6/26/2009

Milestones: 'Off the Wall'


[This one was already on our list of albums which celebrate significant milestones this year. We were going to feature it closer to the anniversary of its release but sadly, for obvious reasons, we decided to post it now. -KJ]

MICHAEL JACKSON

Off The Wall

[Epic-1979]

We never really got into the massive-selling Thriller; too overblown, too polished for our taste. (Not even the presence of one of our all-time heroes, Mr. Edward Van Halen on “Beat It”, could ignite much of a spark for the album.) That’s not to say we didn't enjoy one or two album tracks—namely “Human Nature” and “Pretty Young Thing”—but Off The Wall was not only more to our liking, it’s actually the blueprint for Thriller itself.

It seems weird to say this, since these two albums were released only three years apart, but Off The Wall was the product of a different, simpler time: during the infamous “Disco Sucks” shenanigans that polarized many popular music fans; before the rise and questionable dominance of MTV; and before Jackson’s notorious eccentricity had begun to overshadow his talent. Regardless, Off the Wall is a cohesive, visionary album—produced by the great Quincy Jones—made under relatively little pressure. Yes, Jackson was one of the most famous pop stars in the world, both alone and with his brothers, but expectations were nowhere near what they have become since, especially in the post-Thriller world. [nostalgia kicking in...now]

In any event, the results more than speak for themselves: thirty years later—damn!—Off The Wall may have been overshadowed by the monster that was Thriller, but the truth is, artistically speaking, the latter will never eclipse Jackson’s definitive statement as a solo artist. Off the wall, indeed.

Faves: “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough”, “Rock with You”, “Girlfriend”, and the magnificent title track.

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