“Off The Wall” era (1978-1981)

Off The Wall

Recording sessions : December 1978–June 1980

Studios :  Hayvenhurst home studio, Allen Zentz, Westlake, and Cherokee, Los Angeles, California

Label : CBS Epic Records

Release date : August 10, 1979

Peak on Billboard 200 : 3

Original track listing 

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Rock with You
Working Day and Night
Get on the Floor
Off the Wall
Girlfriend
She’s Out of My Life
I Can’t Help It
It’s the Falling in Love
Burn This Disco Out

Demos/Alternate Versions

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough (demo) : Recorded in 1978 & released in 2001 (Off The Wall Special Edition)

Working Day & Night (demo) : Recorded in 1978 & released in 2001 (Off The Wall Special Edition)

She’s Out Of My Life (demo) : Recorded in 1978 & released in 2009 (This Is It)

She’s Out Of My Life (Alternate take 1) : Recorded in 1978. Full take leaked in 2020 but remains unreleased.

She’s Out Of My Life (Alternate take 2) : Recorded in 1978. Full take leaked in 2020 but remains unreleased.

She’s Out Of My Life (Alternate take 3) : Recorded in 1978. Full take leaked in 2020 but remains unreleased.

Working Day & Night (Uncut Session) : With unreleased ad-libs. Leaked in 2018 but remains unreleased.

Girlfriend (demo) : Recorded on 1978. Full demo leaked in 2017 but remains untreleased.

Rock With You (Rod Temperton Guide Vocal Demo without Michael’s voice) : Recorded in 1978/1979. Full demo leaked in 2019 but remains unreleased.

I Can’t Help It (demo) : Recorded in 1978 & played in 2013/2014 during fan conventions “In Studio With Michael”. Full demo leaked online in 2015. Remains unreleased.

It’s The Falling In Love (demo) : Recorded in 1978/1979. Full demo leaked  in 2020 but remains unreleased.

Get On The Floor (demo) : Recorded in 1978 and contains unreleased deleted verse from the album version. Full demo leaked in 2014 but remains unreleased. 

Outtakes/unreleased tracks from the album’ sessions

Others songs from this era :

Can’t Get Outta The Rain : Recorded in 1978 & released in 1982 (The Girl Is Mine single)

Love Never Felt So Good  : Demo recorded in 1980 with Paul Anka & leaked in 2006. Original demo + 2 new remixes (including one by Timbaland featuring Justin Timberlake) released in 2014 (Xscape)

When You Wish Upon A Star : Recorded in 1980 for Disney’s 25th anniversary. Used in a Disney Channel Special TV Show in 1980 and at the end of “The Legend Continues” documentary in 1987. Remains unreleased.

I Never Heard (This Is It) : Demo recorded in 1980 with Paul Anka. New remix released in 2009 (This Is It). Snippet from the original demo leaked but full original demo remains unreleased.

Don’t Matter To Me : Demo recorded in 1980 with Paul Anka. A snippet is used and released in 2018 on Drake’s song “Don’t Matter To Me”. Original demo remains unreleased.

Save Me : Song by Dave Mason recorded in 1980 and released on his album “Old Crest on a New Wave”. MJ sings background vocals.

Night Time Lover : Song recorded in 1980 by LaToya Jackson. It was the second single from her eponymous debut (1980). The track was produced and co-written by her brother Michael, who provides co-lead vocals on the chorus. They originally wrote the song for Donna Summer under the title “Fire Is The Feeling”.

I’m In love Again : All of Riperton’s vocals were stripped from earlier, original music tracks, and the backing tracks were completely redone. Completed with new musicians, vocalists and arrangements. Producer Quincy Jones described the project as “keeping the bridge, but moving the water”. MJ does background vocals on this song.

The Dude : The song was recorded late 1980 and released in March 1981 on Quincy Jones’s album. James Ingram is the lead vocalist. MJ does background vocals.

This Had To Be : The song was recorded late 1980 and released in April 1981 on The Brothers Johnson’s album Light Up the Night. MJ co-wrote the song.

Songs known to exist but never released/leaked

Singles and videos

TV performances

Destiny Tour 1979-1980

Triumph Tour 1981

Awards

Interviews

Previous era : « Destiny » era (1978)

Next era : Triumph era (1980-1981)

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