Artists “Can’t Help” But Remake This Michael Jackson Classic

Sources: Revive Music – By Eric Sandler (Published August 30, 2013)| All Things Michael


The Michael Jackson songbook is filled with some of the most timeless compositions of the 20th century. The hits we all know – “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “Human Nature,” “Rock With You,” “Man in the Mirror,” and so on. MJ was just as beloved among musicians as he was to his billions of adoring fans, however, no matter how universally appealing his music was/is, his songs are damn near impossible to reinterpret on wax. Jackson’s songs were so tailored to his voice (he had 3 ½ octave range) and personality that many who’ve re-corded his songs end up with flat, sometimes campy, results. One of the ways musicians found ways around this was to cover songs that Jackson didn’t write, such as Miles Davis’ cover of “Human Nature,” and Stanley Jordan’s remake of “The Lady in My Life,” and several other examples. But there’s one specific song that continues to get redone: “I Can’t Help It.”


Recorded on the breakout masterpiece album Off The Wall in 1979, “I Can’t Help It,” was composed by Stevie Wonder, with lyrics written by former Supreme Susaye Greene. Wonder, a label mate, friend and mentor to Jackson, came up with a dreamy, blue-greenish groove, accentuated by a misty bass hook and ethereal Rhodes flourishes, with Michael specifically in mind. The track followed “She’s Out of My Life,” a top ten single in which Jackson infamously cried at the end of the song. The sequencing of these two tracks, spearheaded by producer Quincy Jones, was to such perfect affect, you felt as if MJ was wiping away those tears to recompose himself during his subdued vocal intro for this lovely mid-tempo love poem. Jackson caressed the track as only he could, incorporating both Wonder’s sublime vocal note bending and his own signature vibrato.


Though never released as a single, “I Can’t Help It” became an instant classic among fans, DJs, and musicians. In fact, it may be the most covered song in all of MJ’s catalog. Be it the bass line, the chord progression, the sensuous lyrics or Jackson’s unforgettable interpretation, it seems to continue to resonate with artists, particularly instrumental artists, nearly 35 years later. In tribute to his 55th birthday, here’s a list of some of Revive’s favorite interpretations of “I Can’t Help It” (Yes, hearing the same song over and over can get repetitive, but it never seems to happen with this song; that’s how it is):

Grover Washington Jr. – Skylarking, 1980
The legendary saxophonist recorded his own version less than a year after it was released.

Gretchen Parlato – In My Dream, 2009
The Grammy-nominated singer opened her sophomore album with a stripped down, exotic take of the song that worked beautifully, thanks in part to unmistakable backing vocals and guitar licks from Lionel Loueke.

Robert Glasper Experiment, Live in concert, 2011
Glasper and co. made their alleigence to the Stevie Wonder songbook clear with their legendary tribute shows last winter, and this 2011 date predates that admiration.

Esperanza Spalding featuring Joe Lovano – Radio Music Society, 2012
While her ultra-complex, satisfyingly contemporary reworking of the song is a standout on her latest album, Spalding had, in fact, already made “I Can’t Help It” a fixture in her live show since 2009.

BWB – Human Nature, 2013
The three man jazz super group of Norman Brown (guitar), Kirk Whalum (saxophone) and Rick Braun (trumpet) return more than a decade after their debut to record their follow-up, a full-fledged Michael Jackson cover project. Naturally, “I Can’t Help It” was on this list, and made it their own, slowing it down to a smooth, sexy crawl.

Terrace Martin – 3 Chord Fold, 2013
Known for his production work for platinum-selling MC Kendrick Lamar, LA rapper/producer/musician Terrace Martin has a mult-genre palette, put fused jazz and hip-hop to the song on his album 3 Chord Fold. Here, he and his band give a in-studio tribute to the King of Pop, playing the song while on Rhodes and singer through a vocoder.


Read more at Revive Music

Michael Jackson: The Stories Behind 35 Of His Greatest Songs

Sources: NME | All Things Michael


This weekend (10 August) it was 35 years since the release of Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’, so let’s make that logical leap and look at the stories behind 35 of his greatest hits, kicking off with the album’s lead single ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’. It didn’t always have that Quincy Jones sheen – Jackson demo’d it with then-12-year-old sister Janet playing the glass bottles.

Steve Ross And Courtney Sale Wedding Reception, 1982

‘Billie Jean’ Producer Quincy Jones was flummoxed that Jackson – who hadn’t had many relationships – could write this song, but also spilled a few beans: “I’d go to his house and there were always 30 girls outside all the time… One day there was one lying out by the pool, nobody knew who she was. I think she was the inspiration for ‘Billie Jean’.”


