My rating of the Jackson 5 and solo members albums

filmandmusic

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So this is something I had planned to do for a few years but it never happened. To make it happen I decided to make a thread out of it so that I get the impulse of actually doing it instead of just talking about it. I also hope to give each album enough spins so I can give it a fair rating. I will start from the beginning obviously with the Jackson 5’s debut album (Diana Ross presents… 1969) and I will end with Tito Jackson as he is so far the last Jackson that has had an album released (Under your spell 2021).

The rating system I plan to use is simple, I will give each song on each album a grade from A to D. So from superb track to awful track more or less. I will also attribute an overal grade to each album based on how good the grades of each song individually were to get a global feel of the album.
I will probably also comment here and there on a song when I especially like it or when I find some interesting additional info about it.

So to start here is the breakdown of studio albums I will eventually (hope) to give a rating.
-The Jackson(s) 5: 16 albums
-Jermaine Jackson: 14 albums
-Michael Jackson: 10 albums
-Jackie Jackson: 2 albums
-Tito Jackson: 2 albums
-Marlon Jackson: 1 album
-Randy Jackson: 1 album

CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

1) Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5
2) ABC
3) The Third Album
4) Christmas Album
5) Maybe Tomorrow
6) Got To Be There
7) Lookin Through The Windows
8) Jermaine
9) Ben
10) Skywriter
11) Music & Me
12) Come Into My Life
13) Get It Together
14) Jackie Jackson
15) Dancing Machine
16) Forever Michael
17) Moving Violation
18) My Name Is Jermaine
19) The Jacksons
20) Feel The Fire
21) Goin Places
22) Frontiers
23) Destiny
24) Off The Wall
25) Jermaine
26) Let's Get Serious
27) Triumph
28) I Like Your Style
29) Let Me Tickle Your Fancy
30) Thriller
31) Jermaine Jackson
32) Victory
33) Precious Moments
34) Baby Tonight
35) Bad
36) Randy & The Gypsies
37) Be The One
38) 2300 Jackson Street
39) Don't take It Personal
40) You Said
41) Dangerous
42) HIStory
43) Invincible
44) I Wish You L.O.V.E
45) Tito Time
46) Under Your Spell
 
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Fuzball

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You've forgotten Randy. He has released with his band "Randy & The Gypsys" a self-titled album in 1988 or 89. It's heavily Bryan Loren driven.
 

filmandmusic

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You've forgotten Randy. He has released with his band "Randy & The Gypsys" a self-titled album in 1988 or 89. It's heavily Bryan Loren driven.
Added.
What a family, so much musical talent!
Already a question that creeps up in my mind. Why is Jackie Jackson’s 1973 solo album completely forgotten? Both MJ and Jermaine had solo success but it seems Jackie didn’t even get the charts! His second album in 1989 did better but barely, at least it charted.
 

filmandmusic

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DIANA ROSS PRESENTS THE JACKSON 5 (recorded and released in 1969)
Overall rating A. Super album which only slows down in quality during the B side but it ends on a high. The bubblegum soul isn’t here yet that came on layer albums, this is a mature sounding album for a very young band. Reached nr 5 on the main chart and was nr 1 for 9 weeks on the black/urban charts.

1) Zip a Dee Doo Dah
Top class opening song, most funky production of the album. Performed during the first national tour in 1970, Michael on lead vocals, Tito’s heavy voice can be heard in flashes as well
RATING A

2) Nobody
Another super cool funky production with Michael alternating leads with Jermaine and a catchy group sung chorus
RATING A

3) I Want You Back
RATING A

4) Can You Remember
The first ballad, midtempo love song, super soulful performance by Mike and an incredible group sung chorus with Michael singing over it, wonderful strings arrangement.
RATING A

5) Standing in the Shadows of Love
Incredible duet between Mike and Jermaine, gutsy performance of Jermaine on the build ups to the chorus, Mike does the verses and they both alternate during the chorus. Michael opens the 2 verses with great deliverance “I wanna run”. For the second verse he opens with “ all alone”. Tremendous passion vocals. Super mid tempo soul track!
RATING A

6) You’ve Changed
The most poppy track yet with Mike on leads, love the vibe and vocals. This was actually an old song, they already recorded this for Steeltown but they updated it for Motown.
RATING A

7) My Cherie Amour
Jermaine on lead here for this Stevie Wonder ballad, not too fond if his vocals here, pretty much a solo song as I don’t hear the other brothers here
RATING C

8) Who’s Loving You
Mindblowing live or in the studio, this is the definite version of the often covered song
RATING A

9) Chained
Another vocally on point performance but the song and its chorus don’t stand out to me. Mike on lead. Jermaine pops during the end
RATING C

10) I Know I’m Losing You
Jermaine on lead, very fun track with a catchy chorus but I miss Mike’s vocals
RATING B

11) Stand
The opening song for their first tour in 1970, Michael, Marlon and Jermaine alternating on vocals, pretty dull song due to a forgettable chorus
RATING C

12) Born To Love You
Last minute inclusion on the album, replaced “reach out I’ll be there”. Michael alternating again with Jermaine, very catchy sweet song with some great horns during the chorus
RATING A
 
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Gaz

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Hi FilmAndMusic, this thread needs to be moved to 2300 Jackson St in case you was wondering where it was.
 

