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20 of 20 found the following review helpful:
Great Stuff, Too Bad All The Singles Weren't IncludedApr 08, 2004
By James E. Bagley
Overshadowed by brother Michael's solo career and best known for their career establishing, oft-packaged tenure at Motown (1969-1975), the Jackson brothers made some fine music for the Epic label from 1976-1989. Surprisingly, their Epic hits had not been anthologized until this new 14-track Essential set.
Having lost their Jackson 5 moniker and brother Jermaine to a solo career when they left Motown, the newly christened Jacksons - with youngest brother Randy now in the fold - were assigned to legendary Philly soul writer-producers Gamble & Huff for their first two Epic albums The Jacksons (1976) and Goin' Places (1977). These albums showcased a significant maturation in the group's sound, led by their more intricate harmonies. But aside from the snappy "Enjoy Yourself," the hits ("Show You The Way To Go," "Goin' Places," and "Find Me A Girl") are indistinctive pleasantries that could have just as easily been performed by Gamble & Huff's primary act, The O'Jays.
Starting with their third Epic album Destiny in 1978, the Jacksons - especially Michael, Jackie, and Randy - began writing and producing their own material. Destiny was, amazingly, a vast improvement over the Gamble & Huff albums. Its two hit singles "Blame It On The Boogie" and "Shake You Body" (Down To The Ground)" stand among the most potent hits of the disco era, highlighted by Michael's sunny lead vocals, smooth backgrounds from the brothers, and a supple bass line. Unlike most dance hits from the late '70s, these recordings still sound fresh today.
Michael followed up Destiny with his megastar-making solo vehicle Off The Wall in 1979. The confidence brought on by that project's success was immediately evident when he re-teamed with his brothers for Triumph in 1981. Triumph, on which Michael had a hand in writing nine of its ten tracks, was a topically diverse, sonically exciting masterpiece. The dramatic epic "This Place Hotel" - with its shrieking and slamming door sound effects - offered a small taste of the theatrics that Michael would later meld into the title track of his landmark solo album Thriller. Meanwhile, "Can You Feel It" delivered Michael's first save/improve the world anthem - a topic he would revisit on his subsequent solo projects.
After Thriller's release in 1982 made Michael one of, if not THE most famous musicians on the planet, he cut back on his musical involvement in the Jacksons. He contributed only three compositions to their slight, over-hyped 1984 album Victory that featured the return of Jermaine to the act. Victory's lead-off single "State Of Shock" - a lyrically empty riff - owed its success primarily to the vocal event pairing of Michael and Mick Jagger. It's the only recording from Victory included on this set.
With the Jacksons' next project, 1989's 2200 Jackson Street, Michael limited his participation to one track: the sweet, autobiographical title hit that featured vocal contributions from all of the Jackson siblings except the then-ostracized LaToya. It's other single, the Jermaine-led "Nothin (That Compares 2 You)" was a slice of new jack swing that recalls - far too much - producers LA & Babyface's work with Bobby Brown. Dropped by Epic after sluggish sales, 2200 Jackson Street remains the Jackson brothers last collaborative effort to date.
This Essential collection concludes with the brothers' live rendition of Michael's solo hit "Don't Stop `Til You Get Enough." Had this murky recording's spot been filled by Victory's haunting "Torture" and the Caribbean flavored "Body" (the only Epic singles excluded here), this retrospective of the most underappreciated phase of the Jacksons' illustrious career would have earned its Essential name.
19 of 22 found the following review helpful:
Am I disappointed ??? YOU BET !!!Jun 02, 2008
By Matthew G. Sherwin
The Essential Jacksons "essentially" cheats both The Jacksons and their fans of so much I can't believe it! The songs here are good; but there's too much missing--this should have been a much more extensive two CD set. However the sound quality is good and what we do get is very good material. The artwork is nicely done.
"Enjoy Yourself" is an excellent number that has that funky `70s sound that still makes me want to dance today! The Jacksons sing this very well and "Enjoy Yourself" makes a great starter song for this album. Awesome! "Show You The Way To Go" slows down the pace a bit but it also has a disco flavor to it; I can't quite verbalize it but the song works very well. Michael's voice is in excellent form and "Show You The Way To Go" is a fine song. "Goin' Places" really has a great beat; I like "Goin' Places" with its rapid fire beat and The Jacksons sing this without a superfluous note. Michael sings the main lyrics of the song while his brothers back him up very, very well. Wow, these young men had talent!
"Blame It On The Boogie" is one of my very favorite tunes by The Jackson; Michael and his brothers perform this with all their hearts and souls. "Blame It On The Boogie" has a melody that is infectious and catchy--you'll want to hear this tune several times over! I really like "Blame It On The Boogie." "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" was a major hit for The Jackson; and thank goodness they had the wisdom to include this song here! "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" has a beat that is perfect for dancing and I love it! "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)" is a major highlight of this album.
"Can You Feel It" is one of those tunes that once you hear it you can never forget it. The Jacksons really had their act together when they recorded "Can You Feel It." Michael again sings the main lyrics to the song as his brothers back him up; and that keyboard work enhances the ballad all the more! "Can You Feel It" is good, strong dance music from the `70s and it still sounds wonderful today.
"Walk Right Now" also has a funky 70s beat and The Jacksons perform this with all their might; the beat moves quick and this enhances the number--it's very strong and I think you'll like "Walk Right Now" very much. Similarly, "State Of Shock" is great music for dancing; it's not a tune I have heard as much as the others but it grew on me rather quickly. This shows us a more mature Jacksons and that's terrific. "Nothin (That Compares 2 U)" is also more recently recorded music; but the basic "Jackson feel" is still there. The CD ends with a live cut from a tour they did entitled "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." You can tell The Jacksons enjoyed a fine rapport with their audience and that's a superb way to end this album.
