The 162-track “Ultimate Fan Extras” is a bargain at $82, but is it too much too soon?

The recent release of two massive Michael Jackson anthologies, the most comprehensive sets in his catalog, raises a question about an artist never known for stockpiling songs: Is this it?

The 270 tracks released to iTunes might just have cleaned out the pop legend’s vault a mere four years after his death. No one at Epic or Legacy Recordings would comment on the digital box sets or what’s left in the can.

The Indispensable Collection compiles seven albums, from 1979’s Off the Wall to 2001’sInvincible, plus a live 1988 performance. The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection gathers career-spanning demos, alternate versions, radio edits, remixes, instrumentals and live cuts.

These are the latest lures in a pipeline that began flowing soon after Jackson died of a propofol overdose in 2009 while preparing for his This Is It concert run.

Their arrival coincides with Michael Jackson ONE, a new Cirque du Soleil production in Las Vegas that follows the lucrative touring Cirque show, The Immortal World Tour. They also overlap the ongoing wrongful death suit filed by his mother against AEG Live.

“Why release two anthologies now, when Michael Jackson’s reputation is being tarnished, yet again, in a much-publicized court case?” says George Varga, U-T San Diego pop music critic, who decries “the continuing rush to again cash in on Jackson’s tragic death.”

“Of course, it’s not surprising that this enormously gifted and tragic artist seems to be even more exploited now than when he was alive. But it doesn’t make it any less disconcerting. In the old days — like, you know, a decade or two ago — the estates of dead pop superstars might actually have waited until the fifth anniversary to simultaneously release two mega-compilations. But why wait when opportunity is knocking?”

Billboard editor Joe Levy takes a rosier view, dubbing the 162-track Ultimate‘s $82 price tag “a bit of a bargain,” presuming fans desire five versions each of Remember the TimeBlack or White and One More Chance.

“I don’t think we’ve hit a point where they’ve released too much, and certainly the market doesn’t think so,” says Levy, citing Nielsen SoundScan data indicating that 21.7 million Jackson albums sold between 1991-2009 and 12.3 million since he died.

The question may not be what’s left but “what you do with the assets, how you remix and recombine them,” Levy says. “If you invited collaborators in, what might you be able to create that’s new and lets you hear the music in a new way?

“Michael Jackson wasn’t like 2Pac, someone who went to the studio and just laid down ideas. There were artists like Jimi Hendrix, whose genius was restless and short-lived and whose work has been mined far longer and deeper than you would have imagined. Michael doesn’t appear to be that kind of an artist. I wouldn’t rule out other unheard tracks surfacing, but I wouldn’t count on it.”

He does envision countless reconfigurations, “given how important he was to so many different generations.”

“Look at how many times Jay-Z references him on his current album,” Levy says. “Certain legacy artists continue to sell forever, like Elvis, The Beatles. Michael will be repackaged endlessly and new generations can be introduced to the work through those packages.”

Pointing to The Complete Remix Suite, a recent compilation of retooled Jackson tunes, Levy adds, “In the age of remixes, I would not say this music is over, particularly because so many artists talk about Jackson’s influence on their work. There are any number of rappers, pop stars, R&B artists and veterans who would be thrilled and honored to collaborate on a Michael Jackson record.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/07/17/michael-jackson-anthologies-may-have-emptied-vault/2518467/

The Indispensable Collection (Mastered For iTunes) includes:

Off The Wall

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Rock with You
Workin’ Day and Night
Get on the Floor
Off the Wall
Girlfriend
She’s out of My Life
I Can’t Help It
It’s the Falling in Love
Burn This Disco Out

Thriller

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
Baby Be Mine
The Girl Is Mine (featuring Paul McCartney)
Thriller
Beat It
Billie Jean
Human Nature
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
The Lady in My Life

Bad 
The Way You Make Me Feel
Speed Demon
Liberian Girl
Just Good Friends
Another Part of Me
Man in the Mirror
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (featuring Siedah Garrett)
Dirty Diana
Smooth Criminal
Leave Me Alone

Dangerous

Jam
Why You Wanna Trip on Me
In the Closet
She Drives Me Wild
Remember the Time
Can’t Let Her Get Away
Heal the World
Black or White
Who Is It
Give in to Me
Will You Be There (featuring The Cleveland Orchestra)
Keep the Faith
Gone Too Soon
Dangerous
HIStory – Past, Present and Future Book 1

