Friday, 3 May 2013

Michael Jackson - Thriller 25

I love album reissues, but they can be so hard to get right. Some people feel that tacking on demos, outtakes and assorted oddities can detract from an album; the already completed piece of work. Personally I love hearing demos. It's always fascinating to me to hear an album as it develops into a finished piece. It's because of this that I have to say that the 25th anniversary reissue of Thriller was sadly a let down. It could have been so much more.

I won't bore you discussing the original Thriller album. You know it, it's iconic cover and the fact its the biggest selling album of all time. You'll also know the classic singles: Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller. That's not important whilst discussing the reissue. What's important is: what does the reissue offer in terms of bonus content. Disappointingly, not a lot. The reissue offers an excerpt from the Thriller voice over session, four remixes of tracks by contemporary artists such as Akon, Fergie, Will.I.Am and Kanye West, and one unreleased track called For All Time. As you can tell, it's very sparse. It's very much a let-down when you consider that it's well documented there was a wealth of tracks recorded for Thriller. Spend a little time on Youtube and you will discover tracks such as Nite Line, Trouble, Hot Street etc. The demo of The Girl is Mine was released on the The Girl is Mine 2008 CD single too. There's definitely no shortage of material they could have used. As for For All Time? It's a beautiful ballad, but the recording of the song is actually from the Dangerous sessions! You can tell by Michael's voice - its too deep. As far as I know, the song was merely written during the Thriller recording sessions but was never actually recorded during them. That would be more acceptable if there was a shortage of material to be used. The fact is though there's not.

Certain editions of the Thriller 25 remaster also comes with a DVD. If anything - this is the biggest let down of all. The DVD contains the music videos for the album's singles, and the Motown 25 performance of Billie Jean. That's it. Nothing that even the most casual MJ fan won't have seen - and to make matters worse - its already been released! The History VHS/DVD sets contain everything on this DVD. Of course, there was other material they could have released. For instance, The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller has never been released on DVD. Or they could have released a recording of The Jackson's Victory Tour (which was the Thriller tour sort of). Realistically though Michael Jackson wasn't pleased with that tour, so I guess that was never going to happen. Although I don't know why The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller was never released. I've also read that he video recorded most of his studio sessions - why not even release some footage for those?

All in all, I have to say that this is a let down. The hardback book case packaging (I have the zombie cover edition) does look lovely, but sadly for such an iconic album the content on this reissue is lacking. I have to admit, I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan but I do think his perfectionism may explain why this is so sparse. My theory is that he probably wished that demos and uncompleted tracks would never see the light of day. It's an admirable viewpoint, but it has its downsides. If you buy this hoping that you'll get content which will shed light on the making of an iconic album then you'll most likely be disappointed. Those of you that wanted that - purchase a copy of the official Thriller 25 book, it's very informative on the album's recording sessions etc. Thankfully, the Bad 25 reissue was a lot better, and I certainly hope that when the inevitable reissue of Off The Wall comes out its handled better than Thriller 25. I love the original album, but as a re-release its one of the weaker ones in my collection, in terms of content.

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