The Jackson 5 & Michael Jackson: An Audio Evolution

AllHipHop Staff

The impact of Michael Jackson on pop music cannot be overstated. Since the internet is being flooded with tributes and dedications, I figured that I would add my 2 cents in. These records capture each incarnation of Michael up until 1984, when he released his smash album Thriller, one of the best selling records of all-time.

I know that there are MANY records that I have left out and I realize there are many B-sides, album tracks, movie soundtracks, etc etc. As an avid record collector, I have come across tons of Jackson 5 singles, since they have sold hundreds of millions of them, so I decided to pluck out a few for your enjoyment. Mike was destined to be a Motown artist: The Jackson 5 were discovered by Gladys Knight and Bobby Taylor. The guys, as we know, hailed from Gary, Indiana. Before they were on Motown, they knocked around Gary honing their skills, first as Ripple & The Waves, then as Stars and Stripes featuring Michael, who was already a 7-year-old wiz. This is one of their first recordings, done prior to their associations with Motown. This is a double sided gem. The first side is called "You Don't Have To Be 21 (To Fall In Love).

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You can hear already that Joe Jackson had every intention on making sure his children sounded like adults, despite the fact that Michael cannot be any older than 9-years-old on this record. Flip it over and you get "Some Girls Want Me For Their Lover."

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What I like about this is you can hear this young man slick talking like he's an adult. And it's convincing. Even in this undiscovered gem, there is no denying that later groups like The Sylvers, Brighter Side of Darkness, New Edition, New Kids on The Block and countless others snagged their styles from the guys.

The Jackson 5 were introduced and subsequently signed to Motown after both Knight and Taylor witnessed them performing a rendition of “My Girl,” originally a hit for The Temptations, at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater, in 1967. In order to add some sizzle to their story, they concocted a story that Diana Ross found them, hence the title of their breakout album Diana Ross Presents: The Jackson 5, which was released in December of 1969. Taylor was repaid for his valuable discovery, as he produced most of the group’s debut album, which spawned the massive hit “I Want You Back.” Immediately the guys went to work, churning out records that would stand the test of time.

In 1970 the guys were in full swing. Here’s "Darling Dear," one of my favorites out of the three albums The Jackson 5 released that year alone (Their version of Smokey’s “The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage" is wicked too).

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If fans thought all The Jackson 5 were going to be releasing was “Bubble Gum Soul” like "ABC” [as Berry Gordy attempted to label it], they were pleasantly surprised again, with this adult-themed track, “Maria (You Were The Only Love),” which featured vocals arrangement by Willie Hutch.

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In 1971, the group was hitting its best stride in my opinion. This is when they dropped the Maybe Tomorrow album. Maybe Tomorrow is a great album, which contains the gut wrenching title track, which has put the author of this piece to his knees many times. It also contains the standout track “Never Can Say Goodbye.” In the year 1972, The Jackson 5 snuck this little B-Side in called “We’ve Got A Good Thing Going.”

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That record could very well by my favorite of the lot, but who can really decide this things, when they were also releasing B-sides like “Love Song” as well. video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player

You can hear Mike’s voice start to mature around this time period (1972-1974), when the group started to flounder a bit, due to Motown business. Also, both Michael and Jermaine started solo careers carefully crafted and executed by Motown. Around 1975, the group’s relationship with Motown was reaching the end, but the label was still releasing gem’s like this one, titled “Take Me Back.” from the album Forever Michael, which contains the scorching ballad “One Day In Your Life." 

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In 1976, The Jackson 5 left Motown, which legally retained the name The Jackson 5. The guys became The Jacksons, dropped Jermaine, added Randy and teamed with Gamble & Huff. Here’s “Good Times,” one of the best songs Michael Jackson and the guys ever released.

TWO BONUSES: Motown continued to release records by Michael Jackson, even after he was gone. In 1984, when Michael hit big with Thriller, the label released this double sided doozy: "Farewell My Summer Love." This is a great record that I listen to each "Farewell My Summer Love" as I reminisce about the summer loves that have come and gone in my life.

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Flip it over and you get “Call On Me,” which pulls my heart strings. I can only listen to this one at certain times, or the drunk dialing start and my Ex’s phone might start ringing. ;-)

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