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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Music Retrospective - Michael Jackson's Albums Pre-Off The Wall

Remember when I said I was done with looking at Michael Jackson’s albums? Well, I… exaggerated. I started to think about his other solo albums he did before Off The Wall. He actually did four solo albums with Motown while he was also singing with his brothers. Some of the songs are original stuff while some are covers of songs. I don’t even think my sister owns them, so listening to them on my iPod would be pretty hard. Instead of skipping them entirely, I’m just going to briefly talk about them. I was able to listen to them on YouTube and as of now, they’re still there if you want to take a listen.

Got To Be There
Got To Be There was released in 1972. Four singles were released from the album. It was your standard music with some groovin’ songs to dance to. It feels like an extension of the Jackson 5. It feels like that because I can hear his brothers backing him up in some songs. Some of the songs are originals while others are covers from other artists. The most notable covers are “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers, “You’ve Got A Friend” by Carole King (and not James Taylor who I thought originally wrote it), and “Rockin’ Robin” by Bobby Day.

Overall, I liked this album. It’s not one of my favorites in general, but it might be my favorite from these early albums. You get to here Michael on his own for the first time (sort of). My favorite songs from the album were “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” and “Rockin’ Robin.” No offense to Mr. Withers, but I think I like this version over his. It’s weird to say that, but it’s rare that a cover sounds a little cooler than the original. Check this album out if you want to hear some early solo action from Jackson.

Ben
Jackson’s next solo outing was Ben and it was also released in 1972. Dang, that dude had a busy life even at that time. I know I couldn’t do it especially at that age. This album is more of the same like his previous album. Some songs are originals while some are covers. The most notable cover on here is “My Girl” by the Temptations. I have to say I actually like the original version better but this rendition is alright. We also get a holdover from the last album. “In Our Small Way” was also on the album for some reason. I don’t get the reason why since it’s an alright song.

I like the album but it’s not my favorite. In fact, it might be my least favorite of the four. While there are some pretty good songs on there, it feels like the same old stuff from his previous album. That might be why it only released one single, “Ben”. Still, that can be a good thing as well since I did like the first album. My favorite tracks were “Greatest Show on Earth”, “People Make the World Go ‘Round”, and “What Goes Around Comes Around.” Even though I don’t like it as much, check it out.

Music and Me
Music and Me was released in 1973. Don’t confuse it with the compilation album that has Jackson’s early hits. If I could name this album another name, it would be “Ballads Galore” or something like that. The album is mostly full of slow jams. It’s definitely different from the last two albums in that aspect and that’s a good thing in my opinion. It released four singles and has covers from artists like Stevie Wonder, Nat King Cole. He even did some songs that originated from old musicals. I can safely say that I enjoyed this one. It’s not my favorite of these four, but I still liked it. I liked its mellowness and smooth sound. The fact that it’s mostly full of slower songs makes it a listen. My favorite songs were “Euphoria,” “Music and Me”, “Doggin’ Around”, and “Morning Glow.”

Forever, Michael
This was Michael’s last solo album with Motown before he and most of his brothers left for CBS Records. It was released in 1975. The music is a bit of the same. From what I can tell, there are no covered songs on here either. The songs here are also a bit smoother than his previous albums. This is also the album where Jackson’s voice got much deeper and started to sound more mature. I also liked this album but it’s not my favorite on the list. It kind of reminds me of Off the Wall in some ways. Not only does Jackson have that mature voice, I also enjoyed the first half of the album better than the second half. My favorite songs were “We’re Almost There”, “Take Me Back”, and “Cinderella Stay a While”.

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Overall, give these albums a listen.  As you can tell, I really didn’t have much to say about them all. This was my first time listening to some of these songs, so a quick overview is all you get. My favorite album of the four is possibly Got To Be There. It just had a lot of good and memorable songs on there. Are any of these albums better than everything post-Off The Wall? Eh, I could probably say that about a couple, but not ones like Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous. Well, I can finally move on that epic 30-song list I’ve wanted to do. Peace and God Bless.

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