Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson had a knack for doing duets. Say Say Say and The Girl Is Mine are both popular amongst fans, although I do prefer Say Say Say and I honestly feel it would have better suited the tempo of Thriller album.
While Thriller is iconic, I much preferred the disco/dance feel that came with Jackson’s 1979 album, Off The Wall. Okay, so disco died with the 70s, but Say Say Say reminds me of that album and makes me want to listen to tracks such as Get On The Floor, Off The Wall, and Burn This Disco Out. That said, Say Say Say was actually released on McCartney’s Pipes Of Peace album. Also on Pipes Of Peace is a further duet by McCartney and Jackson called The Man. It is a B-side at best, and frankly should have been left off McCartney’s album.
Similarly, I feel The Girl Is Mine just doesn’t work for Thriller. That said, as a dedicated non-album single, it would have been a perfect additional to their joint catalogue. It isn’t a bad song, it just seems out of place. Speaking of catalogues, I won’t go into my thoughts on Jackson outbidding McCartney for the Beatles catalogue of music, other than to say it was an act of greed.
Back to the Say Say Say Black Friday RSD 2015 release, I was really impressed. Not only did it present the song in a unique and previously unreleased manner, but it ticked all the boxes of what I believe a limited edition pressing, of 3,500 copies, should offer. It has been pressed on transparent vinyl and simply looks amazing, especially when contrasted with the overall artwork.
It also includes the instrumental version that is exclusive to the Black Friday RSD 2015 release. However, there is an interesting element to this release and that is the Instrumental track was produced by John “Jellybean” Benitez and mixed by Geoff Emerick with assistance from Jon Jacobs. Whereas the lyrical track was mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent and produced by George Martin. Now the length of the instrumental track is the same ~7 minutes as the vocal track. Yet, the original Say Say Say release only has a runtime of just under 4 minutes. I can then conclude that the instrumental track is not from the original, but the 2015 remix. Confused? I am! Perhaps I am missing something really simple here. If anyone can help this confused mind of mine, receive some closure, I would be eternally grateful.
Moving on, I found the artwork and photography to be not only simplistic but elegant. I am truly pleased that this release wasn’t re-issued with the replica artwork. Let’s just say the original artwork truly dates the release to the early 1980s.
This release also comes with a MP3 download code. While I’m glad to see this addition become more mainstream, with vinyl releases, it disappoints me that consumers are not given the option to download the lossless FLAC, WAV, or ALAC files instead of MP3; especially considering the premium price of vinyl and the target audience.
Sonically the record is amazing. The dynamic range, while I have not measured it, must be off the charts. Your body will definitely move involuntarily to the beat. I also found it refreshing to hear the vocals reversed as I feel it is a better mix for the song. It could also be appealing because of it being new and the fact that I have heard Say Say Say countless times over the years.
I also decided to see how the 2015 remix compared against the original song and the 2015 remaster, of the original, that appears on Pipes Of Piece. It is important to note that this is not a fair comparison as the remix is akin to a brand new song, with additional elements, that modernises the sound. That said, I found myself turning back to the new version as the original track lacked musicality. When I listen to the original master from McCartney's All The Best! compilation album and then listen to the 2015 Pipes Of Piece remaster, I actually prefer the 1987 release for its low end and lack of highs. I feel the highs have been lifted too much in the 2015 Pipes Of Piece remaster and it was causing distraction and fatigue when listening, although there was far better instrumental separation.
To be honest, this has been a very challenging look at this release. The various versions and new remasters complicate matters a little, but if I were to recommend the best sounding version, I would seriously suggest you look at the 2015 remix of Say Say Say that is available as part of the Pipes Of Peace (Deluxe Edition) (2015 Reissue) or the Say Say Say Black Friday RSD 2015 release. It is also available on Apple Music and TIDAL, along with a Radio Edit of the 2015 remix that appears to only be on TIDAL at this point in time.
Without a doubt, the 12-inch vinyl remix will take pride of place in my record collection.