Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix

Michael Jackson

Epic, 1997

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


The most intriguing thing in my mind about the late Michael Jackson is the character of the man himself. Throughout the ‘80s, Jackson rose to become the most powerful and wealthy figure the entertainment world had ever seen. Here was a young guy who was as shrewd as they come, and along with his manager Frank Delio and lawyer John Branca, Jackson went about life with one major goal always at the forefront of his mind and that was money. 

In private, Jackson and his cohorts set about manipulating the media and making fools of them on a constant basis, but it seems no one had the foresight to warn Jackson that this would one day make him sorry. It was, of course, Jackson himself who agreed to be photographed and interviewed in 1984 as long as the article used the word “bizarre” to describe him no less than six times. It was Jackson who leaked the story about trying to purchase the bones of the “Elephant Man” and it was Jackson who concocted the ridiculous tale about sleeping in an oxygen chamber when he knew that the photo he posed for was being shopped around for sale. 

When it came to his private life, Jackson was as guarded and protective of his privacy as even the most reclusive stars. He carried on the charade of “dating” Brooke Shields until way past its use-by-date and he spent more time in the company of young boys and his pet chimp Bubbles than he did with adults. This was because – as Jackson would tell it – he saw himself as Peter Pan, which was how he learned to cope with having his childhood stolen from him by his domineering father and mean, bullying brothers. 

Why is all of this relevant to an album review? Because following the most serious of child-abuse allegations made against Jackson by one of his “special friends” (in this case a thirteen-year-old boy), Michael Jackson’s carefully constructed kingdom came crashing down all around him. Following the cancellation of his my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Dangerous World Tour and finally reaching an out of court settlement with his accuser, Jackson went about trying to rebuild his image and what was left of his career. The result was the hate-filled and spiteful HIStory album, on which the master-manipulator cast himself as the ultimate victim. 

Bad things happened to Michael Jackson because he was rich and famous and people were jealous of him – in some cases, this was even inspired by their racism. How anyone could buy that a man as shrewd, wealthy and powerful as Jackson was also such a pushover and naïve about the ways of life is truly fascinating. So HIStory (coupled with his first “Best Of” compilation to encourage sales) was easily Jackson’s most displeasing and unlistenable album to date. Only two of its songs “Earth Song” and “Stranger In Moscow,” could be considered worthy of his talents. I have a feeling he knew this himself and that was the reason for releasing what was essentially a sequel to the first true flop of Jackson’s career. 

Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix was immediately more focused, funky and sharper than anything on the previous set. The set kicks off with five brand new songs, which are followed by eight remixes of tracks from HIStory. “Blood On The Dance Floor” opens the CD and to this day remains one of Jackson’s greatest songs. To think he left it off both the Dangerous and HIStory albums is staggering. “Morphine” is not only another stone-cold Jackson classic but following his death, it took on a whole new haunting element, especially during the orchestral break where Jackson is almost crying the words “Demerol, oh God, he’s taking Demerol.” The verses where the character is injecting his lover with heavy shots of morphine are equally disturbing, but the track is absolute killer. 

“Superfly Sister” is easily one of the most funk-fueled songs in Jackson’s cannon, which again just about tops everything that appeared on HIStory. “Ghosts” and “Is It Scary” are cut from the same cloth as they continue Jackson’s lifelong fascination with the spirit world. The former is the superior track, but they make a good pair and finish out the “new” section of material here.  Of the remixed stuff, “Money” is an improvement on the original, but “Scream Louder” and “Earth Song” offer nothing new. “This Time Around” lifts the quality stakes before the disc closes out with a horribly dated remix of “History.” 

This album is really a mixed bag, but it’s still well above average as the five new tracks are all worthy of Jackson’s undoubted talent. When you take into account the woeful material on 2001’s Invincible, the weak HIStory and patchy Dangerous album from 1991, Blood On The Dance Floor is my pick for the best thing Jackson put out since Thriller.

Rating: A-

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© 2014 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic, and is used for informational purposes only.