December 4, 2008

Thriller Turns 25!

A couple drinks and a couple records is a great way to spend any anniversary.

When my copy arrived I was a little bummed to find the cover photo is grainy, and the inside gatefold was not the original photo with the tiger cub (at top), but instead it's the Thriller video zombies. The inner sleeves are full color with various photos from the era and lyrics/credits, and smaller version of Mike's sketches that were featured full size on the original front and back inner sleeve. Minor gripes.

The records sound great and Thriller is no less the amazing album it was 25 yrs ago. Since credits are listed for tape restoration and archive research, we can tell this is a new mastering from original tapes and not a further punch-up from the '01 remaster. Mastering for CD is credited to Tom Coyne / Sterling Sound NY, and no credit appears for the vinyl mastering but 'RJ' (Ray Janos of Sterling) is written in the wax. He probably cut the vinyl from Tom's new digital master since there's no analog mention. I don't have an original '82 to compare, but it sounds as excellent as the '01 CD master to me.

Disc 2 offers a full outtake from the original sessions, no doubt originally cut for being a less interesting drone of Human Nature, but still interesting enough. The '01 release included part of another outtake, Carousel, as part of the bonus material. This would have been the perfect place to give us the full version of that, and repeat the E.T. Storybook track Someone In The Dark bonus. (I just saw they are all included in an iTunes deluxe version with an additional remix of Billie Jean)

The new material / mixes included could have been used for other Thriller era material like 12" versions and instrumentals. The b-side Can't Get Outta The Rain or it's full You Can't Win would have been a great cut to include (even though it's from '79/'80). Or license McCartney/Jackson's Say Say Say- they did it for Jackson's Essential 3.0 collection!  Instead the space is wasted with hyped contemporary performers, Akon, Kanye West and Fergie.  I know, I know... they need new artists to sell to a new generation. Fair enough.

The take on The Girl Is Mine is pretty nice, and his build on the P.Y.T. demo is pretty good. I also like the intro and new arrangement of Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' with Akon. As for the Fergie duet on Beat it: Why? (I hope Eddie finally got paid this time).  Is it possible to re-invent Billie Jean? Kanye's mix is pretty fair, he at least keeps the most important original elements. Oh wait... HE TOOK THE BASS OUT. Thankfully all we hear of Kanye is the usual 'Uh, yeah yeah' in a couple spots. I despise that he and Puffy are famous during my lifetime. (Seriously)

Download the full version of Carousel from Michael Sembello's website.


Jeff said...

A couple of drinks + a couple of records = a nice way to spend any evening, in my opinion!

I briefly debated getting the Thriller anniversary, until I heard the Kanye track. I figured I'd probably never listen to the second disc & decide to stick with my original copy. Maybe if they issue this as a restored single LP I'll bite.

HiRize said...

Definitely little reason to ever listen to disc 2 more than once. I still plan to get another original myself if just for the better quality cover art.

Jeff said...

Have you ever heard "The Man" by McCartney & Jackson? One of the lowest of lows in McCartney's career, IMO.

HiRize said...

I listened to it once years ago, never bothered again.