L.S. Media Rating *****

New Michael Jackson tracks? Yes please.

This was my first thought when a good friend handed me over a copy of the Immortal album. Having been a fan of Michael Jackson since I was about six, listening to my parents’ History tapes in the car when going on long trips and practising the moonwalk with my brother (aged ten at the time.)  I was pretty devastated to learn about his death back in 2009 and anything that prolongs his legacy is, in my mind, well worth some attention. I did not know this when I first listened to the album but it is in fact the soundtrack to Cirque De Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour, which debuted last October in Montreal and dominates as a permanent show in Las Vegas.

I must admit that I did feel some pangs of disappointment at first when I glanced on the back of the CD cover and saw that most of them were simply his original tracks, with ‘Immortal Version’ printed next to the titles. I didn’t want to merely experience some random dj’s tacky take on Jackson’s work which, in my imagination, could only be dance mixes at best and then try and search for the essence of his originality somewhere in there. This sounded too much like hard work. Luckily, however, I was not prepared for what I actually heard when I played the album from beginning to end and then played it from beginning to end a second time and a third and a fourth and again! Four weeks later, it’s still very much a part of my regular playlist rota. I have now decided that just like the rest of Michael Jackson’s collection of successful albums, this one’s right up there with the timeless classics.

The album opens with an unheard track (at least by me, at any rate) Workin’ Day And Night, a catchy, upbeat tune that reminds us of Michael Jackson’s inherent ability to make us want to get up and dance. Following this, the Immortal Intro takes us deeper into what this album is about – celebrating the best of Michael Jackson and his innovative genius tendency to think outside of the box and take music to new levels, in a sensual and (in the instance of this album) theatrical manner that’s undoubtedly ahead of its time. Through the sound of a radio being tuned in, the Immortal Intro blends sections of songs like Remember The Time, Another Part of Me, and I’ll Be There (along with other Jackson 5 favourites.)

Apart from one or two ballad moments, like Childhood; You Are Not Alone, which is mixed with I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, involving a duet with Jackson and Siedah Garret (during which they sing a verse and chorus in what I think is either Spanish or Italian – either way it’s a nice spin on an original hit) and the full version of Jackson 5’s I’ll Be There, the rest of this album is a pretty mind blowing roller coaster of explosive mixes and mash-ups of Jackson’s greatest songs, done tactfully, smoothly and innovatively by producer Kevin Antunes.

A good first track to listen to would be the Immortal Megamix which comes towards the end of the album and samples Can You Feel It, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Billie Jean, and Black Or White. In my humble opinion though, this is nothing compared to the Is It Scary/Threatened mix, which highlights the more theatrical aspect of the album; almost like a musical coming from within the ex-king of pop’s mind itself, as well as crowd pleasing takes on favourites Thriller, Smooth Criminal and Dangerous. Particular fans of the Jackson 5 will love the Jackson 5 Medley, showcasing the best of the brother band and Jackson’s roots.

The Immortal album is simply another reminder of why Michael Jackson was an impeccable artist and extremely ahead of his time. Having said that though, producer Kevin Antunes, who re-imaged and remixed the tracks, is deserving of most of the credit here. It’s great to see a current creative mind doing justice to the music of one of the most inventive musicians of our time. Its stuff that like this that will ensure Michael Jackson’s music will never go away and I’m more than o.k. with that.