On May 8, 1970, the Jackson 5's second album, ABC, was released to stores. Correction: it was released to all stores except the one in my neighborhood. It was a head shop called Elysian Fields about ten blocks from my house.
Every day I would trek there to see if the new Jackson 5 album was in yet and for excruciating weeks on end, it wasn't there. It got to the point where I would just walk in the door and the hippy at the counter would say, "It's not here yet." And I would make the long walk home, dejected. In retrospect, I don't know why I didn't just phone them to ask, or have my parents drive me downtown, but I was a dumb kid who didn't think of stuff like that. I'd just go home and play my "ABC" 45, over and over. Sometimes I'd flip it over and play the B-side, "The Young Folks," the J5's cover version of a Diana Ross and the Supremes song that I didn't like as much.
Finally, one day when I walked in, my hippy friend cried out with joy, "It's here!" I could see it from across the room -- a bright blue cover with the Jackson 5 themselves wrapped around gigantic colorful letters that spelled "ABC." The price sticker on it read $3.88, and with tax it came to $4.00. (All the LPs in this store cost $3.88, probably so that the stoned cashier wouldn't have to make change.) I plopped down my four dollars and rushed home to listen to it. I tore off the cellophane wrapping and breathed in the smell of new vinyl as I warmed up my crappy little portable record player. A few seconds after the needle dropped, I heard the opening notes of "The Love You Save" for the first time, and loved the song immediately. I would play it over and over in the weeks to come, trying to catch all the lyrics. In the meantime, I soaked in the sounds of great songs like "2-4-6-8," "One More Chance," "La-La Means I Love You" and (be still my heart!) "I Found That Girl."
And, best of all, while I listened to these amazing new songs, I could pore over the photo collage on the back of the LP. In May 1970, this collage alone had more photos of the Jackson 5 in one place than I had ever seen. I never got tired of looking at it.
To this day, I feel a little thrill when I see the cover of ABC -- maybe because I had to wait so long to see it for the first time.