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The Essential Jacksons

The Jacksons

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Album Review

The first thing to realize about Epic/Legacy's The Essential Jacksons is that it's a collection of the Jacksons, not the Jackson 5. Which means that none of the group's hits for Motown in the early '70s are here — it's everything that came afterward, when the group signed to Epic/Philadelphia International (soon to be just Epic) and changed its name to the Jacksons. In other words, it's their disco and funk material, highlighted by the singles "Enjoy Yourself," "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," "Lovely One," "This Place Hotel," "Can You Feel It," and the post-Thriller hit duet with Mick Jagger, "State of Shock." While this material may not be as irresistible or timeless as the Motown material — nor is it as transcendent as Michael Jackson's solo album Off the Wall, which was done in this style, only better — the best of the singles ("Shake Your Body" and "Can You Feel It" in particular) stand among the group's best work, and this is the best way to hear it. After all, prior to this collection in 2004, there was no good CD-era compilation of the Jacksons' late-'70s/early-'80s recordings, and this fills that absence very well, containing all the charting hits, usually in their full-length album versions. As an overview of this often-overlooked era in the Jacksons and Michael Jackson's career, this is first-rate.

Customer Reviews

An Amazing Time Capsule of Music

I rediscovered this collection while my iPod was on random play. The Jackson's late 70s work created a fusion of R&B and disco that is far less dated than most music of this period. Add to that beautiful harmonies and the joy in Michael's voice, this collection moves ones feet and recalls a era before drum machines and synthesizers drained the life and soul from dance music. AWESOME!

Dancing With the Stars

I just heard Blame It on the Boogie on Dancing With the Stars and went straight to iTunes to buy it. I forgot how much I LOVE this song... Great Album!!!

Gone, but never forgotten

Now that Michael has passed into the Great Beyond (hopefully a better place for him), it's time to revisit some of his lesser known, middle-period music. "Enjoy Yourself" is an undeniably catchy tune with a quirky chorus that demands the subject to enjoy (her)self. "Show You the Way to Go" features an almost mournful guitar hook gives the song a sense of gravity as Michael asks to be allowed to guide the listener. "Blame It On the Boogie," "Shake Your Body," "Lovely One" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" are all cut from the same danceable cloth, while "This Place Hotel," "Can You Feel It" and "Walk Right Now" are more serious affairs with "Hotel" foreshadowing the siren theme of later MJ songs "Billie Jean" and "Dirty Diana." The throwaways here are "Goin' Places" and "Find Me a Girl." The MJ-MJ (Mick Jagger) collaboration "State of Shock" isn't terrible, and its rough guitar licks sound like a sped-up version of Dirty Diana. With 11 true essentials on a 14-song album, "The Essential Jacksons" is aptly named.

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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