Thriller [Special Edition]

Thriller [Special Edition]

4.5 26
by Michael Jackson
     
 

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There was a time when Michael Jackson wasn't merely the self-described King of Pop but the king of the world, in the James Cameron sense of the term. He had artistic acclaim and monumental commercial success, and nothing seemed beyond his reach: music, videos, live performances, movies. Thriller is his "Titanic": a big, bold, glossy, and gripping tour de forceSee more details below

Overview

There was a time when Michael Jackson wasn't merely the self-described King of Pop but the king of the world, in the James Cameron sense of the term. He had artistic acclaim and monumental commercial success, and nothing seemed beyond his reach: music, videos, live performances, movies. Thriller is his "Titanic": a big, bold, glossy, and gripping tour de force that consumed the pop world. It never failed to make you move, from the opening challenge of "Wanna Be Startin' Something," with its "Soul Makossa" groove, to the sleek beats of "Billy Jean" to the funked-up rock of "Beat It" (with a guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen, no less). More than a cavalcade of justly deserved hits, 1982's Thriller suggested that Jackson was only beginning to tap into his massive talent, and that was perhaps the most, well, thrilling aspect of it. Here was an album that, in an increasingly fractured culture, almost everyone could favorably agree on; it had a luxurious production sheen, courtesy of Quincy Jones, and the most expensive studio talent that money could buy, yet it never sounded manufactured or contrived. Michael Jackson really meant it, and Thriller remains both his masterwork and a decade-defining album of the '80s. It's a testimony to Jackson's incredible gifts, to what he was, and to what we hoped he could always be.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable -- an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul -- expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good. True, it wasn't as tight as Off the Wall -- and the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track is the prime culprit, arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum -- but those one or two cuts don't detract from a phenomenal set of music. It's calculated, to be sure, but the chutzpah of those calculations (before this, nobody would even have thought to bring in metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen to play on a disco cut) is outdone by their success. This is where a song as gentle and lovely as "Human Nature" coexists comfortably with the tough, scared "Beat It," the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," and the frizzy funk of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." And, although this is an undeniably fun record, the paranoia is already creeping in, manifesting itself in the record's two best songs: "Billie Jean," where a woman claims Michael is the father of her child, and the delirious "Wanna Be Startin' Something," the freshest funk on the album, but the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded. These give the record its anchor, and are part of the reason why the record is more than just a phenomenon. The other reason, of course, is that much of this is just simply great music. [The 2001 reissue adds two bonus tracks (the unreleased "Someone in the Dark" and a demo of "Billy Jean,") the voice-over session for Vincent Price's cameo, interviews with producer Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, and a new booklet]

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/16/2001
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0074646607329
catalogNumber:
66073

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Michael Jackson   Primary Artist
Howard Hewett   Background Vocals
James Ingram   Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Janet Jackson   Background Vocals,Track Performer
Paul McCartney   Track Performer
Bill Wolfer   Synthesizer,Keyboards
David Foster   Synthesizer
Toya Jackson   Background Vocals,Track Performer
Vincent Price   Rap,Spoken Word
Bunny Hull   Background Vocals,Track Performer
Tom Bahler   Keyboards,Synclavier
Brian Banks   Synthesizer
Michael Boddicker   Synthesizer,Emulator,Vocoder
Leon "Ndugu" Chancler   Drums
Paulinho Da Costa   Percussion
Gary Grant   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Nelson Hayes   Stomp Board
Jerry Hey   Trumpet,Conductor,Flugelhorn
Paul Jackson   Guitar
Louis Johnson   Bass,Hand Clapping
Becky Lopez   Background Vocals,Track Performer
Steve Lukather   Bass,Guitar,Electric Bass
David Paich   Synthesizer,Piano
Jeff Porcaro   Drums
Dean Parks   Guitar
Greg Phillinganes   Synthesizer,Keyboards,Hand Clapping,fender rhodes
Steve Porcaro   Synthesizer
Steven Ray   Hand Clapping,Stomp Board
Greg "Frosty" Smith   Synthesizer
Rod Temperton   Synthesizer
Eddie Van Halen   Guitar,Soloist
Gerald Vinci   Concert Master
Maxine Willard Waters   Background Vocals
Oren Waters   Background Vocals
Julia Waters   Background Vocals
William Frank "Bill" Reichenbach   Trombone
David E. Williams   Guitar
Larry Andrew Williams   Flute,Saxophone

Technical Credits

James Ingram   Arranger,Composer
Michael Jackson   Composer
Quincy Jones   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Vocal Arrangements,rhythm arrangement
Jeremy Lubbock   String Conductor
John Bettis   Composer
David Daoud Coleman   Art Direction
Matt Forger   Engineer
Humberto Gatica   Engineer
Jerry Hey   Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements,String Conductor
Donn Landee   Engineer
Steve Lukather   Arranger
David Paich   Arranger,rhythm arrangement
Steve Porcaro   Arranger,Composer
Bruce Swedien   Engineer,Executive Producer
Rod Temperton   Arranger,Composer,Vocal Arrangements,rhythm arrangement,Synthesizer Arrangements
Andy Engel   Sleeve Design,Slipcover Concept
Nancy Donald   Art Direction
Lane   Art Direction

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