Friday, June 18, 2010

Jackson 5ive Live at the Forum is a Double-Disc Success

by Christina Chaffin

When it comes to the Jackson 5, words such as “legendary,” “memorable” and “soulful” come to mind. These words traveled far throughout the years, describing Hip-O Select’s latest Motown release “Jackson 5ive Live at the Forum.” Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Michael and Marlon fed high energy to charged-up fans on both occasions, (June 20, 1970 and Aug. 26, 1972,) and the double-disc collection proves it.

Motown’s string of live performances is a treat for J5 fans of all ages, revealing hidden treasures along the way. One of those treasures unfolds at the beginning of “Who’s Lovin’ You” from 1970’s show, with an extra monologue from Michael. (If you ever wondered what kind of cookies he shared with that girl, they were Oreos.)

Another underground gem comes to light in the middle of “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin,” when the Jackson 5 harmonized their song “We Thank You.” Both songs performed together were exciting, but not surprising. (Video footage from a promotional film shows the group performing both tracks together.) The shocker kicks in after hearing the complete version of “We Thank You,” where the song is both dedicated to Diana Ross and includes her name in the chorus. Unlike Motown’s editing crew in the early 1970’s, Hip-O Select kept the full version of “We Thank You.”

This double-disc collection is the total package. Sure, the J5’s live version of “Stand,” is missed from the first show, but technical difficulties with audio are understandable. Also, it would have been refreshing to see a photo from either Forum appearance as the front cover of the release. But since “Mama’s Pearl ” from their 1971 show in Indianapolis makes the track listing, the cover is acceptable. Still, there are multiple reasons to keep listening – 38 to be exact. Full versions of “I Want You Back,” “ABC” and “The Love You Save” are reasons enough to keep enjoying to the ground-breaking performances.

By 1972, the Jackson 5 had a variety of television appearances under their belt, and their own Saturday morning cartoon, which is noted in the “Live at the Forum” booklet. At the same time, they were gearing up for several shows a week, in multiple cities. From the Forum, one of the exciting sounds from disc two is the medley, “I Want You Back/ABC/Mama’s Pearl.” That’s a J5 track-variety fans don’t hear every day.

In addition to the rare medley, the Jackson 5’s Simon & Garfunkel cover “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” from their 1970 album “Third Album” is soulfully executed by Jermaine. The performance itself is “pretty good,” but the fact that a live recording of the song made its way onto a Motown release is prodigious.

The “big introduction” expected by Michael on disc two is actually a feature by all of the brothers, with Tito and Marlon leading the way. (And in proper fashion, Marlon plays a “ham.”) “Jackie’s introduction” of the upcoming Michael-classics is actually Tito speaking.

For Jackson 5 fans, details matter, but with a collection like this, small errors are forgiven. This collection took time. Just glancing through the 23-page booklet shows a strong effort on Hip-O Select’s part. Take a look at the front cover of the booklet and feast your eyes on the Jackson 5’s 1970 tour program. The cover alone shows creativity. If the music and professionally packaged booklet aren’t enough, check out the postcards on the other side. The pictures are admirable, but aren’t nearly as cool as the facts featured on the back about each J5 member. It’s like reading Right On! magazine all over again.

With the help of Motown, Hip-O Select put together a powerful album of an extraordinary group – especially when performing live. Their 1970 appearance is raw with straight-up soul. In two years time, the group kept their charm, but enhanced their sound by throwing funk into the mix. Songs “Ain’t No Sunshine,” off Michael’s Got to Be There album, "You've Got a Friend"(a Carole King original), and the J5’s “Lookin' Through the Windows” holds enough funk to electrify fans to this day.

Motown’s Jackson 5ive Live at the Forum captures growth in their sound and maturity in their vocals. Above everything, it’s a package of that classic “J5 sound” fans remember, speak of, and love.

Christina Chaffin is a freelance writer from Dayton, Ohio, and a long-time Jackson 5 fan. She administers the Michael Jackson Vault.


  1. I know there's some argument over whether "Jackie's Introduction" is Jackie or Tito, but I think you're right -- it sounds like Tito to me.

    I love Marlon pretending like they're taking requests as they move through their established set list.

  2. I love that too J5C! I love Marlon on the second disc... Classic - everything is CLASSIC.

  3. I love that you can hear Marlon so well on both discs -- talking and singing. He was very talkative in 1972.

  4. I only heard of this disc through this blog & I love it! I wish MJ did more live concert albums.