Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the 1997 Blood On The Dance Floor – HIStory In The Mix album by Michael Jackson. Does this album get you up on your feet, or is it a musical massacre? Read on…
This 13 track album features, like the HIStory album before it (1995), a mixture of new (5) and older (8) songs – with the older tracks receiving modern remixes.
First up is the new title track and lead single, Blood On The Dance Floor, but this song is sadly quite weak. I struggle to really hear Michael’s vocals in the verses of this song (reading the lyrics, it seems he’s singing about someone called Susie). Whilst this musically sounds like it fits amongst his work, it does feel like it may have been hanging around since his Dangerous album (1991).
This is followed by Morphine – a song about drug addiction. It features Slash from Guns ‘n’ Roses who delivers some wonderfully snarling guitar throughout. Michael’s vocals are a little clearer here. It includes an audio clip from The Elephant Man film. The song suddenly breaks to give the sound of medical equipment beeping in the background – with Michael delivering some lovely vocals against strings and piano. It soon returns to snarling guitar.
Superfly Sister is up next. Again, this feels a little dated musically.. and like it was something unfinished from the Bad or Dangerous sessions. To its credit, it does have a nice bass line, but the rest of the track has little more to offer. Again, he’s singing about someone called Susie.
Next up is Ghosts – a co-write with Teddy Riley. This track has some lovely sounds in it, with some ethereal sounds that lend themselves perfectly to the song’s title. This was released as a double-A side single with HIStory, and it’s a really nice track. It was also part of a film by the same name.
Drawing the new tracks to a close is Is It Scary, which also served as the third and final single from this album. It starts off with a very familiar Bond Theme chord sequence, and whilst it keeps referring back to this, the rest of the song feels like a mixture of songs.
Now we’re into remix territory, and first up is a remix of the great Michael and Janet Jackson duet Scream Louder (Flyte Tyme Remix), which seems to offer little more than the original version, other than some extra guitars and strings, and a different instrumental section. It weighs in at almost 5m 30s.
This is followed by Money (Fire Island Radio Edit), a remix of another HIStory album track. I think that this version is actually better than the original version. It has quite an upbeat tempo, and it feels like a much better-formed song than what I can remember the original being.
The unmistakable tagging by Wyclef Jean can be found within seconds of next song 2 Bad (Refugee Camp Mix), as he makes sure that he says his own name, and that of his production company. With the original, Michael duetted with basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, but this time the Refugee Camp’s own John Forte is taking the mic. There are some nice scratching sounds on this, and a slowed sampled version of Beat It also makes an appearance.
The pace picks up, as Stranger In Moscow (Tee’s In-House Club Mix) bounces in. After a bit of a messy start, a sudden switch brings in the verses and the classic Tee’s mixing style. This really brings something fresh to this song, helping lift the song effortlessly with some great Italia House pianos and pumping beats that would have made any M People remix happy. This remix weighs in at almost 7 minutes, but it doesn’t feel too long.
Up next is This Time Around (D.M. Radio Mix), which opens with some heavy percussion. The original featured Notorious B.I.G. but there’s no sign of him in the credits for this version. This sounds like a much better formed version of this track – and of course the ‘D.M’ is actually David Morales. The bassline, percussion and horn section really help to keep this version pumping.
Remixer Hani gets his hands on one of the biggest new songs from the HIStory album and provides – Earth Song (Hani’s Club Experience). This gives the song a more ‘world’ music sounding style, as we hear jungle wildlife noises as the mix builds it’s synths and beats up to the inevitable Earth Song piano opening section. Hani takes this piano section and uses it as a catchy device before giving Michael his verses.
This is followed by the R Kelly written track You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix), which at times is a belting track, but also manages to throw in some boring sections. It builds well, but its switching around and dropping out of instruments or samples makes it feel like every one of its 7ms 37s.
The album closes with the clanging beats of HIStory (Tony Moran’s HIStory Lesson), this track is a strong belting track, and one that takes some nice 1996 dance music sounds (I’m thinking Livin’ Joy and Gala) before switching over to house piano vs Michael Jackson. This bit works well, making this remix far more memorable than the original version on HIStory, aided by it’s use of the ‘keep movin’ sample.
Where is Michael Jackson now?
After this album, it wasn’t until 2001 that Michael released any new material in the form of album Invincible. It was therefore his first album completely made from new material since Dangerous in 1991.
After disputes with his label Sony, allegations of child molestations and subsequent acquittal, Michael attempted to resurrect his career but he died in 2009 before he could return to his throne as the ‘King Of Pop’.
POP RESCUE RATING
The album does feel like it is somewhat like a contractual obligation, even more than HIStory did. There’s a few nice points (Ghosts, the Earth Song and HIStory remixes, and Morphine is a good hard track), but there’s little else here. This feels like the MJ brand waining, which it was beginning to do.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1997 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified Platinum, and the biggest selling remix album of all time.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.99 from a British Heart Foundation store.