Thursday, January 13, 2011

Face-Off: Young Michael or Teenaged (and beyond) Michael?

Doug: So I'm driving the other day, with the iTouch plugged into the stereo system, and I come across a few Jackson 5 songs. I'm struck by the difference in style between Michael Jackson's vocals on their first hits, when his voice was powerful and straightforward, and his voice on their later hits when he segued into the style he'd use during his solo career. I'm talking about all of the hiccups, "oohs!", and even the crotch grabs (yeah, I'm hearing the song, but seeing them just goes along with the audio). So which era of the Jacksons do you prefer? For reference, I've divided their hits by Michael's age, first from the time he was 11, the second list after he'd turned 15.

Their first hits (1969-74)

I Want You Back

The Love You Save

I'll Be There

Never Can Say Good-bye
Dancing Machine

Their later hits (1974-1984)

Blame It On the Boogie

Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)

Can You Feel It

State of Shock
(w/ Mick Jagger)


david_b said...

Let me start off by saying, 'I love good showmanship'.. Nice polish, good, clear production (not grunge audio, etc..), charming presentation. The Osmonds and Jackson 5 always excelled in this in late 60s/early 70s, and it showed. It took a LOT of exhaustive work and nearly always paid off, so the dues were paid indeed.

I loved their pop hits in the early 70s, very well done. I saw Michaels first solo excursion 'Off the Wall' as an exquisite and very important step for him (and his brothers) to maintain their relevance (and vibrancy) during the waning disco era, by inspiring the brothers to use the same approach, etc..

Quincy Jones was/is the master of Pop recordings and Michael could NOT have been in better hands. Glad that the McCartneys were interested in pitching a song ("Girlfriend"), which intiated a relationship ultimately proving sour for Paul's bankbook.. "Off the Wall" is a very rich and enjoyable album, quintessential Michael.

I initially enjoyed "Thriller", which clearly matured Michael's confidence on several fronts. Unfortunately, due to extreme industry overplay, it's hard to even listen to nowadays. Any later releases, I only peripherally heard the tracks that got airplay/hoopla and didn't hold any spark for me.

So, indicative or not, 'Off the Wall' is the only CD of his I currently own.

Bungalow Bull said...

I'm not sure if this shows my age or what, but I only recognize one of the song titles in the later hits, but all of the ones from the earlier ones. So, I'll have to go with the early stuff.

Doug said...

BB --

The cut with Mick Jagger was forgettable. The song "Torture" was off the Victory album. I had it on cassette. While that cut was somewhat of a hit, I recall the attention surrounding the so-called Victory Tour, as the Jackson's played Comiskey Park in Chicago -- lots of hype ahead of that!

Thanks for the comment!

And David -- great thoughts! Thanks for the passion in your comment.


Karen said...

I thought Off The Wall was much better than Thriller, but then, I usually go against the current.


J.A. Morris said...

The early songs are better, and Karen's right, 'Off The Wall' is better than 'Thriller'(which is good but overplayed).
'State Of Shock' is painful.

david_b said...

"Off the Wall" had more of a charming 'eager-to-please' feeling, "Thriller" suffered from a bit too much polish.

As for "State of Shock", I can't help but imagine there was a video of both Jagger and Jacko mugging it up for the camera, much like Jagger and Bowie did for 'Dancing in the Street' video remake for LiveAid. There wasn't one made, but the track just screams 'VIDEO'.

I actually liked the song, as Jagger and Tina Turner did an awesome job with it at LiveAid, embarrassing Keith Richards and Ronnie trying to accompany Bob Dylan on accoustic guitars.

Anonymous said...

My favorite period is from probably mid 70's to 80, taking in the "Dancing Machine" era of the Motown years, all the way to the Off The Wall album (my favorite of MJ's solo efforts) and stopping at the Jacksons' live album. I started listening to the Jackson 5 at their earliest time and it's still fun to go back and hear, but that middle period, before all the fame and insanity started, was really his peak creative period for me.


Related Posts with Thumbnails