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Old 12-18-2011, 08:14 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Michael Jackson: Off The Wall- 1979


Michael Jackson Off The Wall- 1979
RMR Album Rating- 3


Let’s start by clearing up two common misconceptions that many people have with this album.
–First, many people think “Off The Wall” is Michael Jackson’s first solo album.
–Second, many people think “Off The Wall” is a groundbreaking album.
These two misconceptions go hand in hand, and they falsely support each other. It’s like a philosophy or math “if/ then statement.” The statement would read like this: If “Off the Wall” is Michael Jackson's debut album, then "Off The Wall" must be a groundbreaking album. However, as with all if/ then logic statements, if one side of the equation is false, then the equation doesn’t work, and in this case— both sides of the equation are false, so the whole equation completely crumbles.

I had to look up the term to refresh my memory, but it’s called a “false proof,” so let me point out the “false proof” in the if/ then statement above, and at the same time, clear up the misconceptions that I originally pointed out about this album.

First, many people think “Off The Wall” is Michael Jackson’s first solo album: FALSE
“Off The Wall is actually Michael’s 5th solo album. He released his first solo record, “Got To Be There” in 1972, followed by “Ben” in the same year, “Music & Me” in 1975, and then finally “Forever, Michael” in 1975. However, I will point out that “Off The Wall” is dramatically different from his first 4 solo efforts because those albums were really a part of the Jackson 5 package, and they were all released by Motown Records. “Off the Wall” marks Michael’s departure from Motown, and it is his first album released on Epic Records. It is also Michael’s first collaboration with Quincy Jones, who was instrumental in helping Jackson find his signature sound.

Second, many people think “Off The Wall” is a groundbreaking album: FALSE
I certainly consider “Off The Wall” to be Michael’s breakout album, but I definitely don’t consider it to be groundbreaking, and this is where the confusion sets in for many fans and critics. On “Off The Wall,” Michael definitely breaks away from the restraints of the Motown label, the Jacksons 5, and his child-like image. Plus, for the first time, he gets some song writing credits, whereas while at Motown all the songs were either covers or written by other songwriters. So, I guess you could make the claim that the album is groundbreaking compared to what Michael Jackson had done in the past, but the album is in no way groundbreaking compared to what other artists and bands where releasing at the time or compared to what Michael would release in the future.

I’ll elaborate further by saying that although Michael and Quincy Jones put in the effort to create an album that would not sound like a Motown record— most of the songs on “Off the Wall” still sound like Motown songs. To me, most of the songs don’t sound any different than what you would hear from a Motown cover band at a wedding (just with much better vocals), and Motown wedding band songs don’t equal groundbreaking in my book.

As for the actual songs, Michael’s vocals are undoubtedly excellent on every song, but he is still far from creating his signature sound. Of the 10 songs on the album, only “Don’t Stop ‘till You Get Enough,” “Rock with You,” and “Off the Wall” really stand out. “Don’t Stop ‘till You Get Enough,” which was written by Michael, is excellent, and it is easily the best song on the album. It is also the only song on the album that gives us a glimpse of what Michael would have in store for us on his next few releases. ("Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough" YouTube Clip Below). “Rock With You” and the title track are both great dance songs, and they both clearly demonstrate Michael’s amazing range of vocal diversity as he alternates between several different vocal tones in each song, so they are definitely winners as well. ("Off The Wall" YouTube Clip Below).

There are two other Jackson penned songs (“Working Day and Night” and “Get on the Floor”), but they really just sound like classic Motown songs with a modern twist and some added Jackson flair. As for the other songs, I will give some credit to “She’s Out of My Life.” It is the album’s main ballad, and Jackson’s voice certainly sounds fantastic. However, to me, the song could have fit in on any of Jackson’s previous solo efforts or any Jackson 5 album for that matter. Then, you have “Girlfriend,” which was written by Paul McCartney. On paper, a McCartney written song performed by Michael Jackson should be a slam-dunk, but it is my least favorite song on the record. As for the other songs— everything else is really pretty much forgettable.

Ultimately, I think this album is severely overrated. There is no doubt that Michael Jackson would go on to create some of the most innovative and timeless pop songs ever laid down to tape— I just don’t think his legacy starts with “Off the Wall.”



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Last edited by RMR; 12-18-2011 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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“Off The Wall is actually Michael’s 5th solo album. He released his first solo record, “Got To Be There” in 1972, followed by “Ben” in the same year, “Music & Me” in 1975, and then finally “Forever, Michael” in 1975. However, I will point out that “Off The Wall” is dramatically different from his first 4 solo efforts because those albums were really a part of the Jackson 5 package, and they were all released by Motown Records. “Off the Wall” marks Michael’s departure from Motown, and it is his first album released on Epic Records. It is also Michael’s first collaboration with Quincy Jones, who was instrumental in helping Jackson find his signature sound.

