And wow. He's surely a deeply disturbed kook; he might be a monster; but in his prime he was such a musician.
The album wobbles a bit at the start. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' is great, but Baby Be Mine is nondescript and the Paul McCartney collaboration, The Girl Is Mine, is slightly embarrassing — particularly the spoken exchanges between McCartney and Jackson.
But then you get the killer triple-punch of Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean. What a combination.
Allmusic is snotty about Thriller: "the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track [...], arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum". Well, phooey. The momentum's already been sapped by then; Thriller picks it back up and drives it forward.
It's not just a great track: it's enormously evocative of childhood memories. Staying up late to see the premiere of the video on Channel 4. That black-and-red leather jacket. The dancing zombies. That school trip to Germany, on which a classmate bought the album in a German record shop and listened to it non-stop on his Walkman for the next three days. The opening horn sting alone (DAA-DAAAH! DAA-DA-DAH!) is enough to send tingles up your spine.
I am mighty pleased with this purchase.