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The Jacksons

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Album Review

After the commercial reprieve of the innovative "Dancing Machine" single (and album of the same name), the Jackson 5's successful five-year relationship with Motown and Berry Gordy ended. Their last Motown effort, Moving Violation, had barely made a dent. After an acrimonious split, brother Jermaine Jackson stayed at Motown, and Gordy fought and won, keeping the Jackson 5 moniker. The Jacksons isn't only their Epic label debut, it's the first album to feature youngest brother Randy Jackson. To ensure chart success, the group was teamed with Philadelphia producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, as well as their staff of writers and players. Despite the promise, The Jacksons is hampered by derivative tracks and a lack of knowing what to do with the group, particularly lead singer, Michael Jackson. The big hit here, the jerky "Enjoy Yourself," perfectly captured Michael Jackson's late adolescence, with his newfound vocal tics and inflections. "Show You the Way to Go" best captures the Philly sound, with a pretty melody and a great vocal from Michael, but it's a weak lyric. The Dexter Wansel-written and -produced "Keep on Dancing" matches a substandard discofied track to Michael Jackson's singular vocals. The last track, the graceful "Blues Away" marks the writing debut of the group and is a great match between artists and producers. For the most part, The Jacksons gives the guys by-the-numbers Philly tracks that could have been easily done by Lou Rawls. Despite the best songs, The Jacksons misses more than it hits.

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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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