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The Jacksons

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Editors’ Notes

The Jacksons’ first collaboration with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff heralded the second great phase in the development of America’s preeminent soul family. The Jackson 5 had been conceived and incubated by Motown, and there was no telling how a shift to a different label, with a completely different sound, would affect the brothers. Fortunately, Gamble and Huff were masters at working with vocal groups, and the Jackson’s 1976 album for Philadelphia International is not only a triumph for the brothers, but a high point of the Philly soul sound. Gamble and Huff’s lush, featherweight orchestrations turned out to be the ideal backdrop for Michael Jackson’s delicate voice. “Enjoy Yourself,” “Think Happy,” and “Style of Life” epitomize the label’s smooth, upbeat grooves, but the slower songs (“Good Times,” “Blues Away”) exhibit an even more seductive, fragile groove. The album’s centerpiece is “Show You the Way To Go,” a sublime fusion of Philly harmony, pure pop and disco that somehow retains a mysteriousness despite its catchy melodies.

Customer Reviews

Motown-Philly: The original

After 7 years of development and recording for Motown, Papa Joe negotiated a deal nearly 10 times the royalty rate of their contract at Motown for greener pastures at CBS Records. CBS was deep in reap of rewards from having Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff as in-house A&R with their Philadelphia International Records as an unofficial 3rd leg (Columbia & Epic being the others) of their ever growing empire. Gamble & Huff were charged with producing the Jacksons (as they were now called with Motown owning the Jackson Five moniker) first non-Motown recording. A daunting task as the Jacksons had seen only mild success since their string of number one hits sprinkled among their first 3 Motown recordings. Also daunting was the task considering their front man, Michael, was no longer “cute” and the boys were all men, save for newly acquired 15 year-old Randy, now officially taking Jermaine’s place. Yet another potential problem could be that the Jacksons had specific contractual stipulation with CBS of being able to write and produce themselves. None of these issues proved to be detrimental to The Jacksons, a blend of Motown cultivation chaperoned by the ever present Sigma Sounds, MFSB, and the dominant, trademark Gamble & Huff disco-soul music. Leading off with “Enjoy Yourself” the album, and subsequently chart action, take off immediately on an “everything’s gonna be alright” vibe. The lead single was an instant hit and single-handedly silenced any cynics doubting their post-Motown potential. Equipped with a new variety show (on CBS, of course) and a follow-up black chart success in “Show You The Way to Go,” the guys found a way of giving their own touch to Gamble & Huff, Dexter Wansel, and McFadden & Whithead’s signature ballads and club gems. Not to be confused with some Studio 54 disco factory, Gamble & Huff were always cognizant of having a "message in the music," The Jacksons side two began with the second single, “Show You the Way to Go,” a plea for unity specifically among African-Americans with lyrics like “we can help each other to overcome,” language not previously used in the Jackson catalogue. “Strength of One Man,” “Living Together,” as well as “Man of War” from Goin’ Places furthered the socially conscious themes giving the album much more heart and more weight than any previous Jackson recordings. Harkening to the fellow Philly Int'l powerhouses, The O’Jays, “Keep On Dancing” pulls a two-dimensional twist of deep funk groove and disco ditty ala "Livin' for the Weekend." "Find Me A Girl," from Places also seems to summon The O'Jays with the coveted "breakdown" Eddie and Walter made timeless. Also fresh in these recordings is Michael’s now fully matured and developed lead vocals. Not that he wasn’t fully capable of the lead role in the past, but the pubescent awkwardness that often plagued child and teen stars, Michael seems to have survived, if not transcended, and now even had a polished falsetto to boot showcased beautifully throughout Places. Jackson manages to lose the rasp of his teenage tone while knowing the proper grunts that overstate he is a man indeed capable of leading his brothers. The Jacksons’ contract clause paid off as well with Michael and Tito’s first pens “Blues Away” and “Style of Life" complimenting the veteran Philly Int’l team’s compositions on The Jacksons, while the group’s “Do What You Wanna” is perhaps the best up-tempo on Places. All single releases from both works featured the Jacksons' compositions as b-sides, giving Goin Places lead off single somewhat of a double A-side response. "Goin' Places/Do What You Wanna" pleasantly confused some fans as radio was spinning both-another testament to the Jacksons' composition being on par with the P.I. staff. And though the ballads of Goin' Places ultimately win out with Michael's emotionally acute lead vocals, the hope of what’s to come from the First Family remains bright with their new home away from home.

A New J5 Begining!

Despite what's written in the "Album Review" section, this was a great start for The Jacksons as a coming out Album. New label, new sound, and a new direction. Even though it was not a big chart topper it had it's share of hits. I for one played the heck out of this Album (Cassette Tape) on my "Walk Man". This Album is a must for your Jacksons/Jackson 5 collection. Although "Enjoy Yourself" was the biggest hit as far as the charts were concern, "Good Times", Show You The Way To Go" and "Strength Of One Man" were big songs in my community with lots of play at various house parties and some good air play on the urban stations.

Best Jacksons album period

The review left for this album makes it out to be that they lost their touch with this album. And if you ask me they proved that they dont need their old record label to put out the hits. This album was the first jacksons I bought and I was impressed with every song. I can listen to this all the way through without skipping any songs. Anyone who likes the 70's sound and michaels voice will love this album. I cant say enough good things about this one.


Formed: 1966 in Gary, IN

Genre: R&B/Soul

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

Jackie (b. Sigmund Esco Jackson, 4 May 1951, Gary, Indiana, USA), Tito (b. Toriano Adaryll Jackson, 15 October 1953, Gary, Indiana, USA), Marlon (b. Marlon David Jackson, 12 March 1957, Gary, Indiana, USA), Michael (b. Michael Joseph Jackson, 29 August 1958, Gary, Indiana, USA) and Randy Jackson (b. Steven Randall Jackson, 29 October 1962, Gary, Indiana, USA) changed their collective name from the Jackson Five to the Jacksons in March 1976, following their departure from Motown Records. At the same...
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