Sunday, September 26, 2010

Song of the Week: Give Me Half a Chance

by Corey Sheppard

"Give Me Half a Chance" was a beautiful ballad that truly didn’t get its chance to shine until 1986. And, boy, does it shine bright with most J5 fans.

"Give Me Half a Chance" was written by songwriter/actor Clifton Davis. Although he didn’t write too many songs for the Jackson 5, the songs he did compose for the group were always standouts. I truly loved his selections for the boys because he chose not to write “bubble-gum soul” tracks for the group, instead he mostly wrote mature love songs that would have been a challenge for any other teen group; but not the Jackson 5. Davis, who started his career as a songwriter ended up becoming an actor (he is mostly famous because of his role on the 80’s sitcom Amen.

"Give Me Half a Chance" was never released as a single or an album track throughout the Jackson 5’s stay with Motown. Instead, it was released over twenty five years later on Looking Back to Yesterday in 1986. It is absolutely absurd to me that this track was not released on either Third Album or Maybe Tomorrow. To me, the song has hit potential written all over, or it’s at least album placement material.

Maybe the reason Motown didn’t release the track was that they possibly felt the boys were doing too many ballads at this time. Just look at the difference between Third Album and Maybe Tomorrow and you’ll find it’s like comparing night and day. Third Album was more a ballad album, while Maybe Tomorrow was straight up bubble-gum pop mixed with a few soul ballads.

Since this track wasn’t released on an album, Jackson 5 fans had to use their imaginations as to when the song was recorded. It wasn’t until 2009 when Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection that we get a hint of when the track was cut. According to the booklet, "Give Me Half a Chance" was recorded between the years 1969-1970. It was apparently mixed, in 1971, and was considered a Got to Be There outtake (despite the brothers singing background vocals behind Michael.)

I would say this song was definitely not recorded in 1969, since neither Bobby Taylor nor the Corporation produced it. My opinion is that the song was recorded in 1970 or possibly 1971. The major hints to me are the instrumentation, and Michael’s high-pitched, slowly maturing lead. Also since Clifton Davis produced the record, I would speculate that this record and “Never Can Say Goodbye” were recorded around the same time. And since I’ve always suspected that “Never Can Say Goodbye” was recorded a little earlier than the rest of the sessions, it leads me back to my opinion that this song was recorded sometime late 1970.

Now on to the actual record! I love the persistent, urgent, back beat of the song. It keeps the track from becoming too mushy in my opinion. I would say this was one of the first Jackson records to use a harpsichord as the keyboard arrangement. Motown became literally obsessed with this instrument beginning in 1971 until about 1972. Also this track uses bells as well, which were also used in “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Michael sings this song as if his life depends on it. He never disappointed his fans when it came to a vocal delivery of a song, especially ballads.

In the end, "Give Me Half a Chance" remains a standout for me and for many others. I’m actually kind of happy this song isn’t very well-known in the music community, because once people think they have heard most of what the Jackson 5 has to offer, "Give Me Half a Chance" comes and takes them by surprise. I’m am thankful that it was finally released by Motown, so that we are can cherish this song in our collection. We truly can never get enough ballads from the Jackson 5. So to the Jackson 5: your chance finally came!

Next week’s song hint: Don’t take the easy way out/Believe there is a maker.

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Corey Sheppard, 20, has been a Jackson 5 fan since 1993. His favorite hobbies are listening to music, playing racquetball at the YMCA, and hanging out with friends. Corey’s life passion is centered on music. His latest project is an all-new production company shared with Robert White Jr. entitled "Ask About It Productions."


  1. Ah I waited to see if you would make a post on this song, because it's my absolute favorite and is always on my mp3 playlist when I go out.

    I personally thought it was early 70 as for the recording, judging by Michael's voice, but I can be wrong!

    It is indeed a shame the song never really got the chance to make it big when it was made, I'm sure it would have been another record breaking for the boys.

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  3. it was recorded in 1970-71.u can tell..and omg..i heard this song on an episode of "The Bernie Mac show"

  4. holy holy holy. What a vocal performance. What a vocal performance!!!!
    You're right, why God's name didn't the release this. Also should've released One Day I'll Marry You. There were a few duds on his solo albums where these could've fit in. They even put THE SAME song on the first two of his lps. --in all these years I just can't get over that one.

    I think the obsession with the harpsicord was to compete with all the white bubblegum groups surfacing. It was featured on the partridge Family's first hit, and a few others and it's a light, classical, "white" kind of sound (for lack of a better term).
    Sir Lev

  5. GREAT PHOTO WITH THE HATS! I guess Marlon and Michael were too young to wear 'em?

  6. Great track! Great info Corey! I've always liked this song, MJ kills it and the instruments are awesome!

  7. Thanks a mil' Scoop, and everyone!

  8. Corey,

    LOVE your song reviews. I really look forward to them. You often either reacquaint me with songs I may have known but haven't listened to in ages because they are trapped on LP but often introduce me to songs I didn't know or had completely forgotten. Thanks!