Before you read this, yes, I'm very well aware this is one day behind, but I'm new here and I need something simple to start off with, so why not?
Anyway, one month ago today, on February 26th, 2016, Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson released a special reissue of Off the Wall. The revolutionary album, released in 1979, was Jackson's first major record as a solo artist, as well as his first non-Motown record as a solo artist, and featured some of his biggest hits like "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough", "Rock with You" and "Working Day and Night".
But why did this happen you might ask? Because this was no ordinary reissue. The newest edition to Off the Wall included a remastered CD of the original album - no bonus tracks, nothing - and a DVD (or for a few extra bucks, a Blu-ray) of an all-new documentary by Spike Lee called "Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall". This marks his second documentary about the King of Pop, following 2012's "Bad 25" which documented the creation and impact of the Bad album, which marked its 25th anniversary that year.
Also, the Off the Wall reissue includes a piece of chalk so that people who purchase this can use the chalk to draw messages or whatever inside the case. And don't worry, it's erasable.
The film tells the "pre-Thriller" days of Michael's career, starting from his origins at Motown as part of The Jackson 5 with hits such as "I Want You Back" (1969), "ABC" (1970), "The Love You Save" (1970), "I'll Be There" (1970) and "Dancing Machine" (1974) before crossing over to also do his own music; his first solo number-one hit being "Ben" (1972). The discussion then turns over to the J5 leaving Motown and signing up with Epic Records with the exception of Jermaine, who stayed with the company to become a solo artist and was replaced with their youngest brother Randy. The band, renamed The Jacksons, continued to spawn hits such as "Enjoy Yourself" (1976), "Blame It On The Boogie" (1978), "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" (1978), "Can You Feel It" (1980), "Heartbreak Hotel" (1980), "Lovely One" (1980) and "State of Shock" (1984). We also hear a little bit about Michael's role in The Wiz (1978) as the Scarecrow and then finally, the discussion turns over to the topic of this film - the Off the Wall album.
The documentary featured interviews with many artists who Michael influenced including Questlove, The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams and Mark Ronson. Also interviewed were John Branca (executor of the MJ Estate), Berry Gordy Jr (founder of Motown), Stevie Wonder (who co-wrote "I Can't Help It" on the album), people who worked at Sony/Epic, some of Michael's own family members (his parents Joseph and Katherine and brothers Jackie and Marlon). Even basketball superstar Kobe Bryant showed up.
Overall, "Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall" is a decent watch. I'd give it at least 3 out of 5 stars. Could have been better, could have been worse. In my opinion, Spike Lee's "Bad 25" (2012) is the superior out of his two films about MJ, but it's still a good watch. The true highlight of the film though, specifically for diehard Michael Jackson fans, is the live footage from The Jacksons' 1981 Triumph Tour. Fans of Michael, like myself, have desired for an official release of a concert from the Triumph Tour for years now. This is without of doubt one of Michael's best tours of his life and the live footage in the documentary clearly showed he was very much in his prime. A live album, "The Jacksons Live" was released the same year as the tour featuring the audio from one of the shows and it is a very thrilling listen. But we really want to see the video footage and since the Estate has the sources, maybe they should take this opportunity, especially since many of us fans want it.
Anyway, if you don't have Off the Wall, I still recommend picking this version up. Sure, there's no bonus tracks or anything or any special features on the Blu-ray/DVD, but you'll still have the documentary - which again is a decent watch - and the album in its original form. If you already have Off the Wall, it's really more or less up to you if you choose to purchase this, especially if you're a Michael Jackson fan.
Just in case you wish to purchase this release, I will leave a link to it on Amazon.com...
Off the Wall 2016 Disc 1 (CD):
1. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough
2. Rock with You
3. Working Day and Night
4. Get on the Floor
5. Off the Wall
7. She's Out of My Life
8. I Can't Help It
9. It's the Falling in Love
10. Burn This Disco Out
Off the Wall 2016 Disc 2 (DVD/Blu-ray):
* Michael Jackson's Journey from Motown to Off the Wall