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Soul - Released January 1, 2009 | UNI - MOTOWN

Released roughly three days after Michael Jackson's passing, The Definitive Collection is a 19-track collection of highlights from his Motown recordings, including the hits he had with his brothers in the Jackson 5. This emphasizes Michael's solo hits over the Jackson 5's -- there are ten cuts of him alone, nine with his brothers (and one of those is an alternate "minus mix" of "I'll Be There") -- which skews this a little bit toward puppy love over bubblegum, something that may be a little too syrupy for some listeners, but there's no denying that for fans lacking a collection of Michael's earliest hits, this is a useful compilation, gathering "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," "Who's Lovin' You," "Never Can Say Goodbye," "Got to Be There," "Rockin' Robin," "Ben," and "Dancing Machine" in one place. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2009 | UNI - MOTOWN

The first of what is sure to be many posthumous releases from Michael Jackson, The Stripped Mixes does indeed contained stripped mixes of 11 Motown hits from Michael and the Jackson Five, mixes that cut each track down to the bare-bones of vocals, bass guitar, and percussion, augmented by the occasional guitar or keyboard. Often, the logic of what is left behind doesn't quite make sense: "I Want You Back" and "ABC" have no drums (or fuzz guitar), so they feel a little tipsy and top-heavy, and it's hard to call "Ben" and "With a Child's Heart" stripped when there are echoes of strings in the background. Since so much of the genius of these recordings lay in the arrangements, having so much of the arrangement absent means that the music just sounds awkward and incomplete, as if it was waiting for the final round of mixing and overdubs. Still, if the purpose of this disc is to draw attention to Michael's vocals, The Stripped Mixes does its job, but just because his voice is pushed front and center does not mean that this is the best place to appreciate his genius. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2013 | UNI - MOTOWN

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Soul - Released January 1, 1984 | UNI - MOTOWN

Once more, Motown pulled a marketing ploy with Michael Jackson material they had in the vault. This time, they remixed it and convinced some people it was a new track. It's a testament to Jackson's appeal at the time that the song actually cracked both the R&B and Pop Top 40, although it didn't get out of the high thirties on either side. This was another incident in Motown's long history that does not rank as one of their better moments. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 1984 | UNI - MOTOWN

If you didn't get The Jackson 5 anthology (now out on CD), then this has some merit. Michael Jackson's solo career really took off when he signed with Epic, so it's questionable as to whether the majority of his Motown songs are really that important. But for the handful of people who missed them the first time around, here's a decent sampling. © Ron Wynn /TiVo
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Soul - Released January 1, 2008 | UNI - MOTOWN

This two-disc set concentrates on Michael Jackson's solo recordings from the early '70s, including "Got to Be There," "Rockin' Robin," and "Ben," as well as a handful of Jackson 5 singles from the same era like "I Want You Back" and "Never Can Say Goodbye." It's fun stuff, but of course it doesn't include anything from Jackson's late-'80s run as the biggest thing in pop music when he was releasing Quincy Jones-produced singles like "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Thriller," and "Bad." But don't let that stop you, because the early stuff is pretty cool, too, and much more endearing. © Steve Leggett /TiVo

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