Dangerous, Michael Jackson's 1991 album, may not have been his biggest release, but it's still managed to shift more units than most artists manage in their entire careers.
In an interview conducted last year, super-producer Teddy Riley spoke about his work with Jackson on Dangerous, providing some revealing insight into how the King Of Pop operated when he was in the studio.
How it happened
"I got the call to produce some tracks on Michael Jackson's Dangerous around 1991," Riley begins, as if recalling a matter of fact phone conversation with a telesales marketer – it's not like it happens every day!
"No, it sure doesn't," confesses Riley, reflecting on the shear magnitude of the topic. But being a Michael Jackson record, Dangerous was always going to sell, right? So, where's the pressure?
"There was more pressure," he says. "I didn't want to be the one to fail Michael. And I'm so grateful it didn't. It thankfully went on to become a success, selling about 34 million records. (It is over 40 million now)
The Jackson camp wanted a producer who had his ear to the street. It wasn't like the new wonder of MTV could be exploited again as with Thriller. What Jackson needed was a 'hot' sound, and a producer who understood what the icon needed to avoid becoming irrelevant in the wake of the scores of young, black and urban artists stepping up to fill Jackson's sequined glove.
"For Dangerous, I brought RnB back to Michael in its barest form; RnB and Funk," says Riley. "We recorded it in California, at Record One, and then we ended up in Larrabee Studios. I was using a lot of vintage stuff to get the sound we needed. Reeds and SSL XLs were mainly the boards we used – I always loved vintage better than digital. It's way better… much warmer."
Scan the credits on Dangerous and you'll see that Jackson gets a lot of co-production dues: "On every album Michael does, he has some sort of input," says Riley, "so I didn't mind him getting a co-production." Well, you can't exactly tell the King Of Pop he can't, can you?