Living Off the Wall or Roller Skating through a cemetery

Okay, we’re just four days from Halloween.

For some reason, Halloween always reminds me of skating parties and Michael Jackson.

Really?

I know, weird but it’s true.

When I was in 7th and 8th grades (1979/1980), skating parties were all the rage – maybe they still are.

Anyway, I vividly remember going to a couple of them which must have been held right near Halloween. Or my foggy memory places them near Halloween.

And, as I always do, I relate those experiences to music.

You see Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” was HUGE back in 1979!

The album had been released in August of that year and I clearly remember fumbling at those skating parties to “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You” which were playing in a continuous loop it seemed.

You couldn’t turn the radio on anywhere in those days without hearing those songs every five minutes or so.

Besides skating parties, Micheal Jackson’s album “Thriller” also reminds me of  Halloween with the title track’s Vincent Price spoken word dialogue and that eerie laugh.

After all these years Michael Jackson, Fall and Halloween are tied together in one big blur – at least for me.

Thus this early Halloween post!

Soooo, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the three Michael Jackson albums I own on CD.

Michael Jackson, much like Richard Carpenter from The Carpenters, was well-known for tweaking his music repeatedly, even after it had been released!

Two of Jackson’s albums, “Off the Wall” and “Bad” contain several different mixes of certain songs.

Depending on when you happened to buy the vinyl or CD you got either old or new mixes or a mixture of both.

Luckily, most vinyl and early CD issues of these two albums contain the first versions, or Lp mixes, of all the songs.

Being that I am an anal collector I, of course, tracked down the first CD issues of these albums when I finally decided to buy them again after having gotten rid of my vinyl versions years ago.

There’s something in my DNA that makes me prone to reach out for the way things were first issued. Don’t know why, probably not healthy, but I do.

Because of that, I own early CD issues of “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” and a first issue of “Bad” as well as a later issue with several remixes.

Let’s start with “Off the Wall”:

The original vinyl of the “Off the Wall” Lp contains different (and better in my mind) mixes of “Rock With You” and “Get on the Floor”.

“Rock With You” has no hand claps on the original mix and different guitar work and less echo or reverb than the later remix and “Get on the Floor” is much drier sounding with the drums louder.

These mixes were even changed I believe on some later vinyl issues but fortunately the early CD pressings of the album do feature the original mix with the hand claps free “Rock With You” and funkier “Get on the Flour.”

One of the only ways to make sure you get one of these early mix versions on CD is purchase a one that states “Made in Japan” on the outer edge of the CD label.

There are versions of this Made in Japan CD manufactured for the U.S. and European markets. The copy I have (see photos) is one of the early European pressings which you can easily tell by the catalog number on the CD – CDEPC83468.

One of the other things that also changed on “Off the Wall” was the cover. On the original CD pressing, Michael Jackson is facing sideways on the front cover (from the way the photo is positioned on the booklet). Later issues have him facing upright against the brick wall. This is also one way to spot an early issue of the CD.

“Thriller”:

The “Thriller” CD doesn’t have any mix differences that I’m aware of but again the early Made in Japan CD versions sound much better with a nice relaxed mastering that’s easy on the ears, very crankable with nice bass.

I’ve heard the SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) version of this album is the way to go as far as sound goes but I don’t own that one.

I’m just happy to have the original CD pressing as the newer versions of this album are mastered way too loud for my tastes and are very fatiguing to listen to for any length of time. Same goes for newer versions of all three of these albums.

“Bad”:

For the “Bad” CD, the first issues feature the original LP mixes.

Three tracks, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” (with spoken word intro which was later dropped), “Dirty Diana” and “The Way You Make Me Feel”, have noticeably different mixes on the first CD issue that were changed in later pressings.

Some of the other tracks may have differences too in later pressings but these are the three that stick out in my mind.

One way to spot an early issue of the “Bad” CD is to check the way the Epic looks on the back CD cover. If it’s a fat and puffy Epic (see photos) more than likely it’s got the early mixes. If it has three circles around a rod over the word Epic it’s most likely the later mixes.

I guess the “Bad” CD can be found with original mixes, some old and some new mixes and all new remixes! I own one with all original mixes and one with later remixes.

Oh, and don’t be fooled by the small sticker that says “Includes the Bonus Track “Leave Me Alone”. I thought only early issues of this CD carried that sticker but the later pressing I own with remixes has that sticker on it and my earlier pressing doesn’t.

Whew, that’s a lot to process! Hope it wasn’t a case of TMI.

So, happy hunting if you decide to track down any of these rare early CD versions of these epic (sorry, couldn’t resist) Michael Jackson albums. They were expensive right after his death but have come down again in price and can be found with some patience.

Btw, I still love the music but I’ve NEVER been a fan of skating lol, go figure!

Feast your eyes on some on the four CDs that I own of these albums and Happy Halloween early!!!

 

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