Saturday, May 8, 2010

Forty Years Ago Today

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.


  1. Aw, beautiful Blog!

  2. you're the best K.T. i love reading your J5 childhood tales.


  3. Head shop! Aw, the '70s. That's such a sweet story--- boy, today with the internet everything so easy to track and buy, the kids have no idea what we went thru. Cracking open the cellophane and the smell of the album -- !! people don't get their senses thrilled like that anymore with CDs, just plastic, and so small! We could dive into those 12 x 12 album covers. Stare for hours as the vinyl went round and round. I guess, for ABC, the dust jacket didn't have all those pics and ads for J5 merchandise. I loved that too, and coveted their clothes. Damn! But even by 1974 the new albums still used that same dust sleeve ad for those early pics, I'd have thought they'd update 'em. I really wanted the stickers and stuff but thought my change would just get lost in the mail. Guess I had a defeatist attitude then, huh? So you didn't like Young Folks so much? Boy, Diana's version was truly awful, but Michael's coming on cool and militant on his version, and he "don't want no jive." Thanks for sparking all that out of me on this overcast Monday………. J5, ALWAYS a cure for the blues!

  4. Berry Gordy's such a narcissist, he even put his face into the collage on the back!

  5. Anonymous at 1:03: ABC had an earlier Motown product sleeve (orange and white) that had mail-order stuff for every major Motown star or group, like calendars, 8 x 10 photos and posters. I'll do a blog post about it in the near future, and show you what the actual stuff looked like. Same goes for the J5 product sleeve. I sent away for stuff once and never got it, probably because I sent cash in the mail.

    I like the J5's version of The Young Folks now, but when I was a kid, it was not one of my favorite songs by them. I much preferred the B-sides on their other early singles.

    Anon at 1:04: I love that picture of Berry, though, with the J5 reflected in his glasses. You can also find Randy, Janet and Katherine in that collage. And I love tiny Marlon looking like a Hollywood mogul in his pink-tinged photo. It almost looks as though he's talking on a cell phone.