JACKSON 5 : ‘Joyful Jukebox Music and Boogie’ (Label: Hip-O Select)

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JACKSON 5 : 'Joyful Jukebox Music and Boogie'

With rumours abounding in the press that the Jackson clan are planning to reunite for a farewell world tour and are on the verge of buying a property in deepest Devon, the belated UK release of this Hip-O Select twofer has an added significance perhaps. It goes back to a time in the mid-’70s when the Jacksons seemed a pretty ‘normal’ family group and their actions weren’t scrutinised in microscopic detail by the tabloid press – even Michael (now a figure of ridicule but who, back then, was yet to go under the plastic surgeon’s knife) seemed just a cute, skinny, high-voiced teenager armed with slick dance moves. Both these long-deleted Motown albums – which came out after the group jumped ship to Epic in 1975 – come to CD for the first time. Basically, both albums were sets of studio outtakes and the result of Motown trying to capitalise on the group’s newfound success at Epic – but listening to both sets now it’s apparent that even though they didn’t pass Motown’s strict quality control system back in the early ’70s (when they were recorded), both albums are stuffed with top-notch tracks rather than second-rate filler. ‘Joyful Jukebox Music’ was issued in 1976 though its material was cut in ’72/’73 around the time of the ‘Skywriter’ and ‘Get It Together’ sessions. Featuring production and writing input from the Mizell brothers (formerly part of The Corporation production team) and Hal Davis, its highlights include ‘Love Is The Thing You Need,’ ‘The Eternal Light,’ and a funky, Superfly-style version of Marvin Gaye’s oldie, ‘Pride & Joy.’ The second album on the twofer, ‘Boogie,’ was put out by Motown on their Natural Resources imprint in 1979, just as Michael was on the cusp of superstar greatness with his album ‘Off The Wall.’ It contained seven strong, previously unissued cuts – including covers of Chris Clark’s H-D-H penned ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ and Bobby Taylor’s ‘Oh I’ve Been Blessed’ – in addition to the group’s big hits ‘ABC,’ ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ and ‘Dancing Machine.’ An added bonus for J5 fans is the addition of a previously unreleased uncut version (14 minutes long) of ‘Hum Along And Dance.’ This limited edition CD originally came out in 2004 as a Stateside online-only release – now, though, thanks to Universal’s Import Music Services, it’s available through UK retailers for the first time. Get it while you still can….
(CW) 4/5