It should be news to no one that Michael Jackson, in the midst of becoming musical supernova, also revolutionized what was once treated as a casual marketing tool by most record labels and recording artists: the musical video. Ever-conscious of the power of image, The King of Pop applied the same exacting standards to the visual representations of his songs as he did to the lyrics, production and vocals, transforming them into stunning mini-musicals and movies. Those who are satisfied by occasionally cueing them up via youtube may not see the point of yet another DVD collection, but hardcore MJ fans will certainly enjoy how his masterpieces are restored and re-mastered and in this new three-disc set.
Visions comes in the form of a 6x9 fold-over case and a 30 page book that's encased in a durable plastic sleeve. The cover is created with 18 ‘dancing' photo images, and after a brief forward, each page of the book contains stills or insider shots from each video, with songwriter and album credits, director listings and even the primary production location. Each video begins with an updated montage (the red leather jacket unzips to real "Beat It," an Egyptian motif dissolves into swirling dust before revealing "Remember the Time," etc.), and where fans will really get their money's worth is from the significantly upgraded sound and picture quality: the lines and colors are clearer, taking the viewer back to that magical moment when it was exerienced for the very first time, and the sharper sound provides equal richness and resonance to any dialogue or effects layered on top of the music. This enhances the percussive backbone of "Smooth Criminal," the plaintive, swelling strings in "Childhood" and even for the gospel-tinged "Cry," the only video where MJ makes no appearance, but his grandiose vision for the song is practically tangible, punctuated with atmospheric angles, a melting pot of extras and lush, vivid landscapes, which broaden its scope and impact.
For those who are wondering where The Jacksons are acknowledged, that would be Disc 3: gloriously revitalized versions of "Blame It On the Boogie," "Enjoy Yourself" and thankfully, "Can You Feel It," which, on previous collections, had the music washed out by the voiceover and sound effects---here, however, they're on even keel instead of in competition, which serves to magnify the song's magnanimous message. Also included is the alternate ‘prison version' of "They Don't Care About Us," "Say Say Say," "Why" (his collaboration with Tito's sons, 3T) and the rarely-seen video for the underrated ballad, "One More Chance." The straight-forward storyline----MJ performing in an empty club on chairs and tabletops as an adoring crowd cheers his every move----creates a fitting end.
31 videos, running four and a half hours long, that encompass nearly 40 years of groundbreaking innovation and entertainment. Whether you want to treat yourself or that still-grieving MJ fan in your life, it's indeed worth the time and money to rediscover these incredible Visions. Enthusiastically Recommended.
By Melody Charles