Monday, January 3, 2011

Pearls and Bad Apples

By the time the the Jackson 5's fifth single was released, it had already been available to fans for four months as an album cut on the Third Album. There were a couple of things Motown did to call attention to it as a single. First, they gave it the red vinyl treatment to make it stand out to radio disc jockeys.

The second was to issue the regular stock 45 with a picture sleeve, the first and only time Motown gave a Jackson 5 group single this kind of treatment in the United States. This inspired kids like me to buy the 45, even though I had the song, and the lovely cover of "Darling Dear" from the B-side, on my well-played Third Album LP. At that time, I wasn't a sophisticated enough listener to appreciate the superior mono mix; I could only appreciate the full-color glossy photo of The Five in their high-fashion finery.

The song got quite a bit of air play on U.S. radio stations in the early weeks of 1971 and it entered the Billboard Top 100 pop chart the last week in January. Although industry insiders used terms like "new smash hit," "the week's fastest mover," and "sure to be a million seller" when describing the single, it became the first J5 single not to reach Number 1, peaking a month later at Number 2.

Ironically, they were blocked from Number 1 by a song that had been written for them but had been rejected by Berry Gordy. Instead, it was given to the Osmonds, a family group who were striving to remake their image as pop stars, mainly by imitating the Jackson 5's sound. This was the beginning of the rivalry between the two groups that flared for the next few years.


  1. Wow. I didn't know this was the only time a picture sleeve was issued for them. Great info.

    I also didn't know that photo of the boys that was used in the sleeve is from 1970. Mike, marlon, and Jermaine look a older than I imagined.
    Song of the week coming soon btw !!

  2. Corey, I think that photo was probably part of the same session for the one that was used on Greatest Hits. Marlon and Jermaine are wearing the same clothes. And TcB! (which was issued in the fall of 1970) showed Jermaine and Michael trying on the clothes they are wearing in the photo above, and they also advertised a poster that showed them all wearing the same clothes as the Mama's Pearl sleeve. So I think they were probably taken in Sept or Oct 1970 at latest.

  3. Oot oot ta baby!!! They was robbed, shouldda been #1. DIRTY RECORD BUSINESS STOLE IT FROM OUR BOYS. Red-handed and misunderstanded.