Got To Be There’ Jackson’s first solo single prompted Roger St Pierre to ask, in these very ‘pages’, “Is Michael Jackson an example of schmaltzy show business gimmickry at its worst, or is he really a stupendous if precocious new talent?” St Pierre stayed on the fence but the single went top 5 in both the States and the UK, and Jackson did OK.


‘Bad’ “‘Bad is Good!'” went Epic’s, um, inspired posters for Jackson’s comeback campaign in 1987. The song was conceived as a duet with Prince – who was in the process of nicking Jackson’s R&B crown – and there was a meeting in December 1986. All it served to do was chivvy Jackson into finishing his album to put his rival in his place.


‘Earth Song’ “Disgusting and cowardly,” is how Jackson described Jarvis Cocker’s unscheduled cameo during the 1996 Brit Awards performance of ‘Earth Song’. Looked rather audacious from here. Anyway, even in all this exalted company, ‘Earth Song’ remains Michael Jackson’s biggest selling single in the UK.


‘Rock With You’ ‘Off The Wall”s second single was one of three tracks – alongside the title track and ‘Burn This Disco Out’ – put forward for the album by songwriter Rod Temperton, a native of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire and member of funk band Heatwave. He’d go on to write ‘Thriller’.


‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” An integral element of the ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” sound is the ‘bathroom stomp board’, a four foot by three foot piece of plywood that Jackson played in the middle of the song. Might be time to go and have another listen.


‘One Day In Your Life’Chipping every bit of material from the Jackson vaults is nothing new. In 1981 a heap of mid-70s recordings were released to (what’s the word?) capitalise on ‘Off The Wall”s success, and this sweet ballad even made No.1 over here, unseating another Motown legend, Smokey Robinson.


‘Man In The Mirror’ In May 1988, Guns ‘N Roses’ Axl Rose said ‘Man In The Mirror’ was his favourite song of the moment. For everyone else it was a slow-burner – when Jackson died in 2009, it was ‘Man In The Mirror’ that became the big commemorative hit, going all the way to No.2 in the UK charts.


‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’ ‘Shake Your Body’ represents the flowering of The Jacksons’ talents and the first signs of a grown-up Michael. They’d broken free of Motown in 1975 and took creative control for 1978’s ‘Destiny’ album. See this track as the prototype for ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.’

Michael Jackson and The Jacksons Publicity Photos - August 17, 1978
‘Thriller’ “I’ve known Vincent [Price] ever since I was 11 years old,” Jackson told Smash Hits, laying bare the difference between his childhood and yours. “I thought he was the perfect voice.” Price’s hammy turn is half the story; the rest is a 14-minute video with a $500,000+ budget that changed music telly forever.


‘I Want You Back’ The one that catapulted the Jackson 5 to stardom, with the 11-year-old Michael regretting ending a relationship so soon. All right then. The song was originally on the radar of both Gladys Knight and Diana Ross, who each have a claim to introducing the brothers to Motown.

Photo of JACKSON FIVE and Tito JACKSON and Marlon JACKSON and Jermaine JACKSON and Michael JACKSON and Jackie  JACKSON

Read more at NME

Michael’s Music Genius In Song

Source: The Daily Star | Time | All Things Michael


From enlisting Eddie Van Halen for a guitar solo to borrowing the refrain “Mama-se, mama-sa, mama-coo-sa” from a Cameroonian saxophonist, Michael Jackson’s very best songs drew from influences far and wide. In remembrance of him on his fifth death anniversary (June 25), Here are the top six examples of the musical genius of the King of Pop.

6. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (1979)
This was the first song Jackson had full creative control over as a singer and songwriter, and it proved he was more than just a sweet kid. “Don’t Stop” came out squarely at the end of the disco era, and yet it’s so filled with energy and instruments — trumpet, flugelhorn, electric piano — that it doesn’t sound the least bit dated.

5. Never Can Say Goodbye (1971)
At 12, Michael’s voice is noticeably deeper than on earlier Jackson 5 songs — and deeper than on a lot of his later solo stuff too. In the verse, he ramps up the emotion gradually, easing his way up the scale until he bursts into the chorus, hitting all the high notes with astounding clarity.

4. Billie Jean (1983)
Based on a real-life incident in which a woman accused Jackson of fathering her twins, the song almost didn’t make it onto “Thriller” because Quincy Jones hated the bass line. Thumping and fraught, it feels like the soundtrack to a late-night walk through a bad neighbourhood. It successfully makes Jackson sound dangerous, which is no small feat.

