Byline: Seth Colter Walls and Michael Picon
When it comes to Michael Jackson's posthumously released studio tracks, 2009's "This Is It" wasn't precisely it. Dec. 14 brings us Michael, an album of "new" Jackson songs. How close they were to finished remains anyone's guess, though there are lots of strategies for clearing out studio vaults. Here's how estates and labels have kept the flames of memory alive.
Nineteen sixty-four saw the well-received release of two posthumous Cline albums. Sixteen years later, the MCA label got creative. Always (1980) wedded slick backing-band overdubs to old Cline vocals, upsetting some hard-core fans.
Did Trane live in a studio during his final years? Maybe. Impulse built new albums out of unissued tracks into the '90s. Some are classic (Sun Ship, 1971; Interstellar Space, 1974), though overdub-happy Infinity (1972) ain't--and is out of print.
The most confusing posthumous catalog. Hendrix's estate didn't gain control until 1995, reissuing prior outtake sets in tweaked form. In 2010 the estate moved to Sony, which put out Valleys of Neptune (it hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200).
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Just two "new" songs (or band overdubs of John Lennon demos) have surfaced officially: "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" were nestled inside the six-CD Anthology of unissued takes. Then Paul McCartney remixed Let It Be to his own preferred specs. …