Artist – Album: Michael Jackson – Off the Wall
Released: 10th August 1979
Sounds Like: MJ comes into his own
Michael Jackson released his first Greatest Hits album in 1972, with the US only released A Collection of Michael Jackson’s Oldies. The boy was aged just fourteen. Incredibly, this compilation came seven years before Off the Wall, ten years before Thriller and a whopping fifteen before Bad. The King of Pop had already had amassed a legacy in need of a Best Of eons of years before Pepsi (kind of) ruined his nose, before anyone had heard of vitiligo and when Bubbles was just some spark in his chimp daddy’s eye.
Of course, the little boy Michael was quite a different proposition from the full grown, mega-super-dooper star of the Eighties and Nineties. Back then his trademark had been bubblegum pop, where his prodigiously soulful voice was made to croon over songs about Rockin’ Robins and pet rats called Ben. But with 1979’s Off the Wall, the boy became a manchild.
Jackson gave notice of his change of direction with the first single ‘Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough’, a shimmering masterpiece that would be disco’s pinnacle if it wasn’t some sort of funk, rock, R&B and, yes, disco amalgamation. The opening “ooooh” is one of the greatest introductions to a record in history. He keeps up the bright and exciting performance throughout, littering the album with his trademark yelps and vocal ticks, whilst the Quincy Jone’s produced and Jones, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Rod Temperton (among others) written collection was the most consistently strong he’d got his hands on yet. ‘Rock With You’ is sophisticated and smart, ‘Off the Wall’ is another funky classic, whilst ‘Workin’ Day and Night’, ‘It’s the Falling in Love’ and ‘Burn This Disco Out’ are great soul and disco album tracks.
The album is indeed a classic and it’s fascinating to view it as a transitional record. However, it would be a nonsense to suggest that it’s perfect. The songs are still fresh and exciting, but some aspects of the production are slightly dated and clunky. Further, and I know there are huge fans inexplicably out there, but ‘She’s Out of My Life’ may well be the most horrifically schmaltzy tosh I’ve ever heard. Blergh, I'm fake vomiting here.
Albumaday... rating: 9/10
1. Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough – 6:04
2. Rock with You – 3:40
3. Workin’ Day and Night – 5:14
4. Get on the Floor – 4:39
5. Off the Wall – 4:05
6. Girlfriend – 3:05
7. She’s Out of My Life – 3:37
8. I Can’t Help It – 4:29
9. It’s the Falling in Love – 3:48
10. Burn This Disco Out – 3:41
Listen to ‘Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yURRmWtbTbo