Monday, January 17, 2011

Song of the Week: Darling Dear

by Corey Sheppard

From the very first time I heard this record on the Jackson 5ive cartoon in the mid 1990s, I loved it. I could tell it was something special, and couldn’t wait to hear it again. Ahh I have so many fond memories of singing this song in the mirror or humming the song in my head in elementary school. “Darling Dear” is truly serious jelly!!

“Darling Dear” was originally recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles for their 1969 for their album A Pocket Full of Miracles. If you have never heard their version before, I’d recommend that you check it out. It’s very good. It’s a lot different than the J5 version. The Miracles’ version has a bit jazzier, easy-listening vibe to it, while the J5 version is a bit more up-tempo utilizing the drums and the bass a bit more than the Miracles version. Ironically, the Miracles (like the Jackson 5) used "Darling Dear" as a b-side as well. It’s funny to me that neither group put this song as an a-side.

“Darling Dear” also has the fortune of being recorded in the original Hitsville studio on May 24, 1970 (wow, we even have the date it was recorded). It was on very few occasions that the boys would record in the Detroit studios, but according to several resources this record was indeed recorded in the Motor City. The track truly benefits from this. From the ever changing drums utilized through the entire recording, to the haunting string arrangement that builds the suspense in the recording. If you truly want to hear the strings in their total glory, listen to this remix that ended up on the Japanese release, Soul Source. The actual video doesn’t start till 0:07 but listen to the strings… breathtaking.

One thing I noticed about the record is at the very beginning at 0:01. You hear a sound in the record as if somebody just shot a ball on a pool table. It’s also heard again at 0:05. I always wondered what that sound is. Any of you guys ever notice that? For some reason, I love it and wouldn’t change a thing.

The bass playing on this track by legendary bassist James Jamerson Jr. is simply outstanding. From the beginning of the track to the very end, Jamerson lays out one complicated groove after another. Sometimes I can literally just listen to the bass playing in the track and totally be absorbed in it, isolating it from the complete recording. This track has reached thousands of music fans all over the world just by its classic bass playing. There are literally dozens of YouTube videos where bass players all around play their version of “Darling Dear.” I think that’s totally awesome. What a great way for Mr. Jamerson’s legacy to be continued because most view his playing on this track as one of the greatest bass sessions ever.

Michael (as always J) does an excellent job on his vocal performance but all of the Jackson brothers on background vocals sound excellent. Their harmony notes provided on the bridge of the song is outstanding. It gives the record a doo-wop flavor, while keeping it fresh for the new generation. One can clearly hear Jermaine providing ad-libs throughout the recording. Also Jackie has a brief solo on the song’s bridge that shows his vocal range as well.

The only slight criticisms I can give the record would be that number one, I wish the mix of the record was more bass heavy. The kick drum and bass on the record is really low, and one truly has to focus to hear some of the things these instruments are doing. I wish it were a bit louder; it would’ve created a more easy listening effect to it. And, of course, as with most J5 songs, I truly wish the song were longer -- 2:36 just doesn’t do it for me. It could have easily been over the 3:30 mark or beyond and not get dull. But I’ll take what I get.

Also there are a couple glitches in the record. At 0:51 it sounds as though the record is slightly distorted. Also at 2:02 and 2:07 it sounds as though they stuck two different takes together or something. I’m not sure, but every time I listen to the record in headphones I hear the mistake.

But other than those tiny, minor observations, it’s a flawless record. I really love it. What a great, unique way to close out the Third Album. This record truly gives you the ultimate example of what the Jackson 5 were trying to accomplish for that latter portion of 1970. I believe their goals were to continue creating catchy little ditties for the little ones and teenagers, while appealing to the adults and expert music critics of the time. And I say to that: job well done, Jackson 5!

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Corey Sheppard, 21, 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. Corey, I listened to "Darling Dear" a few more times after reading your great column, and wonder if those mysterious "pool ball" sounds at the beginning might actually be finger snaps.

  2. You're incredible, C, totally did that song justice with your piece. Yeah, I've always wondered about that edit around 2:02. Smokey's version becomes boring about halfway thru for me. Love the way they've rearranged the parts. Yep shouldda been way longer, like the long vers of "the Love I saw was a Mirage" was. But for some reason, "Mirage" was even edited down when they first released it on CD.

  3. I've gained a new appreciation for this song... thanks! :)

  4. @J5C this is a great conclusion! It could well possibly be. Whoever did the snaps I imagined were soooo close to the mic!

    and thanks Mary and anonymous for the sweet comments! And you're right, Smokey's does get a tad boring.

  5. If u dont have Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 - The Stripped Mixes, u need to pick that up. Darling Dear is very bass heavy on the Stripped Mixes. I like that version more than the finished mixed version

  6. I've listened to it Var, it's truly fantastic love it!!

  7. The man that played on Darling Dear was the great James Jamerson Sr. Jamerson Jr. is his son.