Jackson Brothers Can’t Say Goodbye
Nearly 40 years after they exploded onto the music scene, the Jackson 5 are back with fresh music.
That's How Love Is, on sale today exclusively through iTunes, is the first single from I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters, a collection of 12 previously unavailable tracks recorded from 1969 to 1974 by the Michael Jackson-led band of brothers. The album, and the re-issued Jackson 5 Ultimate Christmas Album, hit stores Nov. 10 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble and Borders.
The songs were unearthed from Motown's vaults to celebrate the anniversary of the group, which released I Want You Back, the first in a long string of hits, on Oct. 7, 1969. In addition to the single (which can be heard free at jackson5.com), other songs include the Stevie Wonder collaboration Buttercup, a studio medley of I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save, an alternate version of Never Can Say Goodbye and an extended version of Dancing Machine.
Michael Davis, general manager of Universal Motown Enterprises, says the spotlight is on the adolescent Michael Jackson's remarkable voice, which was sometimes overlooked once he became a superstar.
"I can't think of anyone who at that age had such a command and feeling of voice," Davis says.
Deke Richards, a member of The Corporation, a collective of producer/songwriters that included Motown founder Berry Gordy and was responsible for most of the early Jackson 5 hits, agrees.
"When I first saw them, it was like I was looking at a 30-year-old person inside a 9-year-old body. I hadn't seen the moves on him since James Brown and Jackie Wilson."
That soulfulness shows up on versions of the Curtis Mayfield-written ballad Man's Temptation and the funky Bobby Taylor production Listen I'll Tell You How.
Richards says the Jackson 5 were so prolific that there is plenty more unreleased material. The band's sound rapidly evolved as the boys grew older, and songs became dated before they could be released. Richards and original engineer Russ Terrana helped research and mix the new album.
Davis says label executives were surprised when they found so much unheard music. "When the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975, there was like a five-album equivalent of unissued stuff released." He says that because of that, it was believed that everything worthwhile had been out before.
Jackson's death in June adds some poignancy to the recordings.
"It makes it sadder when you think that the world could have enjoyed a lot more Michael Jackson," Richards says. "We are going to miss him, but hopefully, we can fill in the blanks, and people can enjoy some great music he made."