filmandmusic

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ABC (recorded 1969/1970, released 1970)
A classic in every way. The heavyweights are all in the middle as the album fizzles out slowly during the last 3 tracks. The feeling is that Mike had even more vocals than on the first album, though Jermaine still has his share. Reached nr 4 on the main chart and 12 weeks nr 1 on the black/urban chart.
Overall rating A

1) The Love You Save
RATING B

2) One More Chance
Catchy sing a long ballad but not overly special
RATING B

3) ABC
RATING A

4) 2-4-6-8
Michael's vocals are very crisp here and the group sung chorus is glorious. This song later featured very briefly in the film "Moonwalker"
RATING A

5) (Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need
Michael is preaching! Outstanding performance. It feels like he knows these songs he covers through and through, they're often just a tad more intense vocally.
RATING A

6) Don't Know Why I Love You
What I said earlier comes true here again. Imo he blows Stevie's version away. Michael is pleading for love and it gives me goosebumps as it build and builds into a crescendo , superb vocals. Part of the 1970 setlist too!
RATING A

7)Never Had a Dream Come True
Another Stevie cover, his version is lazy and dreamy like a Sunday afternoon, The J5's version is more energetic and lively, both are fabulous.
RATING A

8)True Love Can Be beautiful
Love the chorus, the harmonies are always superb.
RATING A

9) La La (Means I Love You)
Delfonics cover and Mike slays it vocally, absolute adore this, passion and guts! Hair raising performance...
RATING A

10) I'll Bet You
A funky group effort, everybody has his lines but it doesn't do much for me
RATING C

11) I Found That Girl
Jermaine lead song, pretty catchy, also a live song during the first tour, Michael only on backgrounds.
RATING B

12) The Young Folks
A bit of an attempt at a youth anthem I guess, pretty cool lyrics but not super catchy in the melody department "here we come and we're so alive". That was a true statement!
RATING B
 
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zinniabooklover

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DIANA ROSS PRESENTS THE JACKSON 5 (recorded and released in 1969)
Overall rating A. Super album which only slows down in quality during the B side but it ends on a high. The bubblegum soul isn’t here yet that came on layer albums, this is a mature sounding album for a very young band. Reached nr 5 on the charts.

11) Stand
The opening song for their first tour in 1970, Michael, Marlon and Jermaine alternating on vocals, pretty dull song due to a forgettable chorus

RATING C
🙁

Aww, only a C rating. Fair enough. I'm not keen on the J5 cover versions (with a few exceptions) but I do like this one. Not as much as the Sly and the Family Stone original version, of course, that is awesome. Although I do agree the chorus is the weakest part of the song, whichever version you listen to. But the J5 version is pretty good.
 

83magic

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ABC (recorded 1969/1970, released 1970)
A classic in every way. The heavyweights are all in the middle as the album fizzles out slowly during the last 3 tracks. The feeling is that Mike had even more vocals than on the first album, though Jermaine still has his share. Reached nr 4 on the charts.
Overall rating A

1) The Love You Save
RATING B

2) One More Chance
Catchy sing a long ballad but not overly special
RATING B

3) ABC
RATING A

4) 2-4-6-8
Michael's vocals are very crisp here and the group sung chorus is glorious. This song later featured very briefly in the film "Moonwalker"
RATING A

5) (Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need
Michael is preaching! Outstanding performance. It feels like he knows these songs he covers through and through, they're often just a tad more intense vocally.
RATING A

6) Don't Know Why I Love You
What I said earlier comes true here again. Imo he blows Stevie's version away. Michael is pleading for love and it gives me goosebumps as it build and builds into a crescendo , superb vocals. Part of the 1970 setlist too!
RATING A

7)Never Had a Dream Come True
Another Stevie cover, his version is lazy and dreamy like a Sunday afternoon, The J5's version is more energetic and lively, both are fabulous.
RATING A

8)True Love Can Be beautiful
Love the chorus, the harmonies are always superb.
RATING A

9) La La (Means I Love You)
Delfonics cover and Mike slays it vocally, absolute adore this, passion and guts! Hair raising performance...
RATING A

10) I'll Bet You
A funky group effort, everybody has his lines but it doesn't do much for me
RATING C

11) I Found That Girl
Jermaine lead song, pretty catchy, also a live song during the first tour, Michael only on backgrounds.
RATING B

12) The Young Folks
A bit of an attempt at a youth anthem I guess, pretty cool lyrics but not super catchy in the melody department "here we come and we're so alive". That was a true statement!
RATING B
I love the Jackson 5’s brand of ‘bubble-gum soul’💜 it gave them an identity that was uniquely theirs, and is still associated with their style. it made them stand out from the other elder artists on Motown, and in general. many other acts since then have tried to follow that formula.

their songs were vibrant, colourful, and heavy on melody. with ‘abc’ being a prime example (and one of my personal favourites💜) short and sweet confections that left the listener craving more.

despite some questionable lyrics (‘mama’s pearl’), those type of songs were more appropriate for their ages. Michael specifically. I prefer the original songs to covers.

