‘Off The Wall’ shows promise of young Michael Jackson

Off The Wall

Off The Wall

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I’m sure I’ve told you this a million times before that I’m a big fan of Michael Jackson, but then aren’t we all? His estate and record label are extremely astute at keeping his legacy alive and finding new ways to present his incredible back catalogue.

Next month ‘Off The Wall,’ his 1979 album is having the reissue treatment with all the usual extras you would expect including a glossy booklet and a documentary directed by Spike Lee. When Jackson is discussed there are no end of plaudits for ‘Thriller’ which is understandable as it did rather well sales wise. More than 100m copies at last count and still has the accolade as the world’s biggest-selling album. A record that will probably stand for a while yet.

Darren Milby, presenter with The Bay radio, with Faye Bowness in the studio on St George's Quay.

Darren Milby, presenter with The Bay radio, with Faye Bowness in the studio on St George's Quay.

So it’s no wonder that ‘Off The Wall’ is often overlooked by fans and critics alike. There are tracks on the record that everyone will know including ‘Rock With You’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ but it’s also crammed with hidden gems which makes it really worth a listen if you are not familiar.

Jackson recorded the album at the age of 20, his first with producer Quincy Jones. Of Course Michael Jackson was a child star with his brothers at Motown. He had released solo records previously but ‘Off The Wall’ was his coming of age. He really found his trademark vocal style with all the yelps and ows and shee hees he is so famous for. It was also the first time we heard his gruff powerful voice on tracks like ‘Workin’ Day And Night.’ He was always known as a soul singer but this album was more than just soul, it was funky. And heartfelt at the same time. The ballad ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ is simply beautiful.

The album was a massive indicator of what was to come. Jackson was a great pioneer of the music video and you will see some his early experiments in the field with this album. They may look a little primitive by today’s standards but at the time they were considered cutting edge and no one else was making them.

Rolling Stone Magazine once described the album as the record that “Invented modern pop music as we know it.” High praise indeed.