Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When in Detroit, You Better Shop Around

On my way home from Tampa today, I had just enough of a layover to stop at the Motown Music Review shop. Nestled between a Brookstone and a DTW in the middle of Terminal A, you can hear the classic Motown blasting from a moving sidewalk away.

I always make a stop there when I pass through Detroit, hoping they'll have some piece of newly minted J5 memorabilia. They never have had anything more than a few Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson compilation discs but, this time, I was hoping they might have added some J5 items since they had been featured in a special exhibit at the Motown Museum earlier this year.

No such luck. There was nothing for the J5 fan, not even the most current cds that have come out from Universal Motown in the past 18 months. In fact, unless you are a Diana Ross fan, there's not much at all beyond some generic stuff with the word Motown emblazoned on it. I'll admit it, though -- I couldn't resist the coasters that look like tiny vinyl LPs, reproductions of Diana Ross and the Supremes' Live at London's Talk of the Town. When I set my iced tea glass down on one of them, I'll just pretend the label reads Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jackie's Not So Bored

It may be old news by now, but apparently while J5Collector was on vacation, Jackie launched his own website -- finally -- at JackieJackson5.com

The site looks good, although his discography needs some work. So far as I know, "Love Don't Want to Leave" was never released anywhere as a single, and the scan they show above it is my own crummy black and white scan of the 45 "Thanks to You," released on the Brazilian label Tapecar. (Jackie, if you need research help, call me.)

On the more recent single front, Jackie has released a brand new song "We Know What's Going On" -- but only in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe, UK, and Japan. Sorry, U.S. fans. Guess it's payback time for not having that single release in 1973.

CORRECTION: Jackie's single saw an American release the week before. Glad to know he doesn't hold a grudge after all.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jackie's Bored

As promised, here is a scan of the centerfold poster from the January 1975 issue of Rock and Soul Songs. I've seen many other shots from this photo session, but not this particular pose. It probably would have been the best shot of the bunch if Jackie had kept his mouth shut.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Song of the Week: All I Do Is Think of You

Corey Sheppard by Corey Sheppard

On May 15, 1975 Motown Records released the latest Jackson 5 album entitled Moving Violation. The album went to Number 6 on the R&B album charts and Number 36 on the pop album charts. Not too bad for the brothers Jackson, who had been experiencing declining sales since 1972. The A-side of the single pulled from the LP was receiving some airplay in the new discos and dance floors around the world, but it was the B-side (a ballad written by Eddie Holland Jr. and Michael Lovesmith) that was getting the most attention from fans…. then and now.

“All Is Do Is Think of You” was released as the B-side of the boy’s disco Supremes cover “Forever Came Today” in June 10, 1975. This was actually the first time in three years that the Jackson 5 released a traditional ballad on either the A-side or B-side of their single. This record stood out from the rest of the album because it is the only true ballad that was presented on Moving Violation.

“All Is Do Is Think of You is clearly inspired by the sweet 70’s soul ballads by such artists as the Stylistics, Blue Magic and the Chi-Lites. Ballads were in at this time, and Motown clearly took notice of this. The Jackson 5 was originally accustomed to recording at least three ballads for each album they released for Motown in the beginning years. But starting in 1972, Motown went for a more bubblegum pop sound for the J5. This continued until around 1974 when songs like “If I Don’t Love You This Way” and “It All Begins and Ends with Love” starting appearing on the later Jackson 5 albums. Finally, the J5 had started recording songs that were more their forté.

Michael’s delivery on the song is excellent. Moving Violation is the only Jackson album recorded with Motown where you get a true sense of Michael’s adult vocal style. Atlhough he iss still a year or two from his singing voice being completely developed, his voice is in rare form on this track. His ad-libs at the end are terrific. This song was probably recorded right around the same time as “(You Were Made) Especially for Me” because Michael uses the same ad-lib line for both songs (“Day and Night/That’s all I do).” Listen for some early synthesizer keyboard playing on the verses as well.

The only minor issue I have with this song is the lyrics. There are two changes I would make to the lyrics if it were my song. First, I wish that the opening lyric of “All Is Do Is Think of You” (“I can’t wait to get to school each day“) hadn’t been used because I think that it puts too much emphasis on the fact that Michael was still a teenager. The boys weren’t young kids anymore, and I feel it was not necessary for that lyric to be put it to match the boys “main audience.”

But there is one part of this song makes me cringe every time. I’m sure you can guess what my answer will be!...... It’s Jermaine’s little spoken section on the bridge. “Girl, you’re so doggone fine.” Jermaine, that's so doggone awful! (although I’m sure it was the producer’s idea, not Jermaine’s). It doesn’t fit the seriousness of the track prior to it and makes the song sound slightly corny! Instead of focusing on Jermaine’s outdated rap, why not turn up the harmonies that the brothers are doing in the background.

The Jackson 5 performed this song a couple times on television shortly after Jermaine’s departure. It was Motown’s decision to have the boys continue to perform as the Jackson 5 and promote Moving Violation while they were in negotiations to leave the company. When the group appeared on Soul Train in 1975, they carefully lip-synched the tune with no brother covering Jermaine’s ad-libs.

But my favorite performance of “All Is Do Is Think of You” is when the boys (minus Jermaine, plus Randy) performed the song live on The Mike Douglas Show that same year. This live performance is incredible. Watching this performance is the prime example to me how much Michael and the brothers truly forgot about all of their problems while on stage. In the beginning the brothers (especially Michael) seemed a little uninspired and perhaps sad from Jermaine’s departure (note: his very lackluster spoken intro) but as every second of the record goes by they all forget about all the issues and troubles of their real life and give one heck of a performance.

With Michael‘s lead vocals, and Marlon, and Jackie’s excellent harmony background throughout the performance, it has remained one of my favorite TV appearances. I love Michael’s expression at the end of the extended chorus, and the ending should have been captured on the record as well. To be honest, I prefer this live version over the regular album version, mainly because I prefer the vocals and instrumentation on this performance over the studio recording and the significance of this performance means a lot to me.

The main melody is so extremely catchy and gorgeous that it is no wonder that this song has stood the test of time. It was first covered by group Troop in 1989 and they actually took the song to Number 1 on the R&B singles chart. Sixteen years later, Bad Boy Records’ youngest boy group B5 covered the song, as well, introducing it to a whole new generation. While these covers have maintained their popularity, I am very happy that the J5’s version is still accepted as the primary version of All I Do Is Think of You.”

“All I Do Is Think of You” is a beautiful, beautiful ballad that was never given a proper chance. I really feel that if the song received proper promotion from Motown, and A-side status on single, I feel it could’ve become a major R&B hit. But, in the end, it has become a classic, and classics never fade away. Once again, great songs never die, despite how long it took for the song to be heard.

- - - - - - -
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."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

When Michael Danced with David Bowie

One of my recent eBay purchases was the January 1975 issue of Rock 'n' Soul Songs, which I bought for the J5 centerfold (hey, you've got to get your mid '70s J5 photos from wherever you can!)

The centerfold is great -- watch this space for a scan in the near future -- but even better is a little half-page article about a party Tito and Dee Dee hosted for Al Green.

Among the star-studded guest list was glam-rocker David Bowie, who by the mid 1970s was enjoying some crossover success on the R&B charts. At first I thought this article was just another mildly interesting account of yet another party I would have liked to have attended but wasn't invited to, until I got to the last paragraph.

Michael and Al Green teaching David Bowie how to do the robot??? How I wish we had video footage of it! I guess we'll have to settle for Bowie's appearance later that year on Soul Train where he performed his hit, "Fame." It looks like he wants so much to break into the robot -- he definitely has the stiff dance moves for it -- but just can't bring himself to do it in front of the Soul Train Gang. But with their audible enthusiasm and encouragement, you'll see him, near the end of the performance at about 2:54, do one of the classic robot moves that Michael had perfected for "Dancing Machine" two years earlier.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back Soon

Hi, guys, sorry for the long unexplained absence. Nothing wrong here -- I've just been really, really busy between work and home with no time for fun. But I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and will be back soon with a real post. Looks like there is a lot to catch up on. Thanks for keeping the J5 spirit alive!