I think their singles run between ‘I want you back’ and ‘looking through the windows’ was practically flawless. I would even throw in michael’s solo singles between ‘got to be there’ and ‘Ben’. I listen to a compilation album titled ‘the very best of Michael Jackson with the Jackson 5’ quite a lot. it’s a uk release from 1995. I love discovering unreleased songs from the time period of 69-72. I’m not usually into studio albums, but if I had to choose just one from the Jackson 5, it would be ‘abc’. I even love the album cover 💜
 

filmandmusic

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THE THIRD ALBUM (recorded and released 1970)
Stellar continuation for the J5, like ABC this is very much a group effort and their most poppy sounding album yet. Reached nr 4 in the US. Overall rating B

1) I'll Be There
Unbelievably good ballad, my favorite part for once doesn't come from Michael but Jackie (his final "holding on" and how he bends that note during the chorus) background harmonies are so so beautiful! Jermaine on chorus duties but the harmonies steal the show.
RATING A

2) Ready Or Not (here I come)
Sung By Michael, original Delfonics. Piano driven competent cover.
RATING B

3) Oh How Happy
Lead vocals by Jermaine with Mike providing some background chops, It works well. Tito's background monotone mumbling is slightly irritating though, he does this on more tracks this album unfortunately
RATING B

4) Bridge Over Troubled Water
Unfortunate song for Jermaine to sing IMO, he is vocally not good enough for this song, this screams for Michael. This also marks the second song in a row to have Jermaine as lead singer which is definitely rare! Part of the early setlist.
RATING C

5) Can I See You in the Morning
A cool dreamy production with Michael delivering crispy clear vocals, lacking a real chorus or hook but it is kind of oddly bewitching. Tito offers some more boring vocal bits, luckily it is over fast
RATING B

6) Goin Back To Indiana
The J5 doing rock n roll, it got a good drive and became somewhat of a cult song for the band, part of the setlist. I personally would have put the guitar more clearly in the mix but it is minor nitpicking.
RATING B

7) How Funky Is Your Chicken
The funkiest track of the bunch with Michael singing the chorus, Jermaine and Jackie the verses, Tito almost ruins it in the background.
RATING B

8) Mama's Pearl
Following the hit template of the earlier singles, peaking at nr 2 for I believe 2 weeks behind their rivals the Osmonds' "one bad apple" which sounds like a Jackson 5 song itself.
RATING B

9) Reach In
Jermaine and group sung verses with Michael providing the chorus. Motivational lyrics which I'm not too fond of but Jackie is providing a fantastically sung bridge here, I also love the background chanting/wailing.
RATING B

10) The Love I saw In You Was Just A Mirage
Ballad, Michael killing it yet again on vocals, love his phrasing so much, great lyrics, originally by the Miracles
RATING A

11) Darling Dear
Maybe the best track on the album, another ballad with an awesome bass sound and lovely lyrics, Mike on lead, also part of the setlist.
Should have been a lead single really "don't be shy or love will pass you by" truer lyrics don't exist
RATING A
 
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zinniabooklover

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THE THIRD ALBUM (recorded and released 1970)
Stellar continuation for the J5, like ABC this is very much a group effort and their most poppy sounding album yet. Reached nr 4 in the US. Overall rating B

1) I'll Be There
Unbelievably good ballad, my favorite part for once doesn't come from Michael but Jackie (his final "holding on" and how he bends that note during the chorus) background harmonies are so so beautiful! Jermaine on chorus duties but the harmonies steal the show.
RATING A
Jackie's vocals on this are superb. The best part of the song, his performance here makes this song, imo. When he's singing his part I want to freeze time and just hold it there. He's that good.
 

filmandmusic

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CHRISTMAS ALBUM (recorded and released 1970)
Remarkably the 4th studio album in the span of 1,5 years. It was nr 1 for 4 weeks on the Christmas chart and would probably have been the 4th straight top 10 album had it been eligible for charting in the regular album chart.
I was reluctant to hear this, it was the only J5 album I never heard it before, I'm not a Christmas kind of guy...
I however enjoyed it greatly and so does the world as it is the J5's most popular album on Spotify, each track has well over 3 million streams, their only album to do so. 2 tracks even have over 100 million streams...
Overall rating A

1) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Jermaine lead vocals, excellently produced ballad, beautifully performed, a shift in tempo gets all the brothers singing along in the end
RATING A

2) Santa Clause Is Coming To Town
Holiday season favorite judging by its streams, personally never heard it on the radio, uptempo track with Michael on leads
RATING B

3) The Christmas Song
Second lead vocals by Jermaine, another ballad and well done
RATING B

4) Up On The Housetop
A very fun reworking of an old tune, lyrics specifically written for the J5. References to Tito's guitar, Marlon's dancing shoes (he is always dancing) and Michael wanting lots of toys but above all love and peace for everyone, what else really, Michael never left his innocent child spirit behind and this song shows just that. Uptempo with Mike on leads
RATING A

5) Frosty The Snowman
The first true group effort of the album with everyone having some lines, Tito's are the worst as usual. Love the ending when Mike goes ad libbing chanting frosty the snowman
RATING B

6) Little Drummer Boy
Love the military marching beat, since I know nothing of Christmas songs I don't know if the other versions are the same. Mike on leads and he sounds inspiring as usual, the brothers add some African style vocal chops in the background, really cool track.
RATING A

7) Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Another group effort with Jermaine singing chorus, fun
RATING B

8) Christmas Won't Be The Same This Year
Jermaine lead uptempo heartbreaker with the gang singing the chorus in sweet harmony
RATING B