3. I Want You Back (1969)
The effortlessness with which Jackson fuses the influence of Sly Stone and James Brown with his own innocent yelping is part of the appeal, but the whole song flies by with a whimsy and sweetness that was Jackson’s calling card well into his mid-20s. Only a person with the hardest of hearts could hear the chord progression of the Jackson 5’s greatest song and not get up and dance.

2. Man in the Mirror (1988)
Beyond offering a fleeting glimpse of autobiography (“I’m starting with the man in the mirror/ I’m asking him to change his ways”), it’s one of Jackson’s most powerful vocals and accessible social statements, not to mention the best-ever use of a gospel choir in a pop song.

1. Beat It (1983)
Jackson never got much credit for being a pioneer, but his melding of rock and R&B preceded the meeting of Run-DMC and Aerosmith by years. Besides featuring one of the best guitar solos in pop history (provided free of charge by Eddie Van Halen) it’s the best example of Jackson’s ability to bridge moods and genres. It’s tense and spooky, it rocks, and yet you can’t help but to dance to it. It’s Jackson’s best.


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7 Michael Jackson Songs That Deserve More Attention

Sources: | All Things Michael


CLEVELAND, Ohio – It’s been five years since the world lost one of its greatest hit makers.

News of Michael Jackson’s death consumed search engines and social media, changing the way we view celebrity culture. Yet, it was Jackson’s life and his music that left the biggest impact.

Everyone knows the huge hits like “Billie Jean,” “Bad” and “Beat It” (the list goes on). Yet, even Jackson, one of the most listened to artists of all time, has a few under-appreciated gems in his catalog. Here are seven:

“Just Good Friends” (featuring Stevie Wonder)

On the Stevie Wonder assisted “Just Good Friends,” Jackson goes into full 1980s funk mode, producing the sort of nostalgic factor that holds up well today. “Just Good Friends” was one of just two songs not released as a single from the album “Bad,” which is probably why it didn’t get as much attention as it deserved.


Jackson’s most underrated album is his 1991 new jack swing opus “Dangerous.” So it’s no surprise that the album’s fantastic title track slipped under the radar. Perhaps more than any other track, “Dangerous” captures Jackson’s knack for the dance-heavy pop of new jack swing. In fact, had Jackson gone on to produce more tracks like “Dangerous,” his career probably would have continued to thrive throughout the 1990s.

“They Don’t Really Care About Us”

Jackson focused more and more on social commentary during the mid-to-late 1990s, which is maybe why his “HIStory” album didn’t fare as well with critics or fans. “Scream” and “You Are Not Alone” were standouts on the charts, but “They Don’t Really Care About Us” showcases Jackson as his most inventive during that period. He wrote and produced the fist-pumping rock/hip-hop anthem that has aged very well.

“You Rock My World”

The last hit Jackson produced while he was alive was “You Rock My World,” a song that these days gets lost in the shuffle of early 2000s R&B. You have to erase the corny images of the video featuring Chris Tucker, but at its core “You Rock My World” is a brilliant soul song that underscores Jackson’s chemistry with co-writer Rodney Jerkins.

“Baby Be Mine”

It’s really hard to say there’s an underappreciated song on “Thriller,” the greatest selling album of all time, but if there is one it’s “Baby Be Mine.” The song lacks the epic nature of singles like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” Plus, it follows “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” one of the greatest album openers ever. Still, “Baby Be Mine” is just as well written as any of those songs. It probably fits in better with the music from “Off The Wall,” an album some consider to be superior to “Thriller.”

“Working Day and Night”

After the brilliance of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” just about anything on Jackson’s breakthrough solo album seemed a little subdued. Yet, you could make the case that “Working Day and Night” is the best pure dance track on “Off the Wall.” The song’s percussion (some of the best you will ever here on a Jackson track) was the blueprint for Jackson’s posthumous, Timbaland-produced single “Love Never Felt So Good.”

“Ain’t No Sunshine”

Jackson showed early flashes of brilliance on his first two solo albums, “Got to Be There” and “Ben.” Yet, the best indication that we were witnessing an artist whose biggest days were still yet to come was Jackson’s cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine.” The Bill Withers classic is a soul tune drenched in pain and heartache. To here Jackson capture that, as a younger teenager, is something to behold.


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Michael Jackson: A Look Back At Seven Of His Greatest Music Videos

Source: E Online – By Lily Harrison| All Things Michael

As well as being a hitmaker, dancer, actor and all-round performer, Michael Jacksonrevolutionized music videos.

The King of Pop created so many video masterpieces that it’s hard to pick which were the most groundbreaking.

