The FULL version of Don’t Be Messin’ Around (planned as the B side on the re-release of I Just Can’t Stop Loving You) has finally been made available for downloading as of today!
This is what Bruce Swedien had to say about this track as far back as 2009:
Michael Jackson’s unreleased song his ‘greatest ever work’
Bruce Swedien revealed the singer had completed a powerful track entitled Don’t Be Messin’ Around.
Featuring what was described as a mesmerising solo performance, it is expected to be available to millions of fans once the terms of Jackson’s estate are settled.
Mr Swedien said of the ballad: “Michael plays piano on it, and it’s just beautiful.” He added: “Oh my God, there’s nothing like it.”
Hmm…his greatest work ever? Well, that’s a tall order considering you would have to pit this song against the likes of Billie Jean, Beat It, Earth Song, Man In The Mirror, Wanna Be Starting Something, Jam, and oh, only about a hundred or so others I could name. My initial impression of it is that its certainly a catchy enough, feel good song. It has a nice groove, and I’m not sure if it’s just my ears, but I am pretty sure I detect a little Dancing In The Streets sample.
But regardless of whether you agree with Swedien that this ranks as Michael’s “greatest work ever” one thing can’t be denied…Michael’s piano playing here is hot!
Okay, it’s hotter than hot. It’s on fire, baby!
And that just may be this track’s biggest crucial selling point. For years, it’s been debated in serious music circles as to whether Michael Jackson-undeniably a great entertainer, singer, dancer and songwriter (albeit respect for the last has been somewhat slow in coming around)-could legitimately be called a musician. Michael himself was very modest about his abilities as a musician (albeit he could beat box like nobody’s business!). At best, many have ranked him as someone who had some “fair” ability-he was known to be able to play piano, guitar and drums “a little.”
Prince fans have always loved rubbing it in our faces. Who’s better? “Well, Prince can play instruments…” many fans would condescendingly sneer, as if that quality alone put a definitive end to the arguement.
Well, not so fast. As “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” proves, even we fans don’t completely have Michael pegged…yet. He remains, as always, an enigma, a man of many mysteries and talents. The ivory work of Don’t Be Messin’ Around is certainly not that of a fair to mediocre talent. The piano line isn’t just an added element to this track, it is its entire backbone and lifeblood. It is, in essence, the quality that lifts this track beyond being just a catchy but mediocre little dance song. That piano line gives it some serious bossa nova SWAG.
And I realize this is simply another means of Michael speaking to us, yet again. He spoke to us through his passionate and expressive voice. He spoke to us through his dancing feet and incredible choreography. He spoke to us through his creative imagination that was given outlet through the medium of film.
But how often did he speak to us solely through the magic of his fingers on a keyboard? Some of his closest friends and acquaintances can vouch for some of those moments, but for the rest of us, they have been preciously few-and certainly preciously few on record!
I, for one, have always been one of those who said it didn’t matter if Michael wasn’t that great of a musician. Certainly, he had so many other extraordinary talents that more than made up for that deficiency (and Prince, I’ve always been proud to point out, is certainly no dancer!).
But now, after giving several good listens to this track in its entirety, I find myself once again in the (admittedly somewhat embarrassing) position of reassessing everything I thought I knew about Michael. Even in death, he never stops surprising me. It seems there is always a new piece to the puzzle, and that the realization I have to face, ultimately, is that the man I always think I have gotten to know is still several steps ahead of me, and then some.
In short, Michael never stops surprising. In a very good way.
I learned something today. Michael Jackson wasn’t just a musician with a fair ability. Like everything else he ever did, he had an extraordinary gift-and he didn’t go halfway. Give a good listen to the intricate, jazzy patterns his piano playing weaves throughout this track. This is the work of a fine and talented musician, whose piano playing here ranks right up there with the best I’ve heard from Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and even the great Duke Ellington. Now understand, I’m not saying Michael was better than those guys, but based on this track, I would now say with beaming confidence that Michael could have certainly held his own alongside them-and that is saying a lot!
Oh Michael, you were far, far too modest! Why didn’t we get to hear this long ago?
As a track, I still say Don’t Be Messin’ Around has a long way to go to rank as Michael Jackson’s greatest work. But it’s also worth keeping in mind that what we are hearing now is just a demo, and as always with demos, it is really only the raw potential of what might have been. However, I do agree absolutely with Swedien’s comment that Michael’s piano playing is “just beautiful” and that “there’s nothing like it.”
Which makes it all the sadder to look over my last paragraph and to see those words I just wrote, that this track “is really only the raw potential of what might have been.”
But we have it now. Enjoy it for what it is.
Meanwhile, I think I’m gonna go find me some Prince fans so I can rub this in their face (okay, just kidding guys, you know I luv me some Prince, too!). Well, maybe I’ll have to rub it in their faces just a little bit…
UPDATE (6/05/12): Joe Vogel has written a great review of this track, check it out!