Sunday, August 8, 2010

Song of the Week: Can't Get Ready for Losing You

by Corey Sheppard

Various people have asked me throughout my lifetime of being a Jackson fan “What is your favorite Michael Jackson song” or “What is your favorite Jackson 5 record?” I, for one, find this virtually impossible to even narrow it down to five. I personally have favorite Jackson songs for all moods and emotions I’m feeling at each certain time. So when people usually ask me that famous question, I always use my famous cop-out, “There are too many songs to choose from!”

But there is something about this 1972 unreleased record that is soooo infectious and catchy, that I just can’t stop listening to it. I can say semi-confidently (J) that it is my favorite Jackson 5 song of all time. I’ve known the song and loved it for over a decade, but now I feel as though I have a much bigger appreciation and admiration for this cut.

Written by legendary songwriter Willie Hutch (co-writer of “I’ll Be There”) and his brother Richard Hutch, “Can’t Get Ready for You” is the ultimate J5 party jam. It has so much excitement and buildup right from the beginning opening notes that I find it totally shocking that this record was never released during the J5 heyday. I surely would’ve loved it if the track had gotten released as an album cut or, better yet, a single. It had all the potential to be a great release for the boys.

Judging by Michael’s vocal performance on this track, it sounds as though he recorded it sometime after “Lookin’ Through the Windows” in late-72 possibly around the time of the single “Corner of the Sky” (which was released months before the Skywriter album in October 1972). I truly love his voice here; he adds so much hype to the record. And the background vocals by the brothers are fantastic. They add a lot of flavor to the punch by using the famous call-and-response method on the chorus. And, to be honest, I am a little surprised that Jermaine didn’t sing a line or two on this record (maybe it was meant to be a MJ recording…who knows).

How a record with as much excitement and such catchy lyrics as this song could not get released on any Jackson 5 album is beyond me. I’m just so happy and appreciative that this gem finally saw the light of day in 1995 (when it was released on the outstanding Soulsation! box set). It adds so much excitement and anticipation to Soulsation! As the opening track on Disc 4. I remember when I was younger and I first received the Soulsation! set. I would constantly listen to the entire fourth “Rare and Unreleased” CD and I’d continue to repeat this particular number over and over again.

I have always felt that the “Rare and Unreleased” CD from the Soulsation! collection is truly amazing and is sometimes an overlooked collection. Most of the 19 cuts on the album are 100% unedited performances from the Jackson 5. Songs like “Everybody is a Star” and “I’m Glad It Rained” would have surely been edited to fit on to the Motown albums, so you truly get the entire vocal and instrumentation performances from the Jackson 5 and the Motown session players.

While the Jackson 5’s original version of this song remained unreleased until Soulsation!, Willie Hutch released a version of this record on his debut solo album for Motown entitled Fully Exposed. While I’m an admirer of Willie’s songwriting career and his singing, I’m not the biggest fan of his version of his own song. It seems like the record is missing the exciting, yet demanding lead of Michael, and the dynamite, live-house band sound of the 5ive’s original recording. But maybe one of the reasons that the J5 version wasn’t released was due to the fact it eventually was covered by Willie Hutch himself.

Next time you listen to “Can’t Get Ready for Losing You” I want you to listen in on the many things going on with the music. There is so much to listen for! Listen for the cowbell that was used throughout the verses (a percussion instrument rarely by the Five).Listen to the melodic strings that are mainly only on the second chorus. Listen to the second hook and notice the similarities between the drum pattern of that and “Lookin’ Through the Windows” at 2:17. Pay attention to the audio defect at 2:28 which lowers all the vocals from the brothers and pans their singing slightly to the left channel. Enjoy the jazz-band style horns at the very end of the song, where it leads you to the following track “You Ain’t Giving Me What I Want (So I’m Taking It All Back)” – I’ve always loved when old school songs fade into each other. Enjoy Michael’s exciting young lead throughout the entire track. And most of all listen to (what I feel) is one of the greatest openings/intros I’ve ever heard in soul music.

When I played this song for my musical partner, Robert, it literally knocked his socks off. He was in love with it from the get go and was upset with me for not playing the song for him any earlier. I count that as a victory because now he wants to hear everything pertaining to the Jackson 5. So this record has passed the ultimate test in my book. I’ve always truly love the song. But it wasn’t until very recently that I totally fully appreciated the song for its complete worth. What a great record by the boys, what a great record!

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Corey Sheppard, 20, has been a Jackson 5 fan since 1993. His favorite hobbies are listening to music, playing racquetball at the YMCA, and hanging out with friends. Corey’s life passion is centered on music. His latest project is an all-new production company shared with Robert White Jr. entitled "Ask About It Productions."


  1. I must confess that I have never been a big fan of this song, but you've given me reason to listen to it more closely, Corey!

  2. I hope you enjoy it more than ever J5C! I'm the same way you were. First I love it, now I LOVE IT! lol