ARTIST: Michael Jackson
TITLE: Off the Wall
YEAR RELEASED: 1979
CHART ACTION: #3 US, #3 UK
SINGLES: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (#1 US, #3 UK), Rock with You (#1 US, #7 UK), Off the Wall (#10 US), She’s Out of My Life (#10 US, #3 UK), Girlfriend (#41 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Working Day and Night
LINEUP: Michael Jackson, and session musicians galore. On most tracks: Gary Grant, Marlo Henderson, Jerry Hey, Kim Hutchcroft, Louis Johnson, Greg Phillinganes, John Robinson, David Williams, Larry Williams.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Freed from Motown, Jackson and Quincy Jones reinvent the performer as the quintessential pop star and start his path to music domination.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s hard to believe, but in 1978 Michael Jackson was basically old news. Yeah, he had talent, but he and his brothers were on the decline until they hit with “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground” after getting creative control. At the same time, Michael and Quincy Jones were working on this, which proved Michael was back in full force.
Jackson trusted Jones. Michael wrote just three tracks on the album, and Jones got Rod Temperton to write three more, and four other supplemental tracks (including contributions from Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and Carole Bayer Sager). Working the studio like an artist paints a masterpiece, Jones arranged a sonic delight, and Jackson’s ear and talent made vast contributions as well.
The opening track, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is full of goodies for those who listen closely. Written by Jackson, it may be his masterpiece of all masterpieces. It certainly got him back on the map.
Not every cut is blazing hot. Nothing is bad, but a couple are just OK (sorry, Sir Paul McCartney). Still, the closing deep cut “Burn This Disco Out” closes the record on a high note, and begs you to flip it over and start again.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: The solo album he released before this, 1975’s Forever Michael, hit #101 on the charts.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some demos and interviews.
GRADE: A: Not a perfect record, but its flaws are minimal.