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20 Feb 10:00

The Jacksons

by seanyokanemjj

The Jacksons is the first studio album by US music group The Jacksons for the record label Epic Records after leaving Motown , and the twelfth of their career (including the old unreleased album Joyful Jukebox Music under the name “Jackson 5” ), published on November 27, 1976.

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It was the group’s first studio album released by the joint venture Epic Records / Philadelphia International Records (PIR) , the first recorded with younger brother Randy and was at the same time also the first album released by the group under the name “The Jacksons “. [2]

In 2021 a new extended digital version was released with the complete album inside it with the addition of 4 bonus songs.

After a series of successful albums and singles with Motown, the label that launched them in 1969, the Jackson 5, pushed by their father and manager Joseph , decided to switch to CBS / Epic Records in 1976 (the deal with Motown expired on 10 March of the same year). As a matter of trademark rights, the brothers were forced to change their name to “The Jacksons”. They also had to give up their brother Jermaine , who was married to Berry Gordy ‘s daughter, the president of Motown, and had therefore decided to stay with the old record company. He was replaced by the youngest brother of all, Randy, who had already accompanied them on stage in the past, but who had not yet officially joined the group. [5]


The Jacksons portrayed in 1976 with the “J5” logo still behind them, which they soon could no longer use due to rights issues.
Epic had promised the brothers greater artistic freedom than Motown, as Motown would not let the Jackson brothers write and compose their songs, which was one of the reasons they decided to change labels. Epic kept its promise by allowing the Jacksons to participate together with the writing duo Gamble / Huff and other authors in the realization of all the songs and by releasing on the album two songs written and composed entirely by the brothers, including the first song written and composed by Michael Jackson that was ever released, Blues Away . [3] The other was the song that concluded the album, Style of Life , written by Titoand Michael. The duo Gamble and Huff also composed the piece Dreamer (“Dreamer”) with Michael in mind. [6]

The tracks
The album opens with the affirmations of positivity and independence from Enjoy Yourself and the energetic Think Happy , which has a soulful rhythm and gospel influences . He then moves into more nostalgic territory with Good Times , a soulful ballad about a man reflecting on the wonder of a past lover and the love they once had. Keep on Dancing has a funk groove that features a Moog bass synthesizer , arranged by Dexter Wansel, with Michael floating on the groove with some Stevie Wonder inflections in his vocal approach; the song then turns to disco music territory . We then move on to the sinuous ballad Blues Away , the first song written and composed by Michael Jackson, which centers on a young man who succumbs to sadness, feeling unable to deal with it completely. The jazz -sounding background of the song contrasts with the seemingly dark nature of its lyrics, giving the song a melancholy quality . The song also staged early examples of Michael’s percussive vocal approach, with his dramatic sobs and beatboxing , which would soon become his hallmarks. Follows Show You the Way to Go, a song that is often mistaken for a romantic song, when in reality it is an invitation to unity in the black community, as stated by its own authors. [7] Living Together and Strength of One Man , promote the feelings of brotherhood , peace and harmony while the last two songs of the album, the ethereal Dreamer and Style of Life , written by Michael and Tito, take up the themes of introspection and the romance of the first half of the album.

The album was a great success, peaking at # 6 on the Billboard Soul Album Chart and # 36 on the Billboard Overall Chart . The release single, Enjoy Yourself , peaked at number 6, remaining on the charts for 21 weeks, while the second single, Show You the Way to Go , was the band’s first and only one to reach number one on the UK charts . The album was the first in the group’s career to be certified Gold in the United States, as their previous record label, Motown, did not allow the RIAAto certify their albums until 1976. [3] The same happened with the single Enjoy Yourself , which was the group’s first single to receive Gold Disc certification. [11] [12] To promote the album, the Jacksons performed a series of concerts around the United States and made several television appearances on popular programs of the time such as The Freddie Prinze Show, The Sonny & Cher Show and The Mike Douglas Show . [7]

Jason Elias of AllMusic wrote that the duo Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff were chosen to ensure the success of the album, but added that “despite the promises, the album is hampered by derivative tracks and the lack of knowing what to do with the group, in particular with Michael Jackson »praising the latter’s interpretation of Enjoy Yourself which for the critic« perfectly captured Michael Jackson’s late adolescence , with his new vocal tics and inflections ». [13] Robert Christgau wrote that “Michael and his brothers are not powerful enough to rev up Gamble and Huff’s faltering music machine. Or is it vice versa? ” giving the album a C + rating. [14] The Rolling Stone Album Guide wrote that “Gamble and Huff’s broad groove has a leveling effect on their new dance sound” while praising Michael Jackson’s vocal interpretation in Show You the Way to Go which “envelops his deep twist. vocal and turns into a creamy and rich double-track chorus; singing in rings around him, Michael sounds like no one else in the world ».