Michael Jackson – Thriller (The ’59) #145

The ’59 2018 #145: 180525

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. Today we’ve reached year 24 – 1982.

The late Michael Jackson released his sixth album on November 30, 1982.

Then, in just over a year, Thriller became — and currently remains — the world’s best-selling album, with estimated sales of 66 million copies.

It won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year and produced seven singles — “The Girl Is Mine”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”, “Human Nature”, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, and “Thriller” — all of which reached the top 10.

Thriller also broke racial barriers in pop music, enabling Jackson’s appearances on MTV and meeting with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. The album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools, and the videos for the songs “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It” all received regular rotation on MTV.

In 2001, a special edition reissue was released, which contains additional audio interviews, demo recordings and the song “Someone in the Dark”, a Grammy-winning track from the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook. In 2008, it was reissued again as Thriller 25, containing remixes with contemporary artists, previously unreleased songs, and a DVD with three music videos and Jackson’s performance of “Billie Jean” from the 1983 television special Motown 25.

In the same year, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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Stevie Wonder – Songs in the key of life (Epic #354)

The Epic 2017 Project #354: 171220

Stevie Wonder – Songs in the key of life (1976)

Songs in the Key of Life is the eighteenth album from Stevie Wonder, released on September 28, 1976, by Motown Records, through its division Tamla Records. The album was recorded primarily at Crystal Sound studio in Hollywood, with some sessions recorded at the Record Plant in Hollywood, the Record Plant in Sausalito, and The Hit Factory in New York City. Final mixing was performed at Crystal Sound.

An ambitious double LP with a four-song bonus EP, Songs in the Key of Life became the best-selling and most critically acclaimed album of his career. In 2003, it was ranked number 57 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In the same year it was preserved into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, which called it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In the summer of 2016 we had the really special privilege of seeing him perform the whole of the album live at London’s Hyde Park. Probably one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Over six hours of pure heaven.

Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness first finale (Epic #353)

The Epic 2017 Project #353: 171219

Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness first finale (1974)

Released on July 22, 1974 on the Tamla label, this was Stevie Wonder’s nineteenth album overall, and seventeenth studio album. It was his first studio album to top the Pop Albums chart where it remained for two weeks, while it was his third album to top the R&B/Black Albums chart where it spent nine non-consecutive weeks.

Whilst largely a stripped down, more personal sounding album, Wonder had not completely foregone social commentary on the world around him. The No. 1 hit “You Haven’t Done Nothin'” launched a pointed criticism of the Nixon administration bolstered by funky clavinet, drum machine, and a Jackson 5 cameo.

The album received three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, in 1974.

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (Epic #352)

The Epic 2017 Project #352: 171218

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book (1972)

Sandwiched between the release of Music of My Mind and Innervisions, Talking Book (released in October 1972 and Stevie Wonder’s 15th studio album) saw him enjoying more artistic freedom from Motown. Guest appearances include Jeff Beck, Ray Parker, Jr., David Sanborn, and Buzz Feiten.

The sound of the album is sharply defined by Wonder’s keyboard work, especially with the synthesizers he incorporated, giving a funky edge to tracks like “Maybe Your Baby”. His use of the Hohner clavinet model C on “Superstition” is widely regarded as one of the definitive tracks featuring the instrument. His clavinet embellishments on “Big Brother”, though, evoke a six-string acoustic guitar, and his note-bending harmonica work touches on some folk and blues influences.

Stevie Wonder – Inner Visions (Epic #351)

The Epic 2017 Project #351: 171217

Stevie Wonder – Inner Visions (1973)

Innervisions was Stevie Wonder’s 16th studio album, released on 3rd August, 1973, on the Tamla label for Motown Records, a landmark recording of his “classic period”. The nine tracks of Innervisions encompass a wide range of themes and issues: from drug abuse in “Too High”, through inequality and systemic racism in “Living for the City”, to love in the ballads “All in Love Is Fair” and “Golden Lady”. The album’s closer, “He’s Misstra Know-It-All”, is a scathing attack on then-US President Richard Nixon, similar to Wonder’s song a year later, “You Haven’t Done Nothin'”.

As with many of Stevie Wonder’s albums, the lyrics, composition and production are almost entirely his own work, with the ARP synthesizer used prominently throughout the album. The instrument was a common motif among musicians of the time because of its ability to construct a complete sound environment. Wonder was the first black artist to experiment with this technology on a mass scale, and Innervisions was hugely influential on the subsequent future of commercial black music. He also played all or virtually all instruments on six of the album’s nine tracks, making most of Innervisions a representative one-man band.

Michael Jackson – Thriller (Epic 2017 #124)

The Epic 2017 Project #124: 170504

Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

Thriller is the sixth studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released on November 30, 1982 in the United States by Epic Records and internationally by CBS Records.

The follow-up to Jackson’s successful previous studio album, Off the Wall (1979), Thriller explores genres similar to those of its predecessor, including pop, post-disco, rock and funk. Recording sessions for the album took place from April to November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a production budget of $750,000. Quincy Jones produced the album, while Jackson wrote four of its nine songs.

In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the world’s best-selling album, with estimated sales of 65 million copies.

Stevie Wonder – Ordinary Pain (Leaping Ahead #315)

Leaping Ahead Project 2016 #315: 161110

[A song from an artiste’s name beginning with W]

We had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Stevie Wonder perform the whole of the ‘Songs in the Key of Life’ album live in London’s Hyde Park back in the summer. It was a subliminal gig in every way. But if there was one moment that completely floated my boat, it was this one. Ordinary Pain live was something else and on absolutely every level.