Friday, 1 April 2016

What we're listening to. Michael Jackson 'Off the Wall'.

Spike Lee's excellent Documentary 'Journey from Motown to Off the Wall', spiked our interest in what we always knew was a great Album. It also marks Spike Lee's ongoing interest in Michael Jackson.

The documentary premiered at Sundance in February and it's a really excellent reminder of the time and the record. If you see it along the way, watch it.

This Album is from 1979 it was in fact, Jackson's fifth studio album but notably his first with Producer Quincy Jones over which there were great doubts in the business when it became known - he was seen as too 'jazzy' a producer. 

Jackson and Jones became friends in making 'The Wiz' (a version of The Wizard of Oz) in 1978 (with Jackson as The Scarecrow) but Jones is undoubtedly, the stunning producer of the decade. It is Jones, that in our view, finds that Michael Jackson sound.

Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney wrote two of the songs on the record, Jackson wrote three and including 'Don't Stop til you get enough' but all of them marked a big departure from his 'Motown Sound'. In fact it was also a controversial move away from Motown's Berry Gordy and into the hands of Epic Records. Perhaps seen (and certainly by Gordy) as disloyal given that Motown had developed Jackson's career. But Motown's control was the issue and Jackson wanted creative freedom.

It's funk, disco and ballads ('She's out of my life') and remains one of the best selling Albums of all times with lots of awards (8 times platinum, Grammy Hall of Fame). 

'Rock with you', 'Workin' Day and Night' is a real disco classic (and Streamabout's favourite here), as is 'Get On the Floor' and 'Off the Wall' has all the production values of 'Thriller' which followed this record in 1982. 

Thriller was another Quincy Jones record too ('Billie Jean', 'Beat it') and in itself, 'Thriller' is THE best selling Album of all time and by a long way at that.

So 'Off the Wall' is the roots of 'Thriller' which brings Jackson total infamy.

It should be remembered too, that Jackson recorded 'Off the Wall' aged 21(!), remarkable in itself and he died aged 51 in 2009. 

There can be little doubt that he was a genius and a sublime vocalist nevermind, magnificent dancer (and a huge fan of Gene Kelly). Just an extraordinary man who ended so tragically. Such a loss.

Now listen to this, get into the groove and just try not to shake it baby.....the magic of Michael Jackson....

Previous "listen to's" you'll also find on this blog.......Carole King Tapestry; Beatles Red Album; Sex Pistols Never mind the Bollocks; Sam Cooke Live at Harlem Square; The Doors LA Woman; Thin Lizzy Live & Dangerous; Kendrick Lamarr Butterfly; Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace; Clapton 461; Massive Attack Blue Lines; The Clash London Calling; Chris Isaak At The Filmore; Bob Dylan Street Legal; Bad Company Straight Shooter; Jackson Browne Love is Strange; Lou Reed Transformer; Steely Dan AJA; Stones Black+Blue; Stephen Bishop Careless; Nils Lofgren Night after Night; Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells; Neil Young Harvest; Led Zep 4; David Bowie David Live; Van Morrison It's too late to stop now; Wings Band on the run; Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing; Ryan Adams Heartbreaker; Santana Essential; Bob Dylan Desire; Roxy Music For your pleasure; Bob Marley Legend; Stephen Fretwell Magpie; James Taylor Sweet Baby James; Deep Purple Machine Head; Springsteen Darkness on the edge of town; Leon Bridges Coming Home; Eagles Hotel California; Jungle; Aretha Soul Queen; Neil Young After the Goldrush + Harvest; Zappa Overnite Sensation; Fleetwood Mac Rumours; Keith Jarrett Koln Concert; Doobies Southbound; Stevie Earle I feel Alright; Tom Waits Closing Time; Pink Floyd Dark Side; Van Morrison Moondance; Eric Church Caught in the Act; Randy Newman Little Criminals; Elton John Madman across the water; Patti Smith Horses; Doobies Captain and Me; Steely Dan Can't Buy a Thrill.