Tuesday, July 21, 2009

M.J. Tribute - The J5 Years

So, I'm not sure if people are totally saturated with M.J.alia, but good tunes are good tunes and hopefully some of these will be new to some of you. I have a trio of posts coming in rapid succession that will begin with his early years with the Jackson Five. Michael was the star of the group from day one, but that doesn't mean he was always the lead-singer so I tried to pick out some songs that feature Michael on lead vocal duties, but some of these, like "Pride & Joy" is more of an ensemble performance, which is fitting as it was a rare Norman Whitfield produced/written number who was best known for his work with the Temptations.

I've tried to pick out some album cuts, a live cover/medley and a couple of selections from the motown vaults after the bros. left Soulsville, USA.

The Jackson Five - Ready Or Not (Here I Come)
Most people know this one because of the Fugees and I have to say its my favorite tune of theirs, but that doesn't mean the J5 version is no less definitive. The song was penned by Thom Bell and the Delfonics did the song first in 1969.

The Jackson Five - Walk On/The Love You Save (live)
This soundtrack/live album is a strange one with some real through away tracks (the title track for one), but the real money is in the live cover tunes they do (Sly, Dave Mason and Isaac Hayes on the above cut). Instead of doing a full version of "Walk On By" as interpreted by Ike the J5 just use it as a heavy and funky opening riff for their hit "The Love You Save". I guess that's why they didn't use the full name of the song and just "Walk On."

The Jackson Five - It's Your Thing
This cover tune was previously unreleased when the 1995 Soulsation box set came out. I got the single disc compilation (picture above) around when it came out and this was my go-to party joint.

The Jackson Five - Pride & Joy
Like I said above, this tune was written and produced by Norman Whitfield and his trademark sound is unmistakable from that opening drum roll. Not a truly classic J5 cut, but I can't help sharing the intersection of Whitfield and Michael.

The Jackson Five - Love Is The Thing You Need
Another cool cut from this Joyful Jukebox Music compilation is this great Mizell Bros. composition and production. One of the hidden secrets of Motown is the membership of the elusive "Corporation" that produced many J5 tunes. Its been said that Freddie Perren (a friend and frequent Mizell Bros. collaborator) and Fonce Mizell were active members of the corporation, but this cut is penned by both main Mizell bros. and showcases early elements of their trademark sound.

Next up, the Solo Years . . .

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