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.


  1. Great blog post!
    I never knew the story about how Joe discovered them.
    I believe 'what's your game' was a way to show Motown that the brothers really did know how to produce, write and compose.
    Thank you!

  2. Song's decent, especially for the era, but man o man these four young women have terrible stage presence and minimal talent. I see why the disappeared! Even the J-5 songwriting can't save them.

  3. I forgot to mention that the sisters were from Ashtabula, Ohio.

  4. Hi, I thought they were a bit better on the second song but otherwise I would agree with anonymous, they didn't really have the professionalism the J5 had.
    Do you know if the J5 also wrote and produced the second song? because I actually preferred it to the first honestly.
    Great to have you back J5Collector! :D

  5. No, they didn't write or produce the second song. It was written by Wally Cox and Pat Brown, and produced by Wally Cox.