1. Nite Line
3. Hot Street
4. The Girl Is Mine (Solo Demo)
5. Starlight (Demo)
6. Baby Be Mine (Demo)
7. Billie Jean (Demo)
8. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Demo)
9. P.Y.T. (Instrumental)
10. Trouble (Demo)
12. The Lady In My Life (Original Mix)*
13. Got The Hots*
14. Can’t Get Outta The Rain*
15. Billie Jean (Studio Demo #2)
16. Billie Jean (Home Demo From 1981)
17. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (Demo Version)*
18. Nite Line (Writers’ Submission)
19. Carousel (Writers’ Submission)
20. Trouble (Writers’ Submission)
21. Human Nature (Writers’ Submission)
Format: ~320kbps MP3 (devations noted [*])
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If you’re on this blog, and you don’t know Michael Jackson, hell, don’t even know the album Thriller, you might as I tend to say “eat da poo poo like ice cream”.
On a more serious note, Michael Jackson was a singer, a songwriter, a musician, an artist, an entertainer, whatever you wanna call him — that defied description and the odds when it came to the heights of his fame. As I type this, I watch Jason Weaver flawlessly recreate the songs of Michael’s childhood on my television screen on the semi-biopic TV miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream with the same childlike glee I watched it in the 1990s. Mike was in short, an American institution.
The album Thriller, a carefully selected collection of nine tracks that solidified Mike’s “institutional” status, was part of that backseat “navigator” soundtrack in my earliest years, a fixture at basement parties, a rock that kept me balanced through the tougher years of my youth, and a constantly revisited album during the liner-note crazed music geek session that was the bulk of my undergrad years. Just hearing it today, takes me to a much happier place in life.
When Michael died last year, it was much like losing a part of my family. It was particularly sad, because just like Rick James before him, he seemed poised to rise from the ashes of a particularly unfavorable situation before death took him suddenly. It was the sad ending that those of us who enjoyed what he had to offer hoped would never come to pass. To date, there are some songs by Michael I just can’t listen to — it’s just too much. He had a bizarre life that took so many unfortunate turns. And somehow, through the music, you could tell the signs were there. I often wonder, but do not envy, what it was like to have so much fame literally at your feet.
However, while many are still mourning, there was at least one positive from Michael’s passing — not long after, many of the songs that were deleted from the Thriller sessions and had been floating around in typical “bootleg” quality had re-emerged. Some others, like the included “Starlight”, that were only the subject of articles about the album and its recording process, and Internet music discussions, had even surfaced. There may be even more. But for now, you can finally hear the entirety of songs like “Carousel”, which was ill-advisedly crammed in the back end of Thriller‘s Special Edition re-release alongside some superfluous anecdotes from the album’s production wizard, Quincy Jones.
In this set, originally compiled by the ever-generous Michael Jackson superfan and archivist jaywonder (who also provided the album art you see here), you’ll even find the versions of “Carousel”, “Nite Line”, “Human Nature” (my original favorite from the album) and “Trouble” that were submitted to Michael and Co. from the original writers. Prior to this compilation, I had only heard “Carousel” via its writer, the ever-understated Michael Sembello. That “Human Nature” ended up being the handiwork of my favorite member of Toto (besides his drum-pounding brother), Steve Porcaro, seemed all too appropriate.
I’ve also added to this set, “Can’t Get Out Of The Rain”, which MJ diehards know as a “Billie Jean” B-Side and was not really part of the Thriller sessions; it really is the tail-end groove of “You Can’t Win”, from Michael and Quincy’s first collaboration, the soundtrack to The Wiz, with some retooled/re-recorded vocals. Still, that song, despite being older than the rest, and Off The Wall, even — sounds like it fits right in with the rest.
It’s highly possible, that these songs, and more will turn up in what is sure to be a wealth of posthumous Michael Jackson releases, but until then, enjoy courtesy of M.A.D.
Happy Birthday, Michael.
You were, as your song said, “Gone Too Soon”.