The legendary, late, great Michael Jackson’s Bad album will see a re-release 25 years after it was released in 11987. Here we have a video featuring a previously unheard track entitled “Don’t Be Messin’ Round.” The single was originally slated to appear on the project in the late ’80s, but obviously didn’t make the cut. Take a listen above.
EXCLUSIVE: Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round Review
Presented as the first unreleased track off the BAD 25 campaign to be released as a bonus cut on the forthcoming I Just can’t Stop Loving You single, Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round is a song that already has a history among MJ fans and connoisseurs. Way back in July 2009, legendary sound engineer and longtime Jackson collaborator Bruce Swedien revealed to columnist Roger Friedman that the track was just — simply put — mindblowing: « Michael plays piano on it, and it’s just beautiful. » He added: « Oh my God, there’s nothing like it. » He also stated that Jackson plays the piano on it, a feat that has always been underestimated (he also plays drums on Morphine and keyboards & synthesizers on the lost and underrated track Children’s Holiday, a song Jackson penned for the Japanese band J-Friends in 1998 and also recorded on his own).
So far, the sole book to document the song was Chris Cadman’s & Creaig Halstead’s reference book (yet unmatched in the UK and the U.S.) For The Record. A very short snippet of the song was leaked on YouTube some time ago. But that was it. Until now.
Swedien made it clear that the track was intended for the Thriller album. It finally did not make the final cut. Jackson had a history — like other artists — to develop a song and to discard it at the very last minute to keep the whole set of songs as tight and coherent as possible. The left off songs happened to be cornerstone and iconic ones that were shaped for further releases. Earth Song, first intended for the Dangerous album under the working title What About Us was reworked and polished for HIStory.
Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round is a track that had been in the pipelines many times. It was first considered for the Thriller album, then BAD, and then for further projects. But the version to be released is the actual mix crafted in 1987. Sound engineer Matt Forger mixed the song for the BAD 25 project and made it clear that the song will be presented « as is »: « I mixed the « Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round » track from tapes of that era. No new parts were allowed, not even parts that were recorded after ’87 but still done under Michael’s supervision ».
Composed and produced by Michael Jackson, Don’t Be Messin’ Round is part of the demos Jackson spent enough time on to draft several strong melodic and rhythmic ideas. The chords and the rhythm of the track are quite reminiscent of the sunny and cool mid-tempo version of P.Y.T. (the original demo that surfaced in 2004 on the The Ultimate Collection box set). Some ideas and notes also sound like the ones already heard in Streetwalker, especially in the verses. Jackson sings most of the lyrics in yogurt, meaning that he still had a few steps to go before he could include the song on one of his abums. At 2:23, Jackson dives into the « bridge » section of the song, that actually is — in this version — an instrumental section. The catchy and sunny hook is back and heads to the fade-out of the song. Don’t Be Messin’ Round is another door open to Michael Jackson’s unique creative process. The King of Pop was used to tape melodic ideas — orally — on a tape recorder and then get musicians to help him craft the track, layer after layer.
Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round is a treat just before the actual BAD 25 set hits the shelves. The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music have joined forces to gather genuine and untouched recordings from the iconic times of BAD. Ok, there will be some remixes as well. When it comes to Kings of music, we shall have an eye on some of the the win-win projects by the Estate of Elvis Presley. In 2002, they released this great remix of Just A Little Conversation by JXL. It was the sole new remix included as the final track of a cool greatest hits packaghe. This remix sold the whole set. It may just take one cool, hard, club banging remix to make the re-release of BAD a celebration of the original album and an attempt to reach a new generation of fans. To be continued…