Thursday, July 19, 2007
No. 68: Off The Wall
Band: Michael Jackson
Album: Off The Wall
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Disco, pop and funk, all in one danceable package. Michael Jackson showed the world he was a man now and what a record it was.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Maddeningly uneven, "Off The Wall" is more known for its announcing of Jackson as a solo artist as it is for the songs. The first four singles are pretty great, but the rest is mostly mediocre.
Best song: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," hands down.
Worst song: "It's the Falling in Love" is pretty bad.
Is it awesome?: It's inconsistent, but it is a lot of fun.
At the tail end of disco's reign over the American music buyer, Michael Jackson's breakthrough solo album announced his talents as a man. Just 21, Jackson spent most of "Off The Wall" trying to get people to dance and have fun. Clearly, he was having fun, working his vocal tics, yelps and "oo"s off of Quincy Jones' genius layering.
The record peaks with its first song ("Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"), but sustains (mostly) through the middle of the record until "She's Out of My Life." Save for "She's Out of My Life," the songs are mostly about getting down. It's a disco era specialty theme, but one that resonates with this type of music. It's dance music, plain and simple.
There are some bad songs. The wannabe Parliament-ish "Burn This Disco Out" is pretty bad and the McCartney-penned "Girlfriend" failed as a single because it is a crappy song.
Still, the message is clear. From the opening spoken words of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" to the actual command in the title of "Get On The Floor" to the lyrics of the title track ("leave that nine-to-five upon the shelf / and just enjoy yourself"), Jackson is telling everyone: Start dancing. Look at the cover. He's ready to go, arms moving. It's tough to misinterpret that.