Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Be Messin’ Around”: Hear The ‘Bad’-Era Demo
In the lead-up to the 25th anniversary re-release of Michael Jackson’s 1987 album Bad (i.e. the LP he put out after Thriller), a demo from the singer’s vaults called “Don’t Be Messin’ Around”, which was recorded during the Bad sessions, has surfaced. The track was added as a B-side to a special Walmart re-release of Bad’s lead single “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, and it turns out the song has quite a storied past — in fact, it was considered for inclusion on no less than four different Jackson album’s over the years! Alas, this rough version is finally seeing the light of day this week. Give “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” a spin after the jump.
Michael Jackson — “Don’t Be Messin’ Around”
You’ll note that this demo of “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” is a rough one. The lyrics aren’t fully there, and you can hear Jackson snapping his fingers, ad-libbing, giving instructions and mimicking the funky guitar as the songs fades out.
But according to The Atlantic, that’s just how the singer’s estate wants these demos to be for this re-release:
The Michael Jackson estate and Sony Legacy are leaving Jackson’s work raw and unembellished this time around, in contrast to the King of Pop’s first posthumous album, 2010’s controversial Michael. The tracks will thus be less polished but more authentic, organic and true to what Jackson left behind. Similar to the critically acclaimed 2009 documentary, This Is It, the goal is to provide an intimate glimpse of the artist in his element. The listener, in essence, is brought into the studio with Michael Jackson as he works out a variety of musical ideas in his follow-up to the best-selling album of all time.
…”One of the main intentions is to show that these are works in progress,” says Matt Forger, a sound engineer and longtime Jackson friend and collaborator. “To pull the curtain back. To actually see Michael in his natural work environment, how he directs, his sense of humor, his focus.”
According to The Atlantic, “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” was first developed somewhat in the studio when Jackson was recording Thriller. The track wasn’t fully recorded, and ultimately didn’t make the cut. The singer revisited it in 1986 for possible consideration for Bad (where, in the recording sessions, it wound up being eight minutes long — though here it appears pared down). But the song got set aside once again by the time producer Quincy Jones was brought in.
The article notes that “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” was a song Jackson was attached to, as he brought it out again during both the Dangerous and HIStory sessions. However, the unfinished tune is just now seeing a release, nearly three years after Jackson’s death.