There’s no disputing the legend that was Michael Jackson. Recognised worldwide as the King of Pop, he had more than a handful of number one hits to earn him this well-deserved title. Even after his death, his influence in the music industry remains as strong as it was when he was alive, with artists such as Beyoncé, Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar citing him as one of their idols.
By the time Off The Wall was first released in 1979, Michael Jackson was already well known as the cute kid with a sweet voice from the Jackson 5. This album introduced the then 20 year old artist to the world as a legitimate solo musician, thus changing the face of pop music forever.
As Jackson’s first solo album with Epic Records, it marked his transition from Motown to pop music and would become defining album of the genre, one which Rolling Stone said, “invented modern pop music as we know it.”
Fast forward to 2016 and it has sold over 30 million copies worldwide (a number which, no doubt increases as each day passes) and has reached platinum standard no less than eight times in the US, six times in the UK and five times in Australia.
From a technical point of view, Off The Wall united some of the best musicians, songwriters and producers in the business, containing tracks written by Jackson himself, as well as Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney (to name but a few). Some of the songs featured on this release include Rock With You and Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, tracks which fast became fan favourites and solidified Jackson’s success in the music industry. For those who preferred the softer side of Jackson’s vocals (such as that evident in the Jackson 5’s Ben), there’s She’s Out of My Life and I Can’t Help It.
When it comes down to it, Off The Wall was just one of Jackson’s many hit albums and its recent re-release through Sony Music is just further evidence of its genius. Jackson created a world of musical escapism, exploring his musicality in ways that had never been seen before.
Whether you’re an MJ devotee or a just a fan of music in general, this album is a classic.
(This article was originally published in Art Of Sound Magazine)