Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wanna Be Startin' Something

OK, admit it ... before you knew about the chimps, before you heard the rumors about the purchase of the Elephant Man's bones, before the news was floated about the sleeping in the hyberbaric chamber, before the ruinous personal scandals of the 1990s and 2000s ... admit it people, you loved Michael Jackson.

Breaking free from the Jackson 5 and embarking on a solo career, Jackson released the phenomenal "Off the Wall" album in 1979. I was 9 years old when that record came out. Imagine the kind of musical crap that 9-year-olds are stuck with today ... Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and lord knows what else. We had the freaking "Off the Wall" record! "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," the title track, "Rock With You," "She's Out of My Life," "Workin' Day and Night," etc. Unstoppable!

Then, three years later, comes "Thriller." Yougottabefreakingkiddingme! Eight fantastic pop songs surrounding one clunker ... and the clunker was a duet with a Beatle, so how bad could that be? (Pretty bad, actually, but we'll let that pass).

Anyway, back to back, "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" show a pop genius at the top of his game, dominating the current musical landscape and planting a legacy flag that will stand for all time, regardless of the disastrous future to come.

Don't believe me? Check out this, quite simply one of the most exciting live musical performances in the history of television. Yeah, he probably lip-synced, but notice what was absent from that performance: no pyrotechnics, no posse of backup dancers, no crutch-like guest walk-on ... just one dude, by himself, making history on a stage in front of some of the biggest perfomers of the 20th century.

Today, Sony/Epic released a 25th anniverary edition of the landmark "Thriller" album. I'm long past the time where I buy reissues (the entertainment dollar doesn't stretch as long as it once did, especially with a mortgage payment now), but reading about this today provided a nice opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane.

And, hey, if you don't like it, beat it.

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