All of my first-time sightings of new J5 LPs were in the store where I bought the record, with one exception: the Christmas Album. Until I saw it I didn't even know it existed, so I didn't know to haunt the store for it.
I was in 8th grade Gym class, of all places, when I first laid my eyes on the Jackson 5 Christmas Album. A girl I didn't know very well named Paula Brown had it. Why she brought it with her to Gym class -- and into the gymnasium itself, as opposed to the locker room -- is beyond me. But there I was, waiting to start my jumping jacks when I noticed a group of girls gathered around a bright orange-gold LP. I didn't think much about it until I heard one of them say "Look at Tito!" and then I had to barge my way into the crowd for a look. Could it be? Oh, my God, it was!
A new Jackson 5 album! And a Christmas album! And just look at how adorable they all are, each one looking like the gift tag on a shiny Christmas present, all tied up with a big red bow. Have you ever seen a more handsome group? And, indeed, look at Tito -- he's smiling! I believe it was the first photo I'd ever seen of him when he was smiling. It was also the first time we got to see their signatures. For some reason, this was a big deal to us. Proof, perhaps, that we finally had their correct names, with the correct spellings. We studied those signatures. I have an uppercase T in my name, and I copied the way Tito made his initial T for years, and my best friend and fellow J5 fanatic, Janet, adopted Jermaine's J.
Paula let me hold her LP so I could turn it over to read the track listing. I recognized most of the songs, and even knew all the words to many of them, so I couldn't wait to hear how the Jackson 5 would sing them.
I was even willing to forgive Motown for the boring back LP cover. It was, after all, what was on the vinyl that mattered.