Saturday, February 16, 2008
Record Review: Michael Jackson - Thriller: 25th Anniversary Release
The music listening public really needed this release. In an era of overblown tabloid controversy and judgmental message board low lives, once mighty celebrities are finding the legitimacy of their musical careers overshadowed by the various in jokes and jabs that fuel our narrow minded interests, all because of questionable decisions made within their personal lives. Michael Jackson has become the poster boy of the fallen, once mighty pop star constantly in the firing range of media punch lines. Everything he gets attention for these days seems to reinforce the notion that he is a joke and was never a reputable creative force within the music industry. That is why this 25th Anniversary re-release of Jackson's seminal 1982 release Thriller is important to the musical listeners, we needed a reminder of the real Michael Jackson, the Jackson who for several years was the epitome of all that was credible and talented in the world of mainstream pop.
Thriller has become the definitive pop album of the western world, post- Civil Rights Movement, with the almost sublime media sensation that occurred with its release. Everyone is familiar with Jacksons impressive uprisings in the Jackson 5 and the astronomical success he experienced in his early years. He transcended effortlessly from Motown into video pop stardom and In the early Eighties Jackson was MTV, and no one seemed to mind. Everyone who listened to music from metal heads to pop teens to their mothers were in a common consensus, Jackson was the man. Thriller is a true representation as to why Michael Jackson should still be remember as "The Man", it still holds up to this day.
From the opening stutter of "Wanna be Startin' Somethin' ", to the soothing R&B of "The Lady in My Life", Thriller sounds as fresh in 2008 as it did in 1982. Throw on the slinky bass of "Billie Jean" at any party of any generation and the dance floor would still erupt. "Beat it" and the featured guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen still has the power too draw even the most closed-minded of rock snobs into Jackson's world of pop perfection. Thriller has this power to transcend musical genres and unify the musicical audience as a whole. No other album since has even remotely been able to achieve this unification amongst music listeners.
Due to the circumstances surrounding Michael Jacksons personal persona it is unavoidable to listen to Thriller without any preconceived biases. While revisiting the album in modern contexts flaws begin to surface influenced by our perception of Jackson. The most obvious flaw that becomes apparent is Jacksons almost childlike voice. It is a bit difficult to appreciate Micheal Jackson's trademark hiccup and quiver that are a driving force in the lesser tracks like "Human Nature" and "Baby be Mine" in the the same high regard as on the mega hits and it even verges on annoyance.
It is these preconceived bias influenced by this "Wacko Jacko" caricature garnisheed by the media that has ultimately tarnished and degraded the once significance musical contribution of Jackson to the mainstream. He defined what being a pop star was all about, the musical listeners as a whole was his intended audience not small niche audiences. There was no limit too what Jackson was able to achieve with the release of Thriller. The Micheal Jackson from the Thriller was a musical tour de force, an unstoppable talent who could sing, dance and preform like no other. Hopefully listeners will cast aside judgment that this re-release will reassure many of Michael Jacksons legitimacy. He IS still the real deal.