Article from Rolling Stone, January 9th, 1992
- by Michael Goldberg
The pressure to get the album done in time for a pre-Thanksgiving release was enormous. "He was under extreme pressure to deliver his album," says John Landis. "He had the entire Rising Sun on his ass; they had to drag it out of him."
The album was finally finished early in the morning on October 31st. "Michael said, 'We bumped the pumpkin'," says Swedien. "The last three days of the project, Michael and I got about four hours' sleep."
Upon its release on November 26th, Dangerous immediately began selling a healthy clip - more than 70.000 copies a day. The album entered the Billboard charts at number one, with sales for the first five days at about 350.000 copies in the U.S. (Sales figures for a full week were not tallied because of the Thanksgiving holiday.)
Retailers believe the album should do very well.
Tower Records president Russ Solomon says it was the No. 1 seller in most of his stores during the first week of release. "Out of the box, you can't put it in the same league as Guns N' Roses," says Solomon. "But it's seloing pretty good. My own opinion is it will build over the next few months. Some records, like the Guns N' Roses album, appeal to an audience that needs to buy it the minute it's available. Other's like this one, appeal to a different crowd who won't line up at midnight. It takes a bit of time. But number one is number one. It outsold the U2 album this week. Sony should have no problem selling more than the 4 million they initially shipped."
Solomon notes that multiplatinum albums do not sell 10 million copies in the first month of release. "It takes time," says Solomon. "If you're lucky, you do that in a year. In the case of Thriller it took two years (to sell close to 20 million copies in the US.)"
Critics and retailers alike agree that Jackson has created an album with wide appeal - which is exactly what he intended. "Michael feels a tremendous responsibility to his audience," says Bruce Swedien. "I think this piece of work is a good illustration of the fact that he feels this responsibility to provide the best possible music for the fans. That responsibility is at the foreground all the time with Michael."
Jackson clearly has a lot riding on Dangerous. He hopes it will serve as a kind of pop rocket ship that will take him to unimagined levels of stardom and polular acclaim. already, with the "Black Or White" video, Jackson has put himself in the forefront of the public's consciousness. The album's success - and the series of singles that will be on the airwaves over the next year or so - will keep him there, settign the stage for the next aspect of his career: movie stardom. For Jackson wants to be a classic star, like his good friends Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn.
Yet times have changed since his cinematic role models acheived fame. Today's stars are public figures whose private lives are open for discussion. And as John Landis noted, Jackson, knowingly or unknowingly, has provided the public with a series of personal topics to discuss and debate, ranging from his sexuality to his face.
In trying to create a glamorous image for himself in the years since his first solo album as an adult, Off The Wall, was released in 1979, Jackson has literally remade his face before out very eyes. We have all been privy to each new change in the Jackson countenance. He has, of course, been criticized for trying to become white, for turning his back on his roots.
Teddy Riley says that during the Dangerous recording sessions, Jackson talked a lot about what he'd done to his face and skin. "I'm quite sure if Michael could have done it all over again, he would not have done that," says Riley. "But there is no turning back. Once you change your description, you can't turn back. You can't get your own face or your own skin back again. But he is still Michael Jackson; he is still the talented man that everybody grew up on."
Indeed, that seems to be exactly what Jackson himself is trying to convey. All of the animals and angels, golden thrones and jeweled crowns, skeletons and fun-house rides that take up much of the cover of Dangerous appear to be a gigantic mask behind which the real Michael Jackson hides, through which the real Michael Jackson looks at the world.
There is one thing we know for certain about the real Michael Jackson: He is an extraordinarily talented man with a gift for creating music that people all over the world love. Jackson should put more faith in his talent. That, more than anything, accounts for his more than twenty years of stardom.