Album #450 – Off The Wall

Album #450

Off The Wall was Michael Jackson’s first solo smash. Prior to the release of this album, Jackson was still a full fledged member of the Jackson 5, even though he had released a few solo singles prior to Off The Wall. But, you can really pinpoint the release of this album, almost 35 years ago, as the start of a solo career that would impact music and popular culture. Thriller’s release was 4 years away but, you can already see the roots of that album on Off The Wall. Jackson’s first collaboration with producer Quincy Jones, combines r&b, funk, African music, disco, jazz and pop in an accessible form. I couldn’t sit still while listening to Off The Wall. The rhythms were infectious and my feet couldn’t stop tapping. But, this album is not all upbeat. Jackson also shows off his sensitive side through the ballads that fill up most of side two including a cover of Paul McCartney’s song Girlfriend, She’s Out of My Life and I Can’t Help It. Many have compared Jackson’s vocal performance on Off The Wall to Stevie Wonder. They wouldn’t be far off as Wonder co-wrote a song from Off The Wall. Many of the finest studio musicians worked with Michael on Off The Wall including David Foster, Larry Carlton, John “JR” Robinson and Paulinho De Costa. Say what you will about him but, he always used the finest musicians to augment his sound. This is something that does not exist in music anymore. Session musicians and singers have been replaced by computers. You would think many artists of today, who are influenced by the King of Pop, would use real musicians. Sadly, this is not the case. Off The Wall showcases the sounds that would define Michael’s solo career and is a glimmer into what pop music would become in the 1980’s. You could say Jackson was slightly ahead of his time. But, he definitely shows the change that would come about in the next decade, which divides music fans to this day. Other highlights: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Rock With You, Get On The Floor, Off The Wall and Burn This Disco Out. Overall, I give Off The Wall, 4 out of 5.

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