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 ...
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. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
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This ground breaking album is still the top selling album of all time. As a Beatles Collector, I beleive the Beatles are the best perfprmers of all time, but during my formative years, one person was the king of Pop Music: Michael Jackson. As a vinyl collector, I have a varried collection, and have added this ever growing hard to find album to my collection. I would encourage serious collectors to snag this one now, as it will only continue to go up in value. It was a sad tragic loss when this very talented and creative artist died. I wsa very pleased with this sellers service and shipping and would buy from them again.
Jul 30, 2009
I was staying at a friend's apartment on East Fourth Street on the Lower East Side in New York the summer "Thriller" broke on the airwaves.
It was sweltering, so I wore a bandana to tie back my longish hair, and prevent the sweat from sopping my face.
My friend had a fan that was wedged into the window but the cast-iron grate was bent back where thieves had attempted a break-in.
Floating up from the street, I would hear "Billie Jean" or "Beat It" or the entire album all hours of the day commingled with the howling from the men's shelter opposite my friend's building and the traffic and white noise of the city. One floor of her building was a junkie shooting gallery.
"Thriller" was pure pop confection, and its gloss and sheen had nothing to do with the grit that surrounded me, but it was the sound of the day. Except for "Billie Jean" and "Human Nature," I've resisted its pleasures. I've always been fond of the early Jackson 5 hits when Michael had not yet effaced his blackness.
Probably I've listened to "Thriller" all the way through once, at another friend's apartment in the Chelsea district of New York.
By my reckoning, the album roughly coincided with the repressive Reagan-Thatcher years, and lately I've become more interested in British punk and postpunk--Sex Pistols, Clash, Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, Au Pairs, Raincoats--neo-garage bands like the Strokes and White Stripes, and the Sugarcubes, Bjork's first band.
I'm losing interest in the moribidity surrounding the King of Pop's death. Critic Greil Marcus wrote that after Elvis's death someone released a single sung in the persona of Elvis's late brother Jesse: "Now you're gone / you can join me / and I'll see your face on the other side"--lyrics of that River Styx ilk. We can expect tons of hagiography and crap like that.
If belatedly, I surrendered to the Beatles, but Elvis and Michael not so much. A pop phenomenon of that magnitude, I think, rips a big blinding hole in the cultural fabric, and consigns everything and -one else to the margins, unfairly. It isn't a question of whether you listen to "Thriller" or not; when it came out, it seeped into our DNA. But it seems to represent the corporate convergence of maximum media exposure through mainstream pop radio, MTV, Internet and cable saturation--a global phenomenon.
I know it's a heresy, but I prefer the work of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, or for that matter Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson.