40th Anniversary Mobile Fidelity "One-Step" Thriller Coming November 18th (CLARIFICATION UPDATE!)

LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson today announced that it will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time, with the November 18 release of Michael Jackson Thriller 40, a double CD set comprised of Michael’s original masterpiece Thriller and an exciting second disc full of surprises for fans including never-released tracks which were worked on by Michael for the Thriller album. To date, the album has amassed in excess of 100 million in sales worldwide.

The press release also contains this:

"Mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity will also make available the original Thriller album as a One-Step 180g 33RPM LP, pressed at RTI and strictly limited to 40,000 numbered copies as well as a hybrid SACD. (An UltraDisc One-Step 180g 45RPM 2LP set of Thriller will be released at a future date.)"

CLARIFICATION UPDATE!: The above quote is 100% accurate and true and contains no ambiguities, though it might appears to. Upon my return from High End Munich next week I will post a further clarification with additional information that will satisfy you, me, Mobile Fidelity and The Estate of Michael Jackson. As you know, I was deposed once already by their lawyers and I do not wish to make it twice!

COMMENTS
rich d's picture

A refreshing change from the usual stingy quantities. You really can't beat it. Of course, it'll still sell out - that's just human nature. And, I don't wanna be startin' something, but I ain't the one to buy it. Unless the lady in my life wants a copy.

Anton D's picture

Your post was awesome.

Anton D's picture

So, I am in flux on my opinion.

On the one hand, likely a very well recorded remix, with good music that carries some nostalgia value.

On the other hand, pedophile.

Same sort of dissonance as with many artists: Sinatra beat women, Marvin Gaye abused women, etc...

How do you all approach this sort of thing?

I have no definitive argument either way, I'm interested in what others do/think.

MalachiLui's picture

with people like michael jackson, frank sinatra, marvin gaye, miles davis, etc etc (the list goes on and on forever almost), i approach it from the "separate the art from the artist" standpoint (but there are still limits there - i'd never listen to r kelly or gary glitter, for example).

more complicated is when the problematic artist IS the art, such as serge gainsbourg (or as some would like to argue, kanye west). then it's about knowing how to approach and perhaps appreciate problematic art while acknowledging that it is very much problematic. 'histoire de melody nelson' has clearly fucked up subject matter but told from an artistically fascinating perspective, even though i would never condone that sort of behavior. does that make sense?

otaku2's picture

I felt the same way about MJ, but my wife said 'you listen to Wagner, don't you?' and I had to give in at that point.

firedog55's picture

I listen to stuff I already have, but don't do anything that earns the person (or their estate) money. No additional buying or streaming. Especially in the case of MJ, some of the people making money from his stuff are the same ones that abused/exploited him as a child and helped turn him into a freak.
I will listen to the LP and SACD/DSD master I already have.

Snorker's picture

Thanks for posting Michael. I don't see anything about the MoFi One Step being cut by Bernie Grundman in the Sony press release, the Michael Jackson website, or the Mobile Fidelity website. It would be interesting, since Grundman cut the original LP, but as you note MoFi always cuts "in-house" and does many Sony/Columbia releases, so it would definitely be a first. Are you hearing this from Grundman directly?

Michael Fremer's picture
BG was in the original press release. I didn't hallucinate it but then he was gone!
Russo7516's picture

Has Bernie had enough of the Chad . He went to MOFI to do a one step . 40000 albums and the SACD also

Analog Scott's picture

Chad doesn't have any exclusive on his services

otaku2's picture

I just bought the picture disk, it is pleasant enough but you can hear the needle pass into and out of the pictures as it plays.

MalachiLui's picture

some sound legitimately great, others are meh. pressing an excellent picture disc is not easy.

MrRom92's picture

This is a lie, simply because that’s not how picture discs work. I have the original ‘82 picture disc which too uses Bernie’s mastering and it is pressed quite well with quiet playing surfaces that are the equal of any standard black vinyl record. Though this of course isn’t the case for all picture discs. Unfortunately the disc has yellowed with age so the art doesn’t look quite so vibrant or colorful as it once did. Not an uncommon issue with picture discs from the 80’s.

Michael Fremer's picture
Are pressed totally differently these days. Have you ever seen one pressed? I have. At GZ Media...
Andy1974's picture

Are picture discs worth buying these days? Are they sonically good? I've always ignored them (after buying a couple in the 80's)

MalachiLui's picture

however, it depends on where they're pressed. in my experience, picture discs pressed at erika records (the only place in america that does picture discs, i think) are practically garbage. noisy, warped, very hard to get in good shape. they're display pieces, so avoid those unless that's the only way you can hear an album (erika records doesn't put any identifiers in their runouts, so basically any picture disc that doesn't have a pressing plant code is from there).

GZ picture discs are actually excellent. all picture discs no matter the pressing plant will have a background hiss/whoosh, but as far as pops and clicks, GZ picture discs are very quiet. in fact, my picture disc copy of the 1975's 'notes on a conditional form' has fewer pops and clicks than the clear vinyl also pressed at GZ! but the fidelity isn't as good... the picture discs sound fine, but a little softer and less detailed than standard vinyl.

optimal also presses picture discs, their picture disc pressings are okay but have more surface artifacts and are overall kinda just okay. good, but not spectacular.

that said, i've heard some absolutely phenomenal sounding picture discs that are nice and quiet (despite that minor hiss/whoosh). a good picture disc is better than a mediocre standard vinyl pressing, seriously. i have a few releases where the picture disc is the only vinyl edition, and you won't hear any "ugh it's a picture disc i'd rather have regular vinyl" complaints from me.

Glotz's picture

Rather a mistake, if you claim such.

Picture discs suck sonically, in my experience.

JEB-42's picture

From the MoFi site: "The gorgeous packaging of the Thriller UD1S pressing befits the album's select status. Housed in an open-ended slipcase, the set features a special foil-stamped jacket and faithful-to-the-original graphics that illuminate the splendor of the recording. Aurally and visually, this reissue exists as a curatorial artifact meant to be preserved and examined. It is made for discerning listeners that prize sound quality and production, and who desire to fully immerse themselves in everything involved with the album."

Does that mean MoFi is migrating to a similar style of slip case as the UHQR's from Analog Productions?

GreenMonster2420's picture

You have no actual information or knowledge that this will be cut by Grundman, or from a digital file, yet are comfortable posting this on your website and starting a bunch of unsubstantiated rumors?

Michael Fremer's picture
And I do NOT work from "rumors". The original press release that I received said that Bernie Grundman mastered using the original master tape. And following that, the release said "Mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity will also make available the original Thriller album as a One-Step 180g 33RPM LP". Now that left it wide open for the usual ambiguous major label manipulation. I wondered exactly what that meant. I then heard from someone and I can't say whom or what they said but the press release almost immediately changed and Bernie was gone from it. I didn't make it up or spread any rumors! I was asked not to say anything further until after the Munich High End show and then I'll post again based on facts not rumors.
ankysoho's picture

I respect your efforts to clarify this, but you have to understand that the visibility and authority you have in the vinyl sphere means that you speculating and voicing aloud potentially damaging information about a release or label is impactful. And in the absence of any evidence to back it up, it's pretty indefensible.

You saw Bernie credited in a press release about multiple releases... and two of those releases are a Mobile Fidelity LP and SACD... and your first suspicion was that Bernie would be sending a digital file for Mofi to cut from? Considering Mofi has never done that before, voicing that suspicion without evidence is illogical and irresponsible. The lack of facts is not evidence that whatever conspiracy you decide is happening.

Michael Fremer's picture
The original press release said it was mastered by Bernie Grundman and that Mobile Fidelity would be releasing a One Step. That is highly unusual and based on many previous similar announcements ie: "mastered by Bob Ludwig, vinyl mastering by Bernie Grundman" etc. those turn out to be digitally sourced. Readers always get on my case when i post press releases like that without comment. All i did was offer the possibilities of what the purposeful ambiguity might mean in an attempt to clarify for readers. I did not express SUSPICIONS,. I expressed the possible scenarios based on the unusual press release. In my opnion there's nothing damaging about attempting to provide clarity about what such a press release might mean. The press release was subsequently changed. I did not allege a 'conspiracy'. I pointed out the unusual nature of the original press release. You used words like "damaging", "lack of evidence" "illogical" and "irresponsible aimed at me. I aim those at the press release producers. Clearly you are on their side. When I do post ambiguous press releases and don't comment I get responses like yours claiming I'm a 'shill' for just posting and not questioning. When I question I get your comment. Whatever.
Glotz's picture

NT

Jazz listener's picture

which is providing us with his expert interpretation of what the press release may mean in terms of the specifics of this release. Is it part speculation? Sure, but still based on the information the company itself released. That’s kinda the whole point of this website. You can show yourself out now.

Glotz's picture

Good one!

Analog Scott's picture

Is that really any less speculative? At the end of the day we are getting nothing but the word of reissue labels who have quite unique demands and expectations from their customers that if weren't actually met would never be detected. IOW none of you would ever know if all of these records were being cut from hi res digital copies unless told by the cutting engineer. Consider for a moment what it takes to make 40,000 copies using the one step method. A *minimum* of 80 lacquers per side. MINIMUM. considering rejected laquers and returns of defective LPs you are probably looking at around 100 lacquers per side. And they are going to do this at 33 rpm and 45 rpm? That's now 200 lacquers per side (actually more since the 45 rpm would be 4 sides)? This is early 80s analog tape. Does anyone really think Sony is going to allow Mofi to run the original master tape of Michael Jackson's Thriller 200 times to create what would certainly be a novelty product to Sony? If I'm Sony there is no ****ing way I am letting a licencee put arguably my most valuable master tape, vintage 1982 through 200 runs to make a quieter vinyl pressing when they can make just as quiet of a pressing with no audible differences using a hi res dupe off of the same master tape and do so with a single usage of that tape. I will believe these are made directly off of the original master tape when and only when the actual cutting engineer for these 200 or so lacquers says explicitely that they indeed ran the original master tape through the tape deck 200 or so times in cutting these lacquers.

RubenH's picture

for a niche product. As for me, if the SACD hyb gets good reviews, I'll bite

Analog Scott's picture

so......what can you tell us now?

JEB-42's picture

Great Video from Acoustic Sounds with Chad, John Koenig and Bernie Grundman talking shop. At about 22:18 Bernie talks about cutting Thriller at three different locations. He estimates over 125 times over 2 to 3 years.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgbPnzDmYEU

Analogue+Fan's picture

Another digital LP that may sound good this time.

I exchanged it immediately for another MoFi LP, Kind of Blue from 2015, this is a MoFi mastered By Krieg Wunderlich and Rob LoVerde.

They both have good digital basses -Sony thriller/Sony kind of blue- and also some instruments almost disappear, like the piano, this declines in instrumental detail and ambient finesse.

MoFi is an analog master disaster, for a decent LP.

Jazz listener's picture

actually, don’t bother.

Rashers's picture

With the one step process each lacquer acts as a mother to the stamper. So each lacquer can only be used once - and there are two lacquers for each record. As each stamper - at this price - will likely only be used to press up 500 records - that means 160 lacquers (40,000 records, 2 sides) will be required to do this run. I am assuming that each lacquer must be cut directly from the original master tape - i.e. each sided tape master must run through the machine 80 times to cut the lacquers. That seems like a lot. The original first generation master tapes for Thriller must be the most valuable tapes in the history of recorded music. I cannot imagine that Sony would let them pass through a tape machine 80 times to create that number of lacquers. Moreover, I cannot see BG monotonously cutting that number of lacquers at this stage of his career.
Please correct me if any of these assumptions are wrong - but that is a staggering number of lacquers (I thought they were in short supply after the Apollo factory fire).

MalachiLui's picture

i'm pretty sure each set of stampers is used to press 1000 records, even at this price. after 1000 is when it starts sounding worse, but up to that point it's supposedly pretty consistent (i haven't been able to do any listening tests myself, though). regarding the supply of lacquers, MDC in japan has significantly increased production to meet worldwide demand, though there are questions as to what would happen if MDC disappeared somehow.

Analog Scott's picture

It will be closer to 100. If they are doing this as a 45 rpm and a 33 rpm then double it.

gbougard's picture

Gimme a M original press anytime

azmoon's picture

With all the backordered LPs and One Steps, etc. MoFi has available for "preorder", too bad RTI will waste their capacity to meet a November 2022 release date for this album. 4o,ooo copies. Maybe MoFi has jumped the shark here.

Now we know MoFI is just another greedy company.

Rashers's picture

80 or 200 lacquers - each one of these needs to be cut individually - "from the original masters." This is a whole lot different from Bernie Grundman, Ryan Smith or Kevin Gray carefully cutting a set of lacquers for a AP/BN or VMP release. It is the equivalent of cutting 100 albums - and it is hard to see how quality control can be maintained.
In addition - Sony and Mofi need to identify exactly which master tape they are using? Have they made a new tape from the multi-tracks specifically to cut these lacquers? Did they make a copy of the master tape (not exactly one step)? Mofi have form here - the relatively recent Mofi reissue of "Kind of Blue" was cut using the (new) 1997 master - not the original master tapes. There is nothing necessarily wrong with using a new master, but it should be identified in the hype/blurb.

kozakjj's picture

I hope they don't use the remix.

samman's picture

40,000 copies? Are you kidding me? There's no "collectability" in that many. And, yes, I agree with the posts above stating that in no way are they doing a real One Step with that many copies. You know what, in this situation, I'll keep my first pressing original, which, by the way, sounds kick ass.

DiamonDog's picture

Michael, are you planning on giving us an update or did MoFi & Sony issue a gag order to you?

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