Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Michael, Indeed!

Are you kidding me?! Amazon wants $409 for this multi cd set that includes re-releases of all of the Jackson 5 and Michael's solo LPs? I am so, so happy they didn't tempt me by putting a previously unreleased song on this set!

I Want You Back Live on American Bandstand

There are many things I like about the J5's first appearance on American Bandstand but I especially love the performance of "I Want You Back."  Their dance moves look well-practiced and close to perfect but the song was still relatively new, and they hadn't yet toured so they hadn't already performed it hundreds of times. A year later, they'd be rushing through the first verse and the chorus as part of a medley they would go on to perform in every concert -- and Michael would continue to perform the snippet in concert for the rest of his career. Complete live versions of "I Want You Back" are rare.

Here Michael sings the lead vocals live over his brothers' prerecorded vocals and instrumentation.  He can barely stand still enough in front of the microphone to get all the words out -- he so obviously wants to break into dancing (and those of us watching him would like him to, too).  He makes two rare mistakes. The first occurs at the :50 mark -- he sings "Those pretty faces always treat you" instead of  "Those pretty faces always made you."  No big deal, really, and a few seconds later he even appears to be laughing at himself.

The second mistake is more obvious and it occurs at the end of the song. It looks like Michael forgot that they had prerecorded an extended ending, and that he thought the song would end like it did when they first performed it a few months earlier on The Ed Sullivan Show. At 2:55, he looks momentarily startled that the music didn't end on his "I want you back!" but then he picks up and just keeps singing, giving us the most soulful conclusion ever to the song.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Your Game?

In the fall of 1974, Joe Jackson announced the formation of his own record label, Ivory Tower Records, and introduced his new act, four sisters named Maxine, Diane, LaVerne and Tina Willis who went by the stage name M-D-L-T Willis, or simply MDLT.  Joe first met the sisters when he saw them singing back up at Peggy Fleming's Ice Show in early 1973. He was impressed by their sound and was sure they would be the next big thing. In one of the few publicity photos that exists of the group, they are posing around Joe, looking like the old Ivory Tower himself.

The group recorded just one single, "What Your Game?" and it's of particular interest to J5 fans because it was written and produced by the Jackson 5 during a time in their careers when they were pressing Motown to let them perform their own material.  I wonder if the record itself was a ploy to prove to Berry Gordy that the Jackson 5 were ready to write and produce their own songs. 

MDLT toured briefly with the J5, performing this song and four others as part of an opening act for The Five. They even appeared on Soul Train with the J5, and they performed two songs: "What's Your Game?" and the single's b-side, "Runnin' and Pushin'" They immediately sank into obscurity, but if you  move quickly you can catch their act on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Know Just How You Feel, Kid

Actual caption: "I wish they'd play the Jackson 5 songs."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Michael's Secret Phone Calls

In May 1972 16 magazine promised to reveal some juicy secrets, gleaned from listening in on Michael and Jermaine's phone calls.

As usual, the teasers promised more than they delivered. First, we saw the banner headline on the cover, announcing:  MICHAEL JERMAINE Listen to Their Secret Phone Calls.

Right inside the front cover, we got another invitation, this time in the form of a full color glossy photo of  lovely Jermaine, asking the question: What do I talk about on the phone?

And in case you missed it, there was Michael inside the back cover, also in the form of a glossy color poster, begging us to turn to page 16 to find out his secrets:

By now, you're probably dying to know his secrets and surprises, right? But if you've read enough teen magazines, you probably think they're going to reveal their summer concert dates, don't you? Ah, but this is even better. In this case, it's not so much what Michael says on the phone as it is who he says it to. Read on.