We’re barely a week into 2016 and we’re already seeing a lot of reissue news for this new year! The latest comes from Legacy Recordings, who yesterday announced a massive Elvis Presley box set. Now they’ve got a new reissue featuring another legendary performer: Michael Jackson. Due to be released on February 26 is a new edition of Jackson’s landmark 1979 solo Epic Records debut Off the Wall. The album is being paired with Spike Lee’s new documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall which is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24 and on Showtime at 9 PM ET on Friday, February 5 as a part of Black History Month.
Off the Wall was the first collaboration between Jackson and producer Quincy Jones. It was a departure in more ways than one for Jackson. His last solo album had been for Motown in 1975 (the same year as the final Jackson 5 release on the label). He and his brothers had been recording for Epic as The Jacksons, but his own sound was maturing. The Off the Wall blend of pop, soul, disco and R&B struck an instant chord with audiences and critics alike. The album went multi-platinum and received several awards and has continued to be respected critically, entering the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. Four Top 10 Billboard singles came off the album, with the most successful being “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You.” Off the Wall set up Jackson for his super-stardom of the 1980s which would be cemented by his and Jones’ next collaboration: 1982’s Thriller.
This new package is being released in CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray versions. Note that the CD does not have any bonus tracks. (A 2001 edition featured several interviews and two demos.) Remastering or packaging information has also not been provided. The press release does make mention of the “original version” of the album, but it’s unspecified whether this means the original LP mixes of “Rock with You” and “Get on the Floor” have been reinstated. Special features, if any, for the documentary have also not been announced.
We’ve got Legacy’s press release below which contains more information, including the names of some of the people interviewed for the new documentary. We’ve also got the tracklisting and pre-order links below if you’d like to revisit this album and watch a new film about its history.
NEW YORK, NY – On February 26, during Black History Month, the Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Legacy Recordings will release exclusive CD/DVD and CD/Blu-ray editions of Michael Jackson’s revolutionary 1979 recording, Off The Wall. The package will include the original version of the album bundled with the new documentary Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, directed by Spike Lee. The documentary will make its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2016, and its world television premiere on SHOWTIME on Friday, February 5 at 9 P.M. ET/PT on-air, on demand and over the internet. After its premiere on SHOWTIME, it will be broadcast in territories around the world.
THE ALBUM – The importance of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall cannot be overstated. Recorded when he was just 20 years old, the album heralded Michael’s stunning emancipation as a singular musical force and creative visionary. It smashed the ceiling on record sales for black artists, ushering in an exciting new era of R&B-to-pop crossover airplay, chart, marketing and sales trends not seen before in modern pop music. It’s the record that “invented modern pop as we know it,” wrote Rolling Stone. For fellow black artists of the day, Michael served as an illuminating inspiration.
To Black America, Off The Wall transcended music and entertainment altogether. The success of the album marked a level of national and international achievement that conjured pride in a culture that as late as the end of the 1970s was still fighting for the kind of social acceptance that Michael’s album received. Because of Off the Wall’s indelible influence, 21st century artists as disparate as Beyoncé, Pharrell, Kendrick Lamar and The Weekend all have a blueprint they turned to for creating their superstardom.
Written by Michael Jackson, the first single from Off The Wall, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, was Michael’s first Grammy and first single to hit #1 in the U.S. and internationally as a solo artist. With the singles “Rock With You”, “Off the Wall” and “She’s Out of My Life” Jackson became the first solo artist in history to have four singles from the same album peak inside the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album was an enormous commercial success; as of 2014 it is certified eight times platinum in the United States and has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.
THE DOCUMENTARY – Produced by Spike Lee, John Branca and John McClain. For Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall, director Spike Lee assembles a wealth of archival footage, including material from Michael’s personal archive, interviews with contemporary talents and family members, and Michael’s own words and image to create this insightful chronicle from the star’s early rise to fame through the release of this seminal album. A look at a chapter of his career that is rarely examined, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall allows audiences to travel with Michael as he gets his start at Motown, strikes a new path with CBS Records, and forges a relationship with legendary producer Quincy Jones. An illuminated portrait emerges of how an earnest, passionate, hard-working boy would become the “King of Pop.”
Partial list of interviews: Lee Daniels; The Weeknd; Pharrell Williams; Misty Copeland, Kobe Bryant; Mark Ronson; John Legend; Questlove; Katherine Jackson; Joe Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Jackie Jackie L.A. Reid and more.
Michael Jackson, Off the Wall (Epic LP 35745, 1979 – reissued Legacy Recordings, 2016)
Disc 1 – CD
- Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
- Rock With You
- Working Day and Night
- Get On the Floor
- Off the Wall
- She’s Out of My Life
- I Can’t Help It
- It’s The Falling In Love
- Burn This Disco Out
Disc 2 – DVD or Blu-ray
- Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall