This album is where many Michael Jackson collections start. Off the Wall features a grown-up MJ saturated in the seventies disco-pop scene. One can easily hear the disco and funk themes throughout this album, especially in the bass lines. Casual listeners will point to the first two tracks as the albums main highlights, but the rest of the album should not be discounted. Michael does a fantastic job with song selection; selecting a wide variety of tracks within the disco-pop genre. The majority of the tracks here are the foot-tapping, dance tracks one expects from the pop king. His voice is absolutely perfect for music and it is showcased on throughout this album in a variety of ways. His upper range is used often and with ease. Combined with the addictive melodies, Off the Wall is shadowed only by Thriller as Jackson’s greatest album.
Off the Wall is surprisingly good considering the disco influence. There are not many songs I tolerate where the vocals are almost all falsetto and fewer still I consider good, but “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” pulls it off. I point out that Michael wrote three of the tracks on this album including the popular this popular track. Many assume he was only a pop singer and performer, but he also had very good songwriting abilities that can also be seen on his later albums. “Workin’ Day and Night” is another Jackson composition. Although a bit busy, it is also catchy and addictive. I also enjoy “Girlfriend,” written by Paul McCartney. Although, super fluffy like most of McCartney’s solo stuff, Michael does a nice job converting the ‘cute’ vocals into a track that is enjoyable. “It’s the Falling in Love” and the invigorating “Burn This Disco Down” conclude this wonderful album.
Off the Wall is not of Thriller caliber, but is still incredibly good. If you like Michael’s later music, this is certainly a great addition. Do not let the disco label turn you away. I more or less uniformly dislike disco, but love this album. Sure, the craziness surrounding Michael just increased throughout the eighties and nineties, but he did produce some of the best pop music out there – starting with Off the Wall.
By: Rocky Sullivan