from the Critical List September 11, 1987
Michael Jackson: Bad (Epic). It would be perversely satisfying to report that this is a steaming ball of horse manure, but I am here to tell you that even a person who sleeps in an oxygen tank and has had most of his face chipped off (and the rest apparently hot-waxed) can make a good record. Some vaguely moral impulse insists that this should not be so, if only for the sake of the fable. But look at van Gogh. Look at Elvis. A full deck seems never to have been a prerequisite for making decent art. Michael Jackson's made not only a good record, but a really good record, a record even better, minute for minute, than that one all the fuss was about. Nothing epic here -- just a lot of cannily seductive dance grooves with Michael's quare falsetto burping along on top. (You also get to hear his actual heartbeat -- yep, he's got one -- "recorded by Dr. Eric Chevlen" and "digitally processed in the Synclavier.") The lyrics, written in Jacko's very own brand of English, mostly make a kind of sense. Not always a pleasant sense -- "You're just another part of me," the Captain sings, and, frankly, I'm not sure I like that idea. (And "Smooth Criminal" I don't want to think about at all.) But I like the album, all right, and by God, I'll say so.


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Copyright Robert Lloyd © 1987 and 2002