It’s a coincidence: the first new book about Michael Jackson is on its way, due from the publisher on July 27. It had been set for October, but the publisher’Hal Leonard Books’has moved up the release date.
“In the Studio with Michael Jackson” is written by Bruce Swedien, Jackson’s premier producer and recording engineer. Swedien, working under Quincy Jones, and then Michael himself, recorded all of Michael’s major solo albums. He’s the man behind “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Dangerous,” and “HIStory.” He won four Grammy Awards along the way, and was nominated for 12.
I spoke with Swedien today by phone from his studio. He told me that despite stories on the wire, there is NOT a lot of extra Jackson material from the studio that can be repackaged or released. He said, “There might be one or two songs that didn’t make it from each album. But they’re not finished. There aren’t vocals for everything.”
One song Swedien does think was completed but not used is one of his favorites. “It’s called “Don’t Be Messin’ Around.” Michael plays piano on it, and it’s just beautiful. Oh my god, there’s nothing like it.”
Swedien is still grieving over Jackson’s death although they hadn’t worked together in a while. And, of course, Jackson died owing him money’about a half million dollars. I don’t expect Swedien’s going to come looking for it since he hasn’t already. He told me, “I don’t say anything bad about Michael in my book, it’s nothing but good stuff.”