9) Give Love On Christmas Day
Mike singing this ballad and it is a lovely one, frequent harmonies chiming in pre chorus and in chorus
RATING A

10) Someday At Christmas
Mike and Jermaine singing lead, nice again what's there to say it are all Christmas themed tracks lol
RATING B

11) I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause
The second 100 million streams song on the album, Mike singing lead on this mid tempo charmer. Vocally one of his best performances, his final note is really long and the longest one I heard him do!
RATING A

PS a bunch of these tracks were played once in concert in December 1972 as part of a special Christmas concert, very rare and at least the audio should be released some day imo...
This marks the end of 1970, the brothers were on top of the black album chart for a total of a mind-blowing 31 weeks plus 4 weeks on the Christmas chart. Add to that the 4 nr 1 singles and you can clearly speak of a mania...
 
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MAYBE TOMORROW (recorded 1970/71 released April 1971)
The fifth album in a span of 2 years give or take. After this the release schedule got to more normal rates. There would also be focus from now on on Michael and Jermaine's solo careers. Motown milked the band dry in no time.
They were also already touring for their second national tour since January and it would last till August. Child labour!
This album again became a critical and commercial success reaching nr 11 on the main chart and it was 6 weeks nr 1 on the black/urban album chart, meaning they now got 5 consecutive nr 1 albums on that chart.
Overall rating B

1) Maybe Tomorrow
Heartbreak ballad sung by Michael and one of their best, part of the setlist on the tour. Their first single to miss top 10 but still quite a big hit regardless
RATING A

2) She's good
Jermaine ballad, very laid back vibe, a bit weak on chorus but good song nonetheless
RATING B

3) Never Can Say Goodbye
Mike on lead, live staple and a true world class song, arguably more known in the disco version of Gloria Gaynor but this is the original track. Michael kills it, live it usually got a different arrangement.
RATING A

4) The Wall
Uptempo troubled love song with Michael on lead, catchy chorus including handclaps and the brothers harmonizing on the background
RATING B

5) Petals
Another uptempo troubled love song about a girl who can't make up her mind. Mike again on lead, thematically quite similar to the wall but this has more childish lyrics
RATING C

6) Sixteen Candles
Time for Jermaine on leads, kind of an old school rock n roll ballad, a love song naturally. Not feeling the chorus at all.
RATING C

7) We've Got (Blue Skies)
Mike's golden vocals, there is a weird sounding instrument especially prominent in the beginning, quite oddly structured as well but I like it.
RATING B

8) My Little Baby
Catchy uptempo duet with Mike and Jermaine, guess what it's a love song
RATING B

9) It's Great To Be Here
Mike on leads with harmonizing going on during chorus, another love song this time mid tempo. For some reason this track has 10 times more streams than the other (album) tracks on this album. Perhaps it was a live track back in the day but I don't know.
RATING B

10) Honey Chile
Opening with an harmonica and then it is Michael time, Mike adopts a very weird accent halfway through during a little spoken interval, pretty skippable track imo
RATING C

11) I Will Find A Way
And we're ending with Jermaine on leads and quite comfortably the most boring track on the album, it feels like Jermaine is sleepwalking through the chorus.
RATING D

This is one of the lesser albums so far, usually there are a bunch of fantastic album tracks next to the singles but these are absent here. I still give it a narrow B but there's a bunch of skip moments here and that for me is a first.
 

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GOT TO BE THERE (recorded 1971 released 1972)
Motown pulled out all the stops for Mike's first solo album, they carefully picked 10 fantastic tracks for Michael to showcase his beautiful intense vocals and it payed off as the album became a commercial and critical success. Reaching nr 14 in the main chart and nr 3 in the black/urban chart (his first record that didn't hit nr 1) which might sound a tad disappointing but it had legs as it went gold and no less than 4 tracks became big hit singles.

1) Ain't No Sunshine
This Bill Withers evergreen got a beautiful rendition by Michael but it especially shines in the epic live rendition he did on tour.
RATING A

2) I Wanna Be Where You Are
A fan favorite live track but also pretty good on record but I prefer it live, it was on the setlist throughout the 70s. It's also been sampled and covered numerous times over the years.
RATING B

3) Girl Don't Take Your Love From Me
An incredible soulful performance, superb track!
RATING A

4) In Our Small World
Such an MJ track, it's like a little brother of heal the world, super sweet song, lyrics are completely beautiful. It's also fun on this album to hear Mike harmonizing with other people than his brothers
RATING A

5) Got To Be There
Incredible optimistic track which totally fits Michael a live track throughout the setlist and he belts out his vocals here in an incredible way,
RATING A

6) Rockin Robin
A silly track for sure but there is so much charm in the way Mike sings it and live it so much fun to listen to.
RATING B

7) Wings Of My Love
Great string section, great theme, a song for empathic people, uplifting the way Michael always has been uplifting.
RATING A

8) Maria (You Were The Only One)
This track screams for a live performance and I hope hope hope this was once part of a setlist. The way this song slowly build and builds into an uptempo crescendo is fantastic, Michael passionately killing it. In an album full of highlights this is my showstopper!
RATING A

9) Love Is Here And Now You're Gone
Only the third uptempo track on this album, Mike has always been the best at ballads and the Motown heads realized this well. This is the least special track on the album but still fun
RATING B

10) You've Got A Friend
Carole King evergreen made immortal by James Taylor but Mike's version is fantastic just as well, part of the setlist back then (more uptempo than ballad) and it has got this really laid back awesome vibe, it is great!
RATING A

This album is near perfection...
 

zinniabooklover

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Man, you are cracking on with these! I guess you just can't wait to get to the LaToya albums, huh?
 

filmandmusic

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LOOKIN THROUGH THE WINDOWS (recorded 71/72, released 72)
Another top 10 album in the main chart peaking at nr 7 and nr 3 in the black/urban chart. The album spawned 3 hit singles. Doctor my eyes was a UK top 10 and the title track and little bitty pretty one were both stellar top 20 singles in the US. The title track was also a top 10 hit un the UK.
When you read band biographies, the narrative is always that the J5 couldn't sustain their 1970 success and that is only partly right. They continued to score hits that crossed over to the pop charts throughout the 70s. Scoring a run of top 20 hits was by no means a small feat for a black band.
I can only think of the Supremes that had a more impressive chart run in the pop charts.
Overall rating B

1) Ain't nothing like the real thing
Marvin Gaye cover, well done
RATING B

2) Lookin Through The Windows
Nice song with a catchy uptempo chorus and slow verses
RATING A

3) Don't Let Your Baby Catch You
Michael's warning to not cheat on your girlfriend because it ruins all lol, cute
RATING B

4) To Know
Good relaxing r&b ballad, lines for everybody but mainly Michael
RATING A

5) Doctor My Eyes
Jackson Browne cover, nicely done
RATING B

6) Little Bitty Pretty One
Bobby Day cover, great song to dance and sing a long too, more of a group effort
RATING B

7) E-Ne-Me-Ne-Mi-Ne-Moe
This feels very similar to I want you back with a somewhat borrowed guitar riff. Jermaine/Michael duet
RATING B

8) If I Have To Move A Mountain
A troubled love tune, very well written and a great Michael delivery, great chrous
RATING B

9) Don't Want To See Tomorrow
Michael shouts something in Spanish, kind of bland uptempo love song. There are some nice horns in there but they don't stand out enough in the mix
RATING C

10) Children Of The Light
Bland, weak chorus. Mike's voice on the verses is bittersweet but not enough to save the song
RATING C

11) I Can Only Give You Love
Immediately sets a nice pace with the percussion. Very catchy chorus
RATING B
 

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5) Petals
Another uptempo troubled love song about a girl who can't make up her mind. Mike again on lead, thematically quite similar to the wall but this has more childish lyrics
RATING C
how could you do Petals like this?!?! 😭😭😭
 

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GOT TO BE THERE (recorded 1971 released 1972)
Motown pulled out all the stops for Mike's first solo album, they carefully picked 10 fantastic tracks for Michael to showcase his beautiful intense vocals and it payed off as the album became a commercial and critical success. Reaching nr 14 in the main chart and nr 3 in the black/urban chart (his first record that didn't hit nr 1) which might sound a tad disappointing but it had legs as it went gold and no less than 4 tracks became big hit singles.

1) Ain't No Sunshine
This Bill Withers evergreen got a beautiful rendition by Michael but it especially shines in the epic live rendition he did on tour.
RATING A

2) I Wanna Be Where You Are
A fan favorite live track but also pretty good on record but I prefer it live, it was on the setlist throughout the 70s. It's also been sampled and covered numerous times over the years.
RATING B

3) Girl Don't Take Your Love From Me
An incredible soulful performance, superb track!
RATING A

4) In Our Small World
Such an MJ track, it's like a little brother of heal the world, super sweet song, lyrics are completely beautiful. It's also fun on this album to hear Mike harmonizing with other people than his brothers
RATING A

5) Got To Be There
Incredible optimistic track which totally fits Michael a live track throughout the setlist and he belts out his vocals here in an incredible way,
RATING A

6) Rockin Robin
A silly track for sure but there is so much charm in the way Mike sings it and live it so much fun to listen to.
RATING B

7) Wings Of My Love
Great string section, great theme, a song for empathic people, uplifting the way Michael always has been uplifting.
RATING A

8) Maria (You Were The Only One)
This track screams for a live performance and I hope hope hope this was once part of a setlist. The way this song slowly build and builds into an uptempo crescendo is fantastic, Michael passionately killing it. In an album full of highlights this is my showstopper!
RATING A

9) Love Is Here And Now You're Gone
Only the third uptempo track on this album, Mike has always been the best at ballads and the Motown heads realized this well. This is the least special track on the album but still fun
RATING B

10) You've Got A Friend
Carole King evergreen made immortal by James Taylor but Mike's version is fantastic just as well, part of the setlist back then (more uptempo than ballad) and it has got this really laid back awesome vibe, it is great!
RATING A

This album is near perfection...
I agree with this thoroughly, except for the fact that they are all As, especially "I Wanna Be Where You Are" which is an A+ ;)

No, seriously. I appreciate the time and thought that you're putting into these.
 

filmandmusic

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BEN (recorded 71/72, released 1972)
Another grand success with the album reaching nrs 4 and 5 respectively on the pop and r&b charts. I rate it below "got to be there" but still significantly better than the output of the J5 during this period (around 1971/73). It seems to me for Mike's solo work there was a bit more care in selecting songs by Motown
Overall rating A

1) Ben
RATING A

2) Greatest Show On Earth
This feels similar to Lookin through the windows during it's uptempo chorus but it's not as good as that track
RATING B

3) People Make The World Go Round
Mike singing adult themed songs like a boss
RATING B

4) We've Got A Good Thing Going
This is perfect as an opening song during you wedding, the lyrics are perfect, love the lazy careless vibe of the song.
RATING A

5) Everybody's Somebody's Fool
Lyrically it is either cynical or realistic depending on the type of person you are, adore the background vocalists contribution but Mike himself delivers one of his best vocals in another adult themed song
RATING A

6) My Girl
This song was in Michael's repertoire since the mid 60s, they performed this at various talent shows before they signed for Steeltown. I believe they also recorded a version for Steeltown.
RATING B

7) What Goes Around Comes Around
Another song for the experienced in life, cynical maybe, beautiful certainly
RATING B

8) In Our Small Way
Now I never understood this inclusion, world class song but it was on the debut album. It is a waste, maybe an unfortunate never corrected mistake?
RATING A

9) Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day
Stevie Wonder cover not very remarkable until the last minute or so when it turns funky and Michael good ad libbing. Some breathing feels similar to later songs like "get on the floor". I think Michael got some freedom here to do stuff he likes doing
RATING B

10) You Can Cry On My Shoulder
I'm sure lots of girls wanted to do just that ;-)
RATING B
 

filmandmusic

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how could you do Petals like this?!?! 😭😭😭
Yeah maybe a B is more correct, it is a very playful fast paced track but I generally prefer young MJ a tempo down. Still thematically the same as “the wall” and that is a bit more mature with a better chorus.
Truthfully I haven’t heard a bad track yet when Michael is on leads, his energy transforms each song.
 

staywild23

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Yeah maybe a B is more correct, it is a very playful fast paced track but I generally prefer young MJ a tempo down. Still thematically the same as “the wall” and that is a bit more mature with a better chorus.
Truthfully I haven’t heard a bad track yet when Michael is on leads, his energy transforms each song.
I can live with a B (if I must). It's one of my favorite songs on the album though, tbh. I just find it so sweet and fun and endearing. But I agree with you, nothing with Michael on lead can be bad. He's just too amazing.

I feel bad saying this, because Jermaine is very talented. But I barely ever listen to tracks he is the lead on. I just don't find they hold me. They hold me the way other similar music holds me. like, I recognize the talent and it's fine to listen to those songs, but when I have the option of Michael....like, why would I ever? lol I feel bad saying that because I often think how it must have been hard for Jermaine to go from being lead singer to Michael taking over, especially when he was much younger. But I feel how I feel lol.
 

filmandmusic

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SKYWRITER (recorded 72/73, released 1973)
This album was the first flop of the band and thus the first signal that change was needed. Michael and co also didn't like the direction Motown took them in so I guess they didn't really like the album themselves. It reached only nr 44 in the pop charts and nr 15 in the black charts, their first album (solo or band) to miss the top in an important chart. The 3 singles were the least successful yet but still reaching top 40.
I personally don't understand the bands criticism as I believe this is their best album since ABC. It deals seemingly with more mature themes instead of only love and it is refreshing.

1) Skywriter
The title track has a really catchy chorus and some sort of a psychedelic vibe with some vocal effects especially during the outro. It was also a live track on their world tour.
RATING A

2) Hallelujah Day
This a happy celebratory song dealing with what I guess is the homecoming of the American troops from Vietnam which happened around the same period as this albums release. Performed live on tour.
RATING B

3) The Boogie Man
I don't get the lyrical content of this song but it is catchy and driven by a really funky piano riff. Who is the boogie man is it some sort of hidden message about unsafe sex? I don't know, I'm probably thinking too far.
RATING B

4) Touch
A cover of a Supremes song and by far the sexiest and most sensual song the band recorded, I wonder what Katherine thought of this. It is a duet between Jermaine and Michael. I really love it it is a side we didn't see explored yet.
RATING A

5) Corner Of The Sky
A song for misfits who feel they don't belong anywhere, the premise is to not give up and keep believing, I guess I will take the advise. I really love the Jermaine/Marlon/Michael sung chorus. This is a very nice group effort overall with everyone chipping in with some lines. Another track that got into their setlist at the time.
RATING B

6) I Can't Quit Your Love
A funky pop song with a very catchy melody. They performed this live for their Jacksons tv show
RATING B

7) Uppermost
A troubled love song with some funky percussion and flourishes of electric guitar and a nice string arrangement. Love this track especially during it outro which I would have let run a bit longer
RATING A

8) World Of Sunshine
A group effort with Michael only audible slightly in the background, this however doesn't matter to me as the track is very fun positive track, sounds like something from the hippy era. It would also work as the intro for some tv show or something.
RATING A

9) Ooh I'd Love To Be With You
Another track I adore, just another love song with Jermaine and Mike alternating lines. "just me and you what a lovely way to spend my time" such a nice chorus. Musically relaxing vibes.
RATING A

10) You Made Me What I am
Unfortunately the album ends on a low. I don't feel this track, the chorus gets on my nerves despite Michael being the lead vocalist
RATING D
 

filmandmusic

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MUSIC AND ME (recorded 72/73, released 73)
If Skywriter was a flop then this was a disaster. The album barely cracked the top 100 at nr 92, it even failed to make a dent in the black album chart at nr 24. The songs didn't cross over to the pop charts either. When Skywriter marked the beginning of the end this album is the end when speaking of an era of chart success
Musically though it is another home run, the quality didn't diminish it was probably the promotion and general interest that waned. After all the market was oversaturated with Jackson from 1972 till now.

1) With A Child's Heart
One of Mike's finest Motown tracks and a cover of his friend Stevie. I think lyrically this is how Michael approached his adult problems otherwise I can't see how he survived all of the bullshit for so long. Part of his setlist.
RATING A

2) Up Again
A love song, a ballad, nice track, maybe a bit repetitive during its outro
RATING B

3) All The Things You Are
A serenade for someone special, typical Motown solo song for Michael and very good. Bittersweet lyrics.
RATING B

4) Happy
A mainstay in his setlist for years to come, a cover of Smokey Robinson. Well written track but I prefer the original and Michael's live renditions.
RATING B

5) Too Young
My favorite of the album or close to. Michael's vocals are intimate and strong when needed. The strings arrangement gives major Disney film vibes. Magical song with awesome lyrics.
RATING A

6) Doggin Around
Mike goes rock n roll which I love because usually it was Jermaine doing these type of songs. it is a Jackie Wilson song. Love the chorus and Mike's deliverance
RATING A

7) Euphoria
The weakest of the bunch and one of my least liked tracks in his repertoire
RATING D

8) Morning Glow
Another ballad which I love though I'm not as big a fan of morning as Michael here. Maybe I should use it as a wake up call.
RATING A

9) Johnny Raven
I don't get this song, who is Johnny Raven supposed to be? So random... Not liking it much either
RATING C

10) Music and Me
Made immortal for a lot of fans with its inclusion on Moonwalker. The opening guitar sets the stage for goosebumps galore. The swelling strings later on and the horns during the chorus almost make these goosebumps pop. It is a very dangerous song for my health. Performed live numerous times in 1973.
RATING A
 

filmandmusic

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GET IT TOGETHER (recorded 72/73, released 73)
The J5's commercial success continues to drop with this album reaching nr 100, it was somewhat saved by the massive success of dancing machine though. It fared a lot better in the black/urban chart at nr 4. This also marks the end of an era as the band now takes the direction of funk with mixed success.
Overall rating B

1) Get It Together
Very funky opening track and super fun as well, especially live this track thrives and it was a mainstay throughout the 70s on tour. Dancing in this is fantastic
RATING A

2) Don't Say Goodbye Again
MJ being desperate and in heartbreaking mode. Very good performance.
RATING B

3) Reflections
Supremes cover and I have no idea what it is doing here, doesn't ft the album, feels like something that belongs on the third album or so
RATING C

4) Hum Along And Dance
Really strong opening minutes but then it starts to bore as it aimlessly extends to 8 minutes. There are no lyrics here. This was in the setlist and coupled with the dancing I am sure this was a sight to see but on record this is not good enough.
RATING C

5) Mama, I Got A Brand New Thing (Don't Say No)
Another long track which doesn't really convince, also part of their setlist and like the former track probably fun on stage but not so much here, Maybe I just miss Michael's voice too much but melodically it isn't all that great either.
RATING C

6) It's Too Late To Change The Time
The album's best track and often referred to as the start of Michael's growth to adulthood as a singer. I personally find that a bit overstated but the song is very good. Also done live numerous times.
RATING A

7) You Need Love Like I Do (Don't You)
This is the companion to dancing machine as they both float beautifully into one another. One of the better tracks here, also performed live a couple of times, the flashes I've seen of that were sublime.
RATING B

8) Dancing Machine
RATING A
 

zinniabooklover

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3) Reflections
Supremes cover and I have no idea what it is doing here, doesn't ft the album, feels like something that belongs on the third album or so
RATING C
Ooh, that was grim. Hadn't heard that before. Great song but definitely a bad fit for J5. 🙁
 

filmandmusic

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DANCING MACHINE (recorded 73/74, released 74)
Thanks to the lead single the J5 enjoyed a short burst of chart excellence here. The album did well reaching nr 16 and its 3 singles were all top 40 hits. It also streamlined the funk sound compared to GIT. This is an excellent dance album, maybe even their best I have to think about it, hard decisions!

1) I Am Love
A long track that starts as a ballad and keeps building up to become a dance number. Jermaine takes the lead vocals as Michael only shows up during the end. But nevertheless this is a great track and quite a big hit back then. A live staple during their mid 70s concerts.
RATING A

2) Whatever You Got I Want
Real funky, awesome rhythm. Mike's vocals are soulful and raw at the same time.
RATING A

3) She's A Rhythm Child
Keeping up the funk with a raunchy Tito line thrown in during the chorus, not sure who does the hush "sexy" part. Love the outro
RATING A

4) Dancing Machine
Like in our small way unfortunate that they reused this song but that stop it from being a classic
RATING A

5) The Life Of The Party
Very uptempo song, part of the setlist. Some great harmony work, not a super track but fun nonetheless
RATING B

6) What You Don't Know
I remember some interview where Michael stated he loved this track, it was also played live a couple of times and it is really fun and danceable. It could have been a big hit in the right time. It is from what I remember one of the first tracks where Mike harmonies with himself during the chorus making it pretty much a solo track. Super production, love it. My favorite track here.
RATING A

7) If I Don't Love You This way
First ballad and it is deserved after all the dancing. Mike's voice sound a bit younger suddenly, quite weird. I love the song though, great production, very rich and dense sounding, underrated
RATING A

8) It All Begins And Ends With Love
A group sung ballad, it is special as even Tito has a complete verse of his own an the isn't ruining it. Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael all have a verse and there's lots of harmonies going on. I think it is quite lovely overall
RATING B

9) The Mirror Of My Mind
Back to the funk and ending a great note. Jermaine has the lion's share of vocals but Michael chops in as well with the very short chorus. The outro is really cool
RATING A
 

83magic

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euphoria’ is not only my favourite song on ‘music & me’, but one of my favourite young Michael songs ever. it was whimsy, wise, and had a wide eyed innocence about it - just like Michael himself. the writers did a great job of tailoring the song to his unique sensibilities. it was an original non ballad. a true standout. the vocals are out of this world. much like ‘looking through the windows’, the multiple transitions tie together neatly. could have been a single, and a hit. I can imagine this being performed on soul train, with Michael in his colourful splendour 💜 most of the others were either before his time, or completely inappropriate.

which brings me to touch from ‘skywriter’. Michael in particular had no business singing that - especially at that age. it’s actually queasy.
 

filmandmusic

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euphoria’ is not only my favourite song on ‘music & me’, but one of my favourite young Michael songs ever. it was whimsy, wise, and had a wide eyed innocence about it - just like Michael himself. the writers did a great job of tailoring the song to his unique sensibilities. it was an original non ballad. a true standout. the vocals are out of this world. much like ‘looking through the windows’, the multiple transitions tie together neatly. could have been a single, and a hit. I can imagine this being performed on soul train, with Michael in his colourful splendour 💜
I was thinking about you when writing this because I knew you loved euphoria. I'm one of the least critical fans imaginable imo and yet I can't get into it, I really dislike the chorus, the way the emphasis is on euPHOria I don't like it.
most of the others were either before his time, or completely inappropriate.
I still am puzzled about you. Somehow, I see you as the most critical fan on this forum yet the way you write about Michael you completely love him as an artist. With the criteria you give here I'd say about 60% of the Motown catalogue is not for you. I also never saw you like anything post thriller. I do understand your point of view but if I had the same opinions as you on Michael's music I would not be able to call myself a fan because it seems like you dislike the majority of his music.

Please don't feel offended, I'm not looking for a confrontation, my opinion is not better of worse than yours but I find it so fascinating.
 

83magic

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I was thinking about you when writing this because I knew you loved euphoria. I'm one of the least critical fans imaginable imo and yet I can't get into it, I really dislike the chorus, the way the emphasis is on euPHOria I don't like it.

I still am puzzled about you. Somehow, I see you as the most critical fan on this forum yet the way you write about Michael you completely love him as an artist. With the criteria you give here I'd say about 60% of the Motown catalogue is not for you. I also never saw you like anything post thriller. I do understand your point of view but if I had the same opinions as you on Michael's music I would not be able to call myself a fan because it seems like you dislike the majority of his music.

Please don't feel offended, I'm not looking for a confrontation, my opinion is not better of worse than yours but I find it so fascinating.
euphoria’ actually has two choruses. another example of interesting songwriting. I’ve never come across anyone who liked that song other than myself (or ‘going places’ for that matter)..

lyrics mean a lot to me. in fact, I think it’s the main reason other than melody to write a song in the first place. I just find it incredibly disturbing that such inappropriate and in some cases, immoral material would be given to a child to sing. some I can overlook. others are glaringly obvious.

I also find it depressing to hear young Michael singing dreary ballads that he clearly lacked the life experience for. ones that portrayed him as an ‘old soul’. I prefer original songs that were created specifically for him to relate to.

I can’t control the way that I am perceived. I can only hope to articulate myself as clearly and honestly as possible.

I don’t see myself as a big critic at all. on the contrary, I find that I spend more time discussing what I like, rather than what dislike. I would definitely describe myself as analytical.

Michael is my favourite artist/entertainer ever. I’ve felt this way since I was three years old. basically my whole life. barely a day goes by where I don’t watch/listen to him.

I always believed I was a fan, but apparently I no longer fit the ever changing criteria according to the community. my opinions are simply unpopular and fail to line up with the majority. Michael literally left a lifetime of work behind. there’s plenty for me to immerse myself in - despite my ‘limitations’. I am beyond satisfied. I can never get bored of him.

hope that clears everything up.
 

filmandmusic

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I always believed I was a fan, but apparently I no longer fit the ever changing criteria according to the community.
I specifically asked you to not take this personal. 😕

But reading back on my post it reads kind of harsh and that was not my intention. So sorry about that, I never questioned you as a true fan and I love reading your posts and opinion about Michael’s music because simply enough I often agree ( regarding his best vocal years and his overall best phase in his career). I have liked so many of your posts…
Thank you for your further explanation, it makes perfect sense even if I don’t necessarily agree.
 
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