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The Stripped Mixes

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iTunes Review

Released just a few weeks after his death, The Stripped Mixes features 11 of Michael Jackson's Motown hits, solo and with The Jackson 5, with much—but not all—of the instrumentation removed in order to emphasize the vocals. It's not an attempt at being "unplugged" or a cappella, but rather to present understated presentations of Jackson's best-known early work. (For a cappella versions, check out Pure Michael: Motown A Cappella.) There's still plenty of gospel fire behind "Who's Lovin' You," while "Ben"—his first No. 1 solo hit—is made even lonelier in this context. The more upbeat material—The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," "ABC," "Never Can Say Goodbye"—is interesting, especially for folks who wonder how records are made; key parts of the songs' arrangements are no longer obscured by the electric guitars and keyboards that dominate the original versions. This isn't for everyone, but anybody who loves these songs but has grown fatigued from hearing them so many times will cherish the opportunity to hear them anew.

Customer Reviews

What was the point of this?

"I Want You Back," "I'll Be There," and "ABC" are arguably among the best-produced singles ever released, and their success and enduring status is as much a result of that very production than even Michael's singing. This album strips that brilliance away, so gone is the punch, the drive, the incredible leap-outta-the-speakers sparkle that Motown perfected. What's left sounds like you're listening to a stereo with one busted speaker. In this case, less is less. Willie Nelson did this trick ust a few months ago with the album Naked Willie, where he went back to his 60s recordings and stripped off the strings, backup vocals and other dated production to reveal the overlooked beauty of the songs and performances underneath. Since pretty much everyone, Willie included, always felt those recordings were ruined by the production, it was a release that made perfect sense and makes for a great listen. This "de-mix" of Jackson 5 songs does the exact opposite by stripping the most perfectly produced singles in pop history of the very elements that made them explode in the first place, revealing nothing that you wouldn't hear in the originals using a good set of headphones and a little concentration. Michael was a phenomenal talent, but "I Want You Back" was a true group effort involving the best writers, producers and musicians Motown had at the time. This album proves that in all the wrong ways.

Way to cash in Sony!

Jesus, that didn't take long.

Stripped Dignity

The timing of this release -- on the day of Michael Jackson's memorial service -- is nothing but shameless naked greed. I might have purchased this in a week or two --- but not now, not ever.


Born: August 29, 1958 in Gary, IN

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Michael Jackson wasn't merely the biggest pop star of his era, shaping the sound and style of the '70s and '80s; he was one of the defining stars of the 20th century, a musician who changed the contours of American culture. A preternaturally gifted singer and dancer, Jackson first rose to stardom in 1969 as the 11-year-old frontman for his family's band, the Jackson 5. As remarkable a run as the Jackson 5 had -- at the dawn of the '70s, each of their first four singles went to number one and they...
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