Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, Fri., Dec. 8, 2006
Visionary: The Video Singles (Epic)
For the hardcore pop fan on your shopping list, Visionary, 20 of Michael Jackson's hit singles and videos, is the splurge of choice. Younger fans of the troubled singer might get a kick out of seeing and hearing Jacko before he was wacko, although anyone older than age 30 might cringe at the sight of a happier, browner Jackson circa 1979. The 20-DualDisc Visionary spans two decades, from the delightful disco of "Rock With You" to the dull and droning "Blood on the Dance Floor." Most of the tracks come with remixes, and most of them are execrable. The "Masters at Work" remix of "Rock With You" is categorically awful, like an amateur DJ's audition tape for a job spinning at a bar mitzvah. However, the New Jack Jazz rendition of "Remember the Time" is fairly interesting, and breathes new life into a likely forgotten song. It's the videos that are the golden ticket here, if only because they provide a visual document of Jackson's journey to bughouse. The effervescent young man of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" is angry, paranoid, and surrounded by guitarists with horrifically huge wigs in "Dirty Diana" (1987). And while the video for "Black or White" is a hot mess, its expression of outrage at the specter of racism is powerful nonetheless. Visionary mercifully encapsulates Jackson in his heyday, when he was still a powerful cultural force and before his life became a punch line.