Friday, December 31, 2010

Closing Night in Mobile, Alabama, 1971

I found two notices of the concert in Mobile, Alabama, which closed out the Holiday Tour on January 3, 1971. The first was typical of the way upcoming concerts were promoted and advertised.

The second is an ad that includes an order blank for tickets, priced at $4.00, $5.00, and $6.00, suggesting that it would be the perfect holiday gift. I couldn't agree more.

Lucky are the fans who found tickets to a Jackson 5 concert in their stockings in 1970!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Caught on Tape in Jacksonville, Florida

Midway through the Jackson 5's Holiday Tour, an ABC News crew caught up with them to get some footage for a news feature on the rising popularity of the Jackson 5. I've never seen the final report that was made in late December of 1970, but the raw footage has been circulating among fans for years.

It's kind of maddening to watch because it jumps from scene to scene, in no particular order. But, if you're patient, you can see some great live footage of the Jackson 5 in concert in Jacksonville on December 30, 1970.

Part 1 shows them in rehearsals with Suzanne Depasse, and then moves into their live performance of "It's Your Thing." After that there are a lot of quick cuts to scenes that will become familiar as the tape progresses (More of the sound check/rehearsal and their arrival at the Jacksonville airport) before getting back to some more live concert footage of them singing "Stand" and more extensive footage of "It's Your Thing." Then it cuts back to "Stand" again, followed by a lot of quick cuts. Are you getting the idea?

Part 2 opens with Jermaine singing his lead part from "I'll Be There." Then it moves into a group interview that seems to bore everyone but Tito to tears. (Michael interrupts at one point to ask how much longer they have to stay, and when the interviewer asks if there's anything they want to do, Jermaine replies "Split.") Next it cuts to them entering their rooms in a surprisingly seedy roadside motel, and staging a pillow fight for the camera crew. Then we get back to more "It's Your Thing/Stand" concert footage, with a really nice guitar solo by Tito. That's followed by the opening of "I Want to Take You Higher," which is considerably less polished than the version they would do five months later in Indianapolis for the Goin' Back to Indiana special.

The first 30 seconds of Part 3 show live concert footage of "Feelin' Alright," followed by nearly nine full minutes of sound-check and rehearsal, during which Marlon valiantly tries to balance a drum stick on its pointed end. It's nice to hear the instruments behind the under-miked vocals in this clip.

Part 4 shows the group arriving at the airport and being loaded into two cars, as their luggage is loaded into a truck. At the three-minute mark an interview with Joe Jackson begins. At the seven-minute mark, the film returns to the group interview, with their tutor, Rose Fine, demonstrating her teaching technique by asking the boys questions about their visit the day before to the Hermitage while they were in Nashville. Michael was impressed with the size of Andrew Jackson's tomb and asked if his whole family was buried with him. And Tito was obviously paying attention during the tour, as he tells his teacher that Jackson's wife "...was bad --she played." (True -- she was already married to another man when she married Andrew Jackson.) Mrs Fine obviously doesn't like the direction the lesson is going in so she tells them they've had enough for the day. near the end of this part, the interview turns to Michael, who clearly has no idea what the interviewer is trying to ask him. (Frankly, neither do I.)

More inane questions from the clueless interviewer open Part 5, e.g. "Where does your music come from?" At the 7:53 mark, Marlon tries the drum-stick balancing act with a lemon on a drinking straw, and then we watch nearly two full minutes of the Jackson 5 sitting around, flipping through magazines. Riveting.

Part 6 opens with more prompting from Mrs. Fine to demonstrate the the depth of the education she is providing them. At the 2:06 mark, we finally get a glimpse of the ABC news correspondent, who identifies himself as Scott Osbourne. He repeats his sign-off several times before he decides it's okay. (Granted, it's not easy to put "lo these many years ago" and 'soul brother" in the same sentence with conviction.) In the meantime, we are treated to "Walk On" int he background, followed by the a complete version of "The Love You Save," but with really terrible sound. We even get to see their stage exit at the end of the song. And then there's a delicious snippet of the ending of "Who's Lovin' You" that leaves us wanting more, as does a short clip from "Darling Dear."

The seventh, and final part, continues with live footage of "Darling Dear." At the :25 mark, we are treated to a bit of footage of the legendary dance competition between Tito and Ronnie Rancifer, the group's keyboard player. First up is Tito with some oddly spastic moves. Jackie plays the group's Sandman, moving him off the stage so Ronnie can take over with his clearly superior moves. it's nice to see both Tito and Ronnie catching a bit of the spotlight and having some fun.

Thanks, Zero93330, for making all these videos available so we can get a sense of what the Holiday Tour was like!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Beach Boys

If you've got an extra £2300 in your pocket, you can buy a limited edition print of this wonderful photo taken by Lawrence Schiller in 1969 of the Jackson 5 dancing on the beach. Or, if you're poor like me, you can just be satisfied that someone verified the year this was taken and enjoy the jpg.

J5 in Music City in 1970

You think that with a city the size of Nashville, there'd be more of a trail of the Jackson 5's first concert there on December 29, 1970. All I could find was a grainy image from a publication called The Kaleidoscope, announcing the Jackson 5's upcoming concert.

Pat Adams, the website owner, was a young reporter who had just started writing for the publication. I wrote to Pat, hoping he had attended and could offer a first-person account or a review but, alas! Pat did not attend. He says he wish he had been there, though. He's still keeping the spirit of the J5 alive in Nashville with this nice web tribute, and gave me permission to link to it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Jackson 5 on Biography

If, like me, you missed The Jackson 5 on Biography during the busy holiday season, you can watch a few clips from it on their website. I'll keep an eye out for the rerun of it. My friend Jeff says there is some great rare footage and an interview with Tito, so it'll be worth checking out. Most of the features that run on Biography are eventually offered for sale as dvds so we'll have to keep an eye out for that, too.

Greensboro Concert Notice

The first document I've found for the Holiday Tour is a concert notice tagged onto the end of the same-old Motown press story.

Not very exciting but there you have it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Tour Schedule

I alluded to the Jackson 5's Holiday Tour Schedule in an earlier post that linked to a page from the December 31, 1970, issue of Jet magazine. Six dates and cities were listed there, compliments of the Soul Brothers Top Twenty.

I've never found much at all about this brief winter tour through the South, but this week, I'll be searching for any and all details, and posting what I find here. Don't get your hopes up -- it may not be much. I'd love to find a review from at least one of the concerts, though, because I'm curious as to what the J5's shows were like at the tail-end of their most glorious year. I'll keep looking.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ring in the New Year with Tito!

If you live in the Atlanta area, you can see Tito Jackson perform a selection of J5 songs, as well as a few songs from his upcoming album So Far, So Good. At midnight, his mother will join him to help with the countdown to 2011. Find out more on the Peach Drop website.

Looks Like the 16 Magazine Staff Writers Have Been Hitting the Egg Nog Again

Hope you all are having holidays as fantastic as the one they describe here. --J5Collector

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Song Fragments

I've played the Jackson 5