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Labels rush to get out Jackson discs

Companies comb vaults for recordings

In the first of what may constitute a steady trickle, if not an avalanche, of posthumous Michael Jackson product, Hip-OSelect.com — an Internet retail site specializing in reissues of Universal Music Group items — will release “Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection” on Friday. The three-CD set features every Jackson solo recording released between 1971 and ‘75, plus all Motown-era songs issued after he left the company to sign with Epic in 1975.

The latter recordings include “Farewell My Summer Love,” originally released in 1984 as a “lost” Jackson solo album slated to hit the racks a decade earlier, and “Looking Back to Yesterday,” a 1986 compilation of then-unreleased tracks from Jackson and the Jackson 5. And while all the music has been available before, Hip-OSelect touts bonus tracks on the new collection in its “original, undubbed mixes.”

Whether Epic, which released Jackson’s peak solo recordings “Off the Wall” and “Thriller,” is planning to comb its vaults for previously unreleased or repackaged material is unclear since the company did not respond to queries.

Curiously, the U.S. Copyright Office lists more than 1,000 titles under Jackson’s name; a good number of have been recorded but many have not. Titles range from the seemingly sentimental “Elizabeth I Love You” to the cryptically named “(I Took an) Overdose.” Signal Hill Capital Group and Fortress Credit Corp. are listed among copyright owners, presumably as future collateral to settle the singer’s debts, reported to be in the $400 million range. Neither firm returned calls.

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