MICHAEL JACKSON: Thriller 25 (Label: Epic, Legacy)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • MICHAEL JACKSON: Thriller 25 (Label: Epic, Legacy)

Unless you’ve spent the early weeks of 2008 vacationing on Mars, it can’t have escaped your attention that li’l’ Michael Jackson’s’ Thriller’ album is celebrating its 25th Anniversary – that’s 25 short years since its initial release and subsequent elevation to the status of the world’s biggest selling album of all time. Now, anyone who knows anything about the marketing people who work in the music biz will know that it’s nigh on impossible for them to let such an opportunity pass by – so here we have it – a deluxe ‘Thriller’ reissue bolstered by remixes of some of the songs, along with classy DVD footage and a previously unreleased MJ gem. A review of the original album is redundant. Put simply, it was/is a genuine pop/soul apogee and its music is so familiar that maybe we take its success for granted. You’ll get a measure of that complacency by listening again to just to one cut – ‘Baby Be Mine’. It’s the least known of the original LP’s tracks, but it’s a real beauty. A jaunty Rod Temperton song with Michael in fine, crystal-clear form, it would the standout on lesser albums. But what about the remixes and new tweaks? Well, I’ve heard plenty of people who claim that tampering with masterpieces is totally redundant. However just as the Surrealists encouraged people to look at art in a new way after painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa, here we have the opportunity to hear the ultra-familiar in a serious, alternative way. Best of the new versions is Akon’s mix and participation on ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’. It has a heavy intensity and sounds thoroughly contemporary as too does Kanye West’s slowed down re-burn on ‘Billie Jean’ and surprisingly Mr. W keeps his own interjections to the barest minimum. Will I Am is the other mixer and his McCartney-less version of ‘The Girl Is Mine’ is very catchy – no wonder it’s the lead single – though his Fergie-led take of ‘Beat It’ adds little. Then there’s the previously unreleased track – ‘For All Time’. Pretty and very much of its time, all Michael Jackson fans will want it. They’ll also play the bonus DVD to death. It features the videos to ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Beat It’ and ‘Thriller’ and there’s that fabulous ‘Billie Jean’ performance from the Motown 25 concert. It’s still mesmerising and as I said up top, commercial pop/soul doesn’t come any better.
(BB) 4/5