Second, many people think “Off The Wall” is a groundbreaking album: FALSE
I certainly consider “Off The Wall” to be Michael’s breakout album, but I definitely don’t consider it to be groundbreaking, and this is where the confusion sets in for many fans and critics. On “Off The Wall,” Michael definitely breaks away from the restraints of the Motown label, the Jacksons 5, and his child-like image. Plus, for the first time, he gets some song writing credits, whereas while at Motown all the songs were either covers or written by other songwriters. So, I guess you could make the claim that the album is groundbreaking compared to what Michael Jackson had done in the past, but the album is in no way groundbreaking compared to what other artists and bands where releasing at the time or compared to what Michael would release in the future.
I personally like his 70s material, prior the release of Off The Wall.

In a sense, I would think that Jackson developed a lot of his studio qualities by working with Quincy Jones.

Its defiantly a classic, maybe one of those albums that gained more popularity after Thriller. Kinda like Bleach did after Nevermind?
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't remember liking it much in the past. Rock With You is ok. Don't really care how groundbreaking it is or not, just whether it is any good.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't remember liking it much in the past. Rock With You is ok. Don't really care how groundbreaking it is or not, just whether it is any good.
I do think that being a groundbreaking album is an important component to some albums, and I consider an album's overall impact in my reviews. As for this one, I only bring up the issue of being groundbreaking because so many reviewers claim that it groundbreaking, and I just don't see it. The All Music Guide raves about "Off The Wall." They gave it a 5 out 5, which is higher than they scored "Bad."

At the end of the day, I'm with you. The main issue is whether the album is good and memorable, and for me, "Off The Wall" just doesn't really stick.

"Thriller" was really Jackson's first groundbreaking album, and I think "Bad" is his magnum Opus, where he wrote 8 of the 10 songs himself, and 9 of those songs were all released as charting singles over a period of 2-years. Whether you like Michael Jackson and pop music or not, that's an amazing accomplishment.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I personally like his 70s material, prior the release of Off The Wall.

In a sense, I would think that Jackson developed a lot of his studio qualities by working with Quincy Jones.

Its defiantly a classic, maybe one of those albums that gained more popularity after Thriller. Kinda like Bleach did after Nevermind?
Good analogy to Nirvana. I think that's well put and dead on. I agree on all your points except for it being a classic... it just doesn't really strike a chord with me outside of the songs that I mention in the review: "Don't Stop," "Rock with You," and "Off The Wall."
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well the All Music Guide critic who rated it was probably a bit of a Michael Jackson fan. For most people I suspect - and me - the best he did was Thriller. He seems a prime example of image and promotion ultimately superceding achievement. As the years passed he couldn't live up to the billing.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Good analogy to Nirvana. I think that's well put and dead on. I agree on all your points except for it being a classic... it just doesn't really strike a chord with me outside of the songs that I mention in the review: "Don't Stop," "Rock with You," and "Off The Wall."
Honestly, the only reason I suggested it was a classic, was mostly for sentimental reasons only. I remember when that actual album debuted, and it wasn't nothing as popular then. The genre (funk/soul/Contemporary R&B) itself was basically weak during that particular era, if I stand correct. Jackson later on prevailed/excelled in his career, which in return, he was then knocked off by Nirvana in the 90s.

Reminds me of The Rolling Stones - Tumbling Dice.
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i love Off the Wall

it still sounds pretty disco-ish, and has none of the "extreme" slickness of Thriller - i like a record with noticeable flaws

then again, i only have this and Thriller and a Jacksons comp, so i don't feel there's any basis for comparison with his other work - i just stopped caring to look for his other stuff and i only got OTW, part of nostalgia (my cousin used to play it all the time on a 8-track), part tribute (i got it shortly after his death) and part being recommended to by a man of good music taste
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Old 12-20-2011, 07:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
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i love Off the Wall

it still sounds pretty disco-ish, and has none of the "extreme" slickness of Thriller - i like a record with noticeable flaws

then again, i only have this and Thriller and a Jacksons comp, so i don't feel there's any basis for comparison with his other work - i just stopped caring to look for his other stuff and i only got OTW, part of nostalgia (my cousin used to play it all the time on a 8-track), part tribute (i got it shortly after his death) and part being recommended to by a man of good music taste
Not a huge Jackson fan either. I'll eventually review "Thriller" and "Bad" just for historical purposes because they both certainly deserve recognition in the history of rock and pop music. "Thriller" certainly set the bar and is still the top seller, but to me "Bad" his is best.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:52 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thriller was good for its time, but i still feel it is a bit too "slick"
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