Now I have no arguments with the music that we get here; but there's not enough to call this an "essentials" type of compilation. Humph! Three stars for being good but just not delivering all that I expected from this type of album.
12 of 13 found the following review helpful:
Finally, but misses the markMar 22, 2004
On the positive side, it's great to have a hits compilation on the Jacksons. I've wanted this collection to come out for so long. It was scheduled and cancelled at least four times. I'm thrilled that it finally happened.
I wanted to give the collection 5 stars, but...
The tracklist is weak. The absence of Torture is a major oversight. The live Don't Stop Til You Get Enough is barely listenable, while the exceptional Jackson 5 Medley from the same live album would have been more appropriate and still fit, but it too was omitted.
There are no liner notes. A poem by Jermaine from the 2300 Jackson Street album has been included here. But what about something new? The Jacksons great story? Not here.
However, my biggest complaint is that the mastering is poor. Were these songs mastered from the original masters or from the poorly sounding CDs issued over 10 years ago? The songs don't sound clean, while the original albums on vinyl sound wonderful. Of course, the actual albums on CD need an overhaul too, but that's another topic.
Sony, please do the right thing and try this one again. We've waited so long, and the Jacksons deserve their due.
If you don't have the Jacksons on CD, get this collection, they're great songs. However beware, it's far from perfect.
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Missing the MarkDec 17, 2004
Even as a huge fan of the Jacksons, I bought this with some hesitancy. First, I had all the tracks (in older, non-remastered versions, but still had them) and the only new music to my ears was the extra 30 seconds of "Enjoy Yourself" ad-libs. And second, I wondered about the title. Sure, the Jacksons made some very good and influential music post-Motown, but was there enough "Essential" music to fill a whole disc? In my mind, the "Essentials" would include every charting hit, as well as any album tracks that help showcase muscial growth or influence. In this case, including one or two of the Jacksons' first self-penned songs ("Blue Away," "Style of Life," "Different Kind of Lady," or "Do What You Wanna") would have been interesting and important. There was plenty of room on the disc for adding a song or two. One of the biggest gems on the disc is "Find me a Girl." What a perfect display of Michael's soulfulness and vocal mastery. Including only the two singles from "Destiny" is a shame, as that album was really their breakthrough into adult success and had several great dance-funk tunes that set the Jacksons apart from the cookie-cutter disco crowd. Leaving off "Torture" and "Body" (both top 40 hits) from the "Victory" album, while inserting the live version of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" seems to lean this set toward Michael and not the group. In essence, this set doesn't seem to find its goal. It's not a greatest hits collection, as some of their hits are not here while some of their flops are; and as I have stated, it doesn't successfully cover all of what I would call their "Essential" music.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
FORGET WHATS NOT HERE, FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFFAug 27, 2004
The cd starts of with "Enjoy Yourself", which is a hot uptempo that showcases the Jacksons at a point where they still showed signs of their Motown roots.
Next comes "Show You The Way To Go". This song has great guitars on it, and Michael's singing is haunting and compelling. A beautiful song.
"Goin' Places" is very original, lyrics-wise. It's fast and very danceable. Makes you want to sing along.
"Find Me A Girl" is sweet and slow, with once again, Michael singing beautifully.
"Blame It On The Boogie" did not receive the success it deserves, in my opinion. It shows tight harmonies from the boys and a good beat.
"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" is a classic. If you dont know the famous hook, "Lets dance, Lets Shout...Shake Your Body Down to the Ground..." then I may have to ask you where you've been hiding all this time. (LOL)
"Lovely One" is another of my favourite records. A classic example of funky disco at its finest.
"This Place Hotel"...It feels strange calling it that, because for many people, it will always be known as "Heartbreak Hotel". Its sad to me that the title had to be changed just because it shared the title with another song. There are many songs out there with similar titles, but nothing happens there. Art creates itself, and if Michael felt that this song was "Heartbreak Hotel", then thats what I'll call it! The song, it really goes without saying, is wondeful.
"Can You Feel It" ushered in a theme for the Jacksons that has stuck around up until this day, that is, healing the world and bringing everyone together, However, its not a slow, depressing ballad. Instead, it boasts a danceable rhythm.
"Walk Right Now" is a great song. Its quick and final, as it deals with getting rid of a girl who has done something wrong.
Some of the lyrics, "I dont care, what you sayin'...Walk right now, I aint playin'..."
"State of Shock" is a refreshing rock dance song. As always, a la "Beat it" and "Dirty Diana", Michael fuses the rock and dance together excellently.
"2300 Jackson Street" features cameos from Janet and Rebbie Jackson. It also features Jermaine and Michael Jackson, who by this time (1989), had departed as regular members of the group to persue solo careers. But, for this song, they all came together again, and still sounded great.
"Nothin (That Compares 2 U)" also has Jermaine featured. It is a typical, but nonetheless hot, 80's uptempo.
The live version of "Dont Stop Til You Get Enough" is a good way to wrap the album. Many people wonder why one of Michael's solo hits was included on this Jacksons compilation, but thats becuase of the fact that all of the Jacksons were playing the music and singing backroung vocals. I, personally, enjoy hearing Michael live, but I am biased towards anything he does :)
Its cool to hear the girls in the audience scream out when he sings lyrics like, "So get closer, to my body now..." I enjoy it :D
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