This was a really impressive album of enjoyable disco soul from The Jacksons. It was not as big as the album that followed it but it was confident, assured and most enjoyable. It is a top quality soul album of its day. Five of the nine songs were written by legendary Philadelphia pair Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, which pretty much guaranteed their class.
Even Though You're Gone has an increasingly mature-sounding Michael leading convincingly on a smooth piece of laid-back soul. Jump For Joy is pleasingly funky and rhythmic with more impressive vocal harmonies. This is simply uplifting, catchy fare and so typical of 1977. The Jacksons were a class act and they were building strongly on the solid Jackson 5 foundations. Tito takes lead vocals on the syrupy soul of Heaven Knows I Love You, which contains one of those very seventies spoken parts in the middle that now sound very cheesy but nobody minded at the time. He continues lead vocals on the sumptuous Man Of War. It is an anti-war song that suited the era. Do What You Wanna is another Jacksons-penned disco soul number that is lively enough and Find Me A Girl is a slow, romantic song to end on with some nice saxophone at the end. The disco soul numbers that largely appear in the first half of the album are my personal favourites.
This was The Jacksons most successful album thus far and it contains two of their best selling and well known singles. It was the first album that saw The Jacksons in complete control. Between them they wrote all the songs* and produced the album. An impressive job they did too.
The disco-funk vibe returns with the muscular groove of Things I Do For You. Michael introduces his high-pitched "wee-hoo" yelp here, something that he would continue to use for years after this. A song like this provided the foundations for much of the Off The Wall solo album from the following year. The second big hit was the irresistible Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) which is again one of the group's finest songs and is a fine example of disco soul of the era. The Jacksons were leading the way with quality tracks like this - commercial, poppy yet credible too. The song is included here in its full eight minute form, featuring an excellent funky clavinet-powered ending. Stevie Wonder would have been impressed by that, I'm sure.
Destiny is a nice, mid-pace soulful number with a convincing lead vocal from Michael. It is a reflective song as opposed to a romantic one or a groover. Jackson just wants "a simple life" and to be left "to be me". Small hints of future inner turmoil, probably. Bless His Soul features Jackie on lead vocals on a subtly brassy smooth soul song. All Night Dancin' is a superb, frantic unsurprisingly dance number, enhanced by some excellent rock style lead guitar. After the singles, it is the album's stand-out track. That's What You Get (For Being Polite) is a lyrically slightly cynical but sumptuously-backed soulful song to end with. Michael's Off The Wall came next and there were moire successful Jacksons albums, but this was possibly their best. Punk was all over the place in 1978, but in many ways, this was just as much the sound of the time, even for me. It was everywhere.
This was The Jacksons' best-selling album and was released in the wake of Michael Jackson's platinum-selling Off The Wall, As usual, he took most of the lead vocals so it was, to an extent, a Michael album with his brothers joining him. Personally I prefer Destiny to this one, being a more hooky album, but this was the one that really caught the public' s ear. I find it far less adventurous, though, and the sound is considerably inferior. It is a series of mainly upbeat, quite lengthy workouts that took the disco sound and merged it with a pop funk style that characterised both Michael and The Jacksons' work at the time.
Six tracks in finds the album's first syrupy ballad in Time Waits For No-One but disco funk soon returns on the infectious Walk Right Now, which is a typical Jacksons mover. At nearly six and a half minutes, it is quite lengthy. The ending percussion part is intoxicating. Michael is really in control here, soaring above the fast funk with all those now trademark vocal yelps and wails. Give It Up is a harmonious, chunky slow soulful number that has Marlon sharing lead vocals. Wondering Who has Jackie taking the lead on a really good track that features some searing electric guitar and some Earth, Wind & Fire-style vocals. It comes to a strangely abrupt end. For some reason, I have never been able to take to this album as much as to the previous three. Do not let that detract from it, though, it is a mature and accomplished piece of work.
This was the final Jacksons album, four years after 1980's Triumph and including Thriller-powered global mega-star Michael, talked back in to doing one last album with his five other brothers. It was the only Jacksons album to include all six brothers. It is very much an album of the mid-eighties and suffers accordingly due to all the programmed drums and keyboards. These are not really my thing and I find The Jacksons' seventies albums far more satisfying and authentic-sounding.
State Of Shock originally began life as a collaboration with Queen's Freddie Mercury, but it never really got going, so it was re-done with Mick Jagger. It is a thumping slice of synthesised eighties rock that would have sounded better in the seventies or nineties but within the context of this album is enjoyable enough. We Can Change The World isn't bad, actually. It is a vaguely Caribbean-sounding chugger with Tito on lead vocals. He wrote the song too. Lyrically, the title tells its story. I'm sure Michael loved it. The Hurt has a relatively appealing keyboard riff and Randy taking falsetto lead vocals, not very convincingly, I have to say. Michael would have done a better job, let's be honest, but they were probably quarrelling at the time. It still has a bit of appeal, though. The Soul Makossa-Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' groove of Body features Marlon on lead trying his best to be Michael, doing the vocal yelping thing. It is catchy, however. As I said at the beginning, it is the seventies material that I go for, this final one is actually pretty ordinary. That must not make us forget, though, that The Jackson5-Jacksons gave us fifteen years of phenomenal pop-soul-disco music. They were deservedly legendary.
This debut solo album from Michael's big brother was produced by Stevie Wonder and matches Off The Wall, in many ways, for me. Yes, it probably just comes up short, but only just. It has unfortunately slipped under many people's radar in their rush to proclaim Michael's 1979 offering as the second coming.
The album kicks off with the stonking eight minutes-plus extended version of Let's Get Serious, a great disco song that needs no introduction. It was a Stevie Wonder co-write, as indeed was Where Are You Now, which sees the mood get very late-night in Off The Wall Michael-ish fashion.
A distinct Michael vibe is there too on the excellent disco pop of You Got To Hurry Girl and the mood goes all smoochy again for We Can Put It Back Together before the old side two gets the extended disco groove on with the cookin' whistle-blowin' Burnin' Hot before we get the melodic strains of You're Supposed To Keep Your Love For Me - you can instantly tell that it is a Stevie Wonder song. We are back to the classy disco once more for the quality cut of Feelin' Free. As I said, a most underrated album.