Monday, July 13, 2009

Music Monday-"Behind the Mask"

Eric Clapton at the Tsunami Relief concert in ...Image via Wikipedia

I first heard "Behind The Mask" on the Eric Clapton CD "August." It was one of the Clapton albums that Phil Collins produced and played drums on. Along with Clapton and Collins, the album also featured Nathan East on base and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, and a bunch of horn. "Behind the Mask" stood out to me at the time because one of the writers of the song was one Michael Jackson. Yes, that Michael Jackson.

I don't know why, but for some reason it struck me as odd at the time that Clapton would do a song written by Michael Jackson, especially one that never appeared on any Jackson release. In doing a little research this weekend, I have found the connection and the trail is complete.

The original version of "Behind the Mask" was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Chris Mosdell and performed by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Quincy Jones heard it and fell in love with the track. He worked with Michael Jackson on a version that Michael added additional lyrics, thus his writing credit.

Phillinganes had worked previously with Quincy Jones who brought Phillinganes in to play keyboards on all three of the Michael Jackson Epic albums. It was decided at the last minute to leave "Behind the Mask" off of either the "Thriller" or "Off the Wall" albums. I have seen different reports, so I am not completely sure which album it was originally intended to appear on.

Once the decision had been made not to release a Michael Jackson version of the song, Phillinganes asked for and received the okay to put the song on his 1984 solo work "Pulse." Then Phillinganes played keyboards on Clapton's 1986 version of the song. Perhaps there is a Michael Jackson version of the song in the collection of Jackson unreleased material, and hopefully we will get to hear his version.

First here is Clapton's version:

And as a bonus, Greg Phillinganes version:

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea this existed. I have always loved Clapton but who would have guessed a collaboration on this song. It is good, really good!

  2. Glad you liked it. Clapton is one of the few artists that I try to get everything new they put out. I think I have seen him in concert 5 or 6 times

  3. I am a big Clapton fan also, but I personally think the 80s were not his best years. I think his pre 80s stuff is great, and his post 80s stuff is great. His 80s stuff is OK. Behind the Mask doesn't really showcase Clapton's talent, and barely scratches the surface of his guitar playing prowess. I think the people on YouTube would agree, as there are 12 matches for Clapton "Behind the Mask", and pages and pages of matches for Clapton Crossroads or Clapton Layla.

    The Michael Jackson angle is interesting.



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