On the five-year anniversary of his death, E! News takes a look back at seven of his most memorable music videos that were game changers for the music industry. Check them out now!

1. “Thriller”: This goes without saying, the music video for the single set the gold standard for what was to come from the singer. The almost 14-minute version was MTV’s first world premiere video and a defining moment in his illustrious career. Plus, zombies!

2. “Billie Jean”: Who could forget the suit, the famous white socks and the lit-up steps as Jackson showed off his trademark dance moves. The video incorporated so many of his signature styles that it will forever live on as one of the singer’s most iconic videos.

3. “Black or White”: The 1991 video debuted with an audience of over 500 million viewers, which was the most-watched music video ever at the time. The technique used to morph people’s faces onto one another was rare at the time and was met with rave reviews.

4. “Bad”: The full 18-minute short film was directed by none other than Martin Scorseseand took cues from West Side Story. Jackson’s 1986 hit quickly became one of the most famous songs and videos to date.

5. “Scream”: This music video made headlines after it was revealed that it cost approximately $7 million to make. It also caused a stir because it starred the singer’s famous sister, Janet Jackson.

6. “Remember the Time”: In 1992, Jackson starred alongside Eddie MurphyIman,Magic Johnson and more in the Egyptian-themed video.

7. “Smooth Criminal”: The 1987 video unveiled his classic anti-gravity lean forward and was later adapted into a short film that was the centerpiece of the film Moonwalker.

Read more: E Online

PHOTOS: Mourning the loss of Michael Jackson

Terrace Martin Can’t Stop Singing The Praises Of Michael Jackson’s ‘Off The Wall’

Source: The Smoking Section – By J. Tinsley / All Things Michael

Michael Jackson Receives An Award

Want to test the knowledge of “music heads” while igniting one of the all-time great debates? Ask a group of people five simple words.

Off The Wall or Thriller?”

For Terrace Martin, the next three minutes and 49 seconds etch his answer in stone. The immensely talented musician from the Left Coast waxes all sorts of poetics about The King of Pop’s fifth solo album in part three of his “Influences” video series.

It’s difficult denying the impact and the all-around complexities that made Wall such a stand-alone project. The melodies, the mesh of styles, the fingerprints from some of music’s most iconic names like Wonder, Temperton, Jones, McCartney and more, the 1979 classic truly was a “gumbo of greatness” as T-Mart puts it. And yet, it’s next to impossible to deny an album like Thriller, a project which literally captivated the entire world.

The positive in all this, though? Some will side with OTW while others pledge their life savings and first born to Thriller. And they’ll do so knowing at the root of the equation, no true wrong answer exists.

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Hal Leonard Releases “Best Bass Lines Ever” Bass Play-Along Volume 46

Source: No Treble – By News Team


Hal Leonard has extended their “Bass Play-Along” series with the release of Best Bass Lines Ever: Bass Play-Along Volume 46.

As with all books in the Bass Play-Along series, Best Bass Lines Ever features tab, song audio and backing tracks.

The paperback edition comes with access to download/streaming audio to help you along.

Transcriptions include Rush’s “YYZ”, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” Def Leppard’s “Hysteria,” Yes’ “Roundabout,” Guns ’N Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” The Beatles’ “Taxman,” David Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure” and more.


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Watch Michael Jackson’s Amazing Spins Through The Years

Source: Idolator/ MJ – Upbeat / Gif – By


From the Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back” in 1970 to Michael Jackson‘s “Love Never Felt So Good” this spring, the King Of Pop has been entertaining us with a dazzling flurry of hit singles, record-breaking albums, stunning live performances and, particularly, jaw-dropping dance moves over the past five decades. Granted, we now have to watch those moves and performances in retrospect…which is exactly what we did in the wake of the recent release of MJ’s posthumous album Xscape.

Sure, there are many signature steps Jackson had that remain emblazoned on our minds: the moonwalk: that leg kick; the, um, crotch grab. But we decided to focus on his famous spins over the years for our latest Idolator Instant compilation.

In the video clip above, you’ll see a young, teen-aged Michael twirling effortlessly through various TV performances with his brothers. As the years moved on and his solo albums like Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad began smashing sales records, he kept his trademark spin going on the stage and in the then-flourishing medium of music videos.

Further albums like Dangerous, HIStory and Invincible followed, and despite the heavy trappings of fame and personal issues that plagued the entertainer in the later years of his career — or perhaps because of them — MJ kept turning rapidly while performing before our very eyes.

Click play above to watch Michael Jackson spin through the decades during his monumental reign as the one true King Of Pop


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