Scream
They Don’t Care About Us
Stranger in Moscow
This Time Around
Earth Song
D.S.
Money
Come Together
You Are Not Alone
Childhood (Theme from “Free Willy 2”)
Tabloid Junkie
2 Bad
History
Little Susie / Pie Jesu
Smile

Blood On The Dance Floor/HIStory In The Mix

Blood on the Dance Floor
Morphine
Superfly Sister
Ghost
Is It Scary
Scream Louder (Flyte Tyme Remix)
Money (Fire Island Radio Edit)
2 Bad (Refugee Camp Mix)
Stranger in Moscow (Tee’s In-House Club Mix)
This Time Around (D.M. Radio Mix)
Earth Song (Hani’s Extended Radio Experience)
You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix)
History (Tony Moran’s HIStory Lesson)

Invincible

Unbreakable
Heartbreaker
Invincible
Break of Dawn
Heaven Can Wait
You Rock My World (with intro)
Butterflies
Speechless
2000 Watts
You Are My Life
Privacy
Don’t Walk Away
Cry
The Lost Children
Whatever Happens
Threatened

Live At Wembley – July 16, 1988

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
This Place Hotel
Another Part of Me
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
She’s Out of My Life
I Want You Back / The Love You Save / I’ll Be There
Rock with You
Human Nature
Smooth Criminal
Dirty Diana
Thriller
Working Day and Night
Beat It
Billie Jean
Bad
Man in the Mirror * * * * *

The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection includes: Off The Wall Extras

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Original Demo From 1978)
Workin’ Day And Night (Original Demo From 1978)
Rock with You (Single Version)
Off the Wall (Single Version)
She’s Out of My Life (Single Version)

Thriller Extras

Billie Jean (Home Demo From 1981)
Billie Jean (Single Version)
Billie Jean (Long Version)
Billie Jean (Underground Mix)
Beat It (Single Version)
Beat It 2008 (Thriller 25th Anniversary Remix Featuring Fergie)
The Girl Is Mine 2008 with will.i.am (Thriller 25th Anniversary Remix)
P.Y.T.2008 (Thriller 25th Anniversary Remix Featuring willi.i.am)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008 with Akon (Thriller 25th Anniversary Remix)
For All Time (Previously unreleased track from the “Thriller” sessions)
Got the Hots (Thriller 25th Anniversary)(and KOP Internationally)
Someone in the Dark
Carousel
Thriller (Instrumental)

Bad Extras

Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round
I’m So Blue
Song Groove (A/K/A Abortion Papers)
Free
Price of Fame
Al Capone
Streetwalker
Fly Away
I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (with Spoken Intro)
Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu (I Just Can’t Stop Loving You)(Spanish Version)
Je Ne Veux Pas La Fin De Nous(I Just Can’t Stop Loving You) (French Version)
Bad (Remix by Afrojack Featuring Pitbull- DJ Buddha Edit)
Speed Demon (Remix by Nero)
Bad (Remix by Afrojack Featuring Pitbull- DJ Buddha)

The Ultimate Collection Extras

Ease on Down the Road
You Can’t Win
Shake a Body (Early Demo)
Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)(Single Edit) (The Jacksons)
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (Demo Version)
Sunset Driver (Demo)
Scared of the Moon(Demo)
State of Shock
We Are the World (Demo)
We Are Here to Change the World
Cheater (Demo)
Monkey Business
Dangerous (Early Version)
Who Is It (IHS Mix)
Someone Put Your Hand Out
On the Line
Fall Again (Demo)
In the Back
Beautiful Girl (Demo)
The Way You Love Me
We’ve Had Enough
You Rock My World (with intro)
Enjoy Yourself (The Jacksons)
Lovely One (The Jacksons)
This Place Hotel (a/k/a Heartbreak Hotel) (The Jacksons)

This Is It Extras

This Is It
This Is It (Orchestra Version)
She’s Out of My Life (Demo)
Beat It (Demo)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Demo)
Smooth Criminal (Radio Edit)
Planet Earth (Poem)

Michael

Hold My Hand
Hollywood Tonight
Keep Your Head Up
(I Like) The Way You Love Me
Monster
Best of Joy
Breaking News
(I Can’t Make It) Another Day
Behind the Mask
Much Too Soon

Immortal

Workin’ Day and Night (Immortal Version)
The Immortal Intro (Immortal Version)
Childhood (Immortal Version)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Immortal Version)
Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (Immortal Version)
Dancing Machine / Blame It on the Boogie (Immortal Version)
Ben (Immortal Version)
This Place Hotel (Immortal Version)
Smooth Criminal (Immortal Version)
Dangerous (Immortal Version)
The Mime Segment (I Like) the Way You Love Me / Speed Demon / Another Part of Me (Immortal Version)
The Jackson 5 Medley (Immortal Version)
Speechless/Human Nature (Immortal Version)
Is It Scary/Threatened (Immortal Version)
Thriller (Immortal Version)
You Are Not Alone/I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (Immortal Version)
Beat It / State of Shock (Immortal Version)
Jam (Immortal Version)
Planet Earth/Earth Song (Immortal Version)
Scream/Little Susie (Immortal Version)
Gone Too Soon (Immortal Version)
They Don’t Care About Us (Immortal Version)
Will You Be There (Immortal Version)
I’ll Be There (Immortal Version)
Immortal Megamix
Man in the Mirror (Immortal Version)
Remember the Time / Bad (Immortal Version)


Remixes, Rarities & Gems

Can You Feel It (The Jacksons)
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Live from the 1981 U.S. Tour) (The Jacksons)
Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough (Roger’s Underground Solution Mix)
Rock with You (Frankie Knuckles Radio Mix)
Rock with You (Frankie’s Favorite Club Mix)
Rock with You (Masters at Work Remix)
Rock with You (Live)(The Jacksons)
Off the Wall (Live) (The Jacksons)
She’s Out of My Life (Live) (The Jacksons)
Working Day and Night (Live) (The Jacksons)
Can’t Get Outta the Rain
Say Say Say (featuring Paul McCartney)
Beat It (Moby’s Sub Mix)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Brothers In Rhythm House Mix)
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Instrumental)
Thriller Megamix
Bad (Dance Extended Mix includes ‘False Fade’)
The Way You Make Me Feel (Dance Extended Mix)
The Way You Make Me Feel (Instrumental)
Man in the Mirror (Instrumental)
Dirty Diana (Instrumental)
Another Part of Me (Extended Dance Mix)
Another Part of Me (Instrumental)
Smooth Criminal (Dance Radio Edit)
Smooth Criminal (Extended Dance Mix)
Smooth Criminal (Instrumental)
Liberian Girl (UK Edit)
Black or White (The Clivilles & Cole Radio Mix)
Black or White (The Clivilles & Cole House/Club Mix)
Black or White (House With Guitar Radio Mix)
Black or White (The Underground Club Mix)
Black or White (Instrumental)
Remember the Time (New Jack Radio Mix)
Remember the Time (Silky Soul 7″)
Remember the Time (12″ Main Mix)
Remember the Time (Maurice’s Underground)
Remember the Time (E-Smoove’s Late Nite Mix)
In the Closet (Radio Edit)
In the Closet (The Underground Mix)
Jam (Silky 12″ Mix)
Dangerous (Roger’s Dangerous Edit)
Who Is It (Brothers in Rhythm House Mix)
Will You Be There (Instrumental)
Gone Too Soon (Instrumental)
Scream Louder (Flyte Tyme Remix)
Scream (Classic Club Mix)
Earth Song (Radio Edit)
Earth Song (Hani’s Extended Radio Experience)
They Don’t Care About Us (Love To Infinity’s Walk In The Park Mix)
Stranger in Moscow (Tee’s Radio Mix)
Smile (Short Version)
Is It Scary (Radio Edit)
Is It Scary (Deep Dish Dark And Scary Radio Edit)
Shout
One More Chance
One More Chance (Metro Remix)
One More Chance (Paul Oakenfold Mix)
One More Chance (Paul Oakenfold Urban Mix)
One More Chance (Ron G Club Remix)
Michael Jackson DMC Megamix
****

SOURCE Legacy Recordings