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Live At the Forum

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Album Review

Live at the Forum contains two previously unissued performances from the Jackson 5. On June 20, 1970, the brothers were popular enough to attract well over 18,000 people — many of whom screamed, some of whom rushed the stage — to the Inglewood, CA venue. They had two albums to draw upon but threw in some covers, like a somewhat ragged version of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” and a loose take on Sly & the Family Stone's “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin.” Unsurprisingly, the dynamically performed hits generate the loudest response. Given the hysteria from note one of “The Love You Save,” which had just hit number one on the soul chart, the group could have been forgiven for spinning out of control, but they fed off the energy of their fans, awestruck yet realizing their power. When the Jacksons returned on August 26, 1972, they were a full-blown pop culture phenomenon and had released four additional albums. There is not much overlap with the 1970 show; some of the older material is incorporated into medleys and they roll through everything with professional finesse without losing their connection to the crowd. The scripted banter sounds more natural, too. Michael, who gets a significant chunk of the set for his solo material, struggles a little with his changing voice, but those who know the studio versions inside-out will find the issue more charming than awkward. Also containing an additional live cut at the end of each disc, Live at the Forum is a treat for J5 fans, essential for those who picked up Hip-O Select's In Japan! (the first U.S. release of a 1974 Osaka gig). The packaging here is more elaborate, featuring in-depth liner notes from professor and author Mark Anthony Neal, several photos, and a set of detachable black-and-white photo cards.

Biography

Formed: 1966 in Gary, IN

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest phenomenons in pop music during the early '70s, and the last great group to come out of the Motown hitmaking machine before Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder shifted the label's focus to more individual visions. The Jackson 5's infectious brand of funky pop-soul was a definite departure from the typically smooth, elegant Motown sound, as befitting the group's youth and the dawn of a new decade. That youth, coupled with the merchandising juggernaut that sprang up...
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