The album sparked Jackson’s emancipation from child prodigy to a pop force with which none could compete.
Sony Legacy Recordings has reissued the seminal pop album, Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, complete with extras. Originally released in 1980, the album was an immediate hit and crossover onto the mainstream charts. Jackson was a mere 20 years old at the time, and the album sparked his emancipation from child prodigy to a pop force with which none could compete. It was also his first album without his brothers.
Off The Wall marked the first time in musical history that one artist spawned four Top 10 singles at the same time from one album. The first single, “Don’t Stop (Till You Get Enough),” went straight to No. 1 on the mainstream charts, and three other tracks, “Rock with You,” “She’s Out of My Life,” and the über danceable title track made this album an eight-time platinum phenom. Selling more than 30 million copies worldwide, the Quincy Jones–produced opus smashed the mold of what Black artists were presumed capable of. Jackson opened the door for R&B to cross over to the American mainstream. Off the Wall still remains alongside Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Adele’s 25 as one the bestselling albums of all time.
The new version of the CD comes equipped with a piece of chalk: to write on the brick wall of the inner CD. The music is as fresh today as it was upon its initial release. The album is coupled with a documentary DVD, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. Directed by Spike Lee, it contains never-before-seen footage of a young Jackson and his brothers. Interviews with stars including Kobe Bryant, Valerie Simpson, Rosie Perez, and David Byrne show the influence this album had across the board. The film includes conversations with a young Michael Jackson, his father Joe, along with his mother, and recent chats with Marlon and Waylon Jackson. All of these make for an informative and intimate look at the young star who would soon be crowned The King of Pop.
The success and phenomenon of Off the Wall cannot be denied. Its influence can be heard even today in the works of many an R&B and rap artist, as well as pop music, in general. Off the Wall made it evident, even then, this was one artist who would go down in history. A+ | Marc Farr