The King of Pop re-releases thrilling album

There is no doubt that Michael Jackson is a hit-making machine. Despite the dismal sales of 2001’s Invincible (Sony), Jackson’s classic tunes from the 1982 smash hit Thriller continue to kick ass, two-and-a-half decades after the album’s debut.

Feb. 12’s release of Thriller 25 (Sony Music Distribution), which was the world’s best-selling album of all time, includes all of the original songs, in addition to new tracks starring hot artists Fergie, will.i.am, Akon and Kanye West. “For All Time,” a tune from the original Thriller sessions, appears for the first time on this special two-disc release.

The second disc contains Jackson’s short films “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and “Thriller.” It also contains Jackson’s Emmy-nominated performance of “Billie Jean” from the 1983 TV special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever,” in which one sequined man and two white socks captivated the audience with the “moonwalk.”

“It was Michael mania,” said Mary J. Blige in an interview on Sony-BMG’s website. “It was ‘Billie Jean’ that did it. That was the first time we’d seen Michael dance. Seen Michael, not as the Jackson 5, but Michael as Michael Jackson, dance. Oh my God, he was electrifying.”

The double-disc package proves one thing: No one should tinker with Thriller. Fergie and will.i.am inject their flavor into a few tracks, messing with familiar songs that were done right the first time. Fergie’s pointless vocals on “Beat It 2008” sound suspiciously like Jackson.

“For me, ‘Beat It’ is my jam,” said will.i.am in the interview, imitating the opening beats.

A collaboration between Akon and will.i.am, in contrast to Fergie’s cover, produces a sexified version of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008.” The remix amends the original, as improving the original track is nearly impossible. West’s “Billie Jean 2008” leaves something to be desired: more Kanye. The rapper adds a few grunts, but restrains himself from rapping over the song. This is one time that the Grammy-winner’s ego would have improved the audience’s impression of him.

“All we were trying to do was finish the record,” said Thriller and Thriller 25 record producer Quincy Jones about the original album, in the interview.

“We got eight weeks to get through it . No time for paralysis from analysis,” Jones said.

Adolescents and adults in the ’80s bopped their pretty little permed heads to Jackson’s hits, and the offspring of those music lovers may now discover the moonwalker’s record-setting masterpiece for the first time. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number when it comes to those who love Thriller’s hits.

Celebrate this re-introduction to Jackson: Pop popcorn for his short films, set a couple of hours aside to view “The Wiz” and strap on your dancing shoes before turning up the stereo.

Perhaps America’s obesity problem could be solved if we stopped watching NASCAR and once again started groovin’ to Thriller.