HIStory: Past, Present & Future, Book I – Michael Jackson – 1995
Claimed Sales: 20m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
HIStory: Past Present and Future, Book I is such an interesting album is to consider in context. Disc one here is a tightly packed Greatest Hits collection, while the second is a full length follow up to 1991’s Dangerous. The reasoning behind this is obviously the controversy surrounding Jackson in the 2 years prior to HIStory’s release, where his poor relationship with the media hit new lows thanks to the allegations of child sexual abuse. It’s impossible to hear HIStory out of this context and given the album is pieced together from various recordings during these years it’s quite literally all over the place. Opener Scream gives the best first impression for a Jackson album in ages, even if it just proves that sister Janet was probably making better music at this point of the 90s. They Don’t Care About Us follows this in a similar vein, full of attitude and is genuinely thrilling. After these though the album begins to fall apart. There’s a seemingly random cover of Come Together that was recorded nearly a decade before this album, the overly sentimental version of Charlie Chaplin’s Smile is just as strange. The R Kelly ballad You Are Not Alone has always been one of my least favourite Michael Jackson songs and here it manages to escape being the worst down tempo moment. That is surely Free Willy 2 soundtrack Childhood which is so horrendous that makes you genuinely question if it’s the same artist who delivers the stand out Stranger In Moscow just a few songs previous. Earth Song is still as ridiculous in it’s album form as it was during the ‘Michael Jackson Is Jesus’ Brits performance, while the title track sounds like someone fell on the mixing board while recording yet another inspirational choir led song. It’s a shame that there’s so many tracks like this though as there are some gems here. Tabloid Junkie follows an opening of clips from news reports about Jackson with the strongest MJ hook since Bad with ‘Just because you read it in the magazine or see it on the TV screen don’t make it factual’. Of course, HIStory also manages to squeeze the prior years of Jackson’s career into 15 tracks. It’s a strong greatest hits collection, featuring a nice mixture of tracks from his previous 4 studio albums, but there’s some glaring omissions. The boring Heal The World appearing over #1 worldwide hit and top 5 best MJ track Dirty Diana? Human Nature being snubbed for She’s Out of My Life? Having to listen to that painful talking section of Paul McCartney duet The Girl Is Mine? No, No, No. It’s obvious why a hits collection was tagged onto HIStory and t’s telling that they set it as the first disc here reminding people that they do still like Jackson’s music, even with the current controversy. HIStory Past, Present and Future, Book I one of the most interesting album releases of the decade, but sadly this is down to the context and not the quality of the new album itself.
Rating: 5/10 (Ignoring the first disc of hits of course)
Will I listen again?: I don’t think so.
Best Track: Tabloid Junkie was the highlight of HIStory for me, that chorus line really caught my ear. I won’t even bother to try and pick my favourite from the hits collection.