Episode 82–Under the Covers 4

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

It’s been a long time since I did a show like this one, and the timing probably couldn’t have been worse.

As I note during the show, I’m on the road for the next several days, so I’ve got a condensed version of my usual recording setup. I can get the job done, but the recording and the editing process are very, very different from what I usually do. Typically after I write the episode I edit all my sound elements and then load them all into a piece of software that keeps them organized until I need them. Then I crack the mic open and play the elements as they’re needed. If I make a huge mistake, I have to find a point where editing won’t show. Because there’s usually background sound going on, I sometimes have to backtrack a lot. But generally it takes me 30-40 minutes to record a 15 minute show. Do a little editing and boom, it’s ready for processing and uploading.

This time around, it’s a gigantic jigsaw puzzle of my recorded voice, plus all the other elements patched in. Plus I have to control audio levels through software rather than through my mixing board, so it’s a whole other kind of thing. And maybe it’s me but recording this way kind of saps some of my vocal energy out of the project.

So after nearly a year, we return to the Well of Cover Songs, wherein we look at songs that you may not realize are covers of another artist’s work. And in my opinion, in each of these cases, the cover is the superior version. That’s not something you can always say (and I cite a specific example during the show).

At any rate, after a few hours of overtime, here’s Episode 82.

Episode 15–Thriller

It was the biggest album of 1982, and the title track was the last Top Ten single to come from it. That’s seven singles out of nine tracks total.

Michael Jackson wanted to top not only the success, but the ambition of his previous album, Off The Wall, and I think we can all agree that he more than succeeded. Thriller remains the largest-selling album of all time.

What! you say, bigger than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Bigger than Dark Side of the Moon? Bigger than Bat Out of Hell? Yes, indeed. As of this week, the top 15 all-time sellers are:

Artist

Album Title Year

Sales (in millions)

Michael Jackson Thriller

1982

66

AC/DC Back in Black

1980

50

Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon

1973

45

Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell

1977

43

Whitney Houston / Various artists The Bodyguard Soundtrack

1992

42

Eagles Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)

1976

42

Bee Gees / Various artists Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack

1977

40

Fleetwood Mac Rumours

1977

40

Shania Twain Come On Over

1997

39

Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV

1971

37

Michael Jackson Bad

1987

35

Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill

1995

33

Celine Dion Falling into You

1996

32

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

1967

32

Michael Jackson Dangerous

1991

32

That’s THREE albums Jackson has in the all-time Top 15, and Off the Wall isn’t even one of them. (It’s way down the list, a spot or two below HIStory.)

This was one of the pictures originally considered for the album’s cover, which is why they used it for the Special Edition.

Anyway. Today we’re looking at the title track, a song that started as “Starlight” and ended with Quincy Jones’ wife recruiting Vincent Price to do a little white-boy rap.

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