Sound — 9
"Off the wall" was the first of a trilogy of classic collaborations between the now adult, solo Jackson and producer Quincy Jones. The albums sound is feelgood, vibrant soul/funk/disco at its very best. "Don't stop till you get enough" and "Rock with you" are classics that really make you move, and "Rock with you" is particually delivered with passion. But the albums quality goes far beyond its most famous spawn, with album tracks like "Get on the floor", "Burn this disco out" and Stevie Wonder-penned "I can't help it" being fantastic, less known cuts, following Jacksons ideology that every song should be a hit. The first half of the album is disco- not to say that the tracks don't all have stand alone brilliance, but they are a similar mould. Then the later tracks show a little more diversity, with "Girlfriend", written by McCartney, being a typical simplistic pop song of his. Another memorable moment was "Shes out of my life", the ballad which is the one down track on the album. By closer "Burn this disco out", Off the wall has come nicely full circle.
Lyrics — 9
Jacksons vocals are a highlight of the album and are perfect on every track. His range was terrific at this time and he did not feel the need to pepper every utterance with random hiccups, stutters and "shamoans". The lyrics and vocal delivery of each track fit the mood perfectly. For better or worse, Jacksons eccentricity would come into his work progressively more with each album. On "Off the wall", his songwriting contribution is limited but more than respectable, "Don't stop..", "Working day and night" and "Get on the floor" being self-written and among the best. Lyrically the album is pretty much about feeling good, syncing perfectly with the music, but it also mostly avoids cliche, such as in "Don't stop..." where "the force" is used as an extended metaphor. His later albums were arguably saturated by sickly humanitarian ballads and self-pity, and we are spared this on "Off the wall".
Overall Impression — 9
In conclusion Off The Wall is one of his bests; an album that isnt complex, doesn't try to save the world from famine, and doesn't try to revolutionize pop. It is basically an album about music. Although it has some creative sounds, such as the bottle blowing and hitting used to make the percussion for "Working day and night" and "Don't stop...", as well as the freaky cackling at the start of "Off the wall", it is not as innovotive as its successor "Thriller", ultimately becoming overshadowed. Rather than being timeless, "Off the wall" has kind of aged into being a great record of its time, which is no bad thing, and you could argue a case for it being as good to listen to as "Thriller". It is just more straightforward in terms of songwriting and style.