "Dirty Diana" attempts to take the hard rock of "Beat It" and the elaborate storytelling of "Billie Jean" together, but it lacks a solid guitar riff and memorable verses; and "Speed Demon"; "Liberian Girl"; "Another Part of Me"; and "Just Good Friends" are pretty much works of the studio- the music and studio craftsmanship completely dominate, with Jackson's forgettable cliches at best only slightly rising above the muck. And, last but not least, is "Leave Me Alone," a song tacked on to the end of the record that is arguably the best tune on BAD- here, Jackson actually has some good and memorable hooks up his sleeve, or at least more than he showcases in the other songs.
For some people, I can understand that they would like the slick approach Jackson took for this album, for it does make the entire project interesting. But yet, BAD is ultimately not an album that can really be enjoyed in the long run, simply because it does not deliver enough hooks and panache amongst its glossy production. Thus, instead of being a classic like THRILLER, it ends up as a project that is completely tied to its time. That may not be enough to persuade some consumers that BAD is not a revelatory listen, but most people would be better off by just getting the best songs from this in a greatest hits collection, like GREATEST HITS: HISTORY, VOL 1.