October 05, 1987 12:00 PM

Michael Jackson

The big question is, of course: Was Michael Jackson’s new album worth the wait? Well, no, not really. There’s nothing on Bad that warrants five years of deliberation. With the exception of the title track, there are none of the adrenaline rushes that coursed through Thriller and Off the Wall. Instead, Bad is a grown-up and balanced piece of work. From the bounding but simple bass line of The Way You Make Me Feel to the hip-swaying guitar riff on Another Part of Me, Michael locks into a dance groove without overstating his case. He also handles the vocals on slower songs like Liberian Girl smoothly. On Terry Britten and Graham Lyle’s composition, Just Good Friends, he even holds his own in a duet with Stevie Wonder. As Dionne Warwick, Elton John and Gladys Knight discovered on That’s What Friends Are For, it ain’t easy to stay even with Steven. The quality of the music on this LP is as fine as you would expect with Quincy Jones as producer. But enough gushing. The opening whimper in I Just Can’t Stop Loving Youis Michael at his most mawkish. It’s doubly hard to take because of its self-pitying text: “A lot of people misunderstand me/ That’s because they don’t know me at all.” Conversely, it’s hard to accept Jackson as the mean dude of the title track, crowing, “I’m bad…(bad, bad really, really bad).” Let’s face it, in a gang fight, you’d count yourself extremely lucky if you could find someone as willowy as Michael to whip. Still, Jackson deserves to be commended for Bad, as much for his restraint as for his talent. Now, when can we expect the next album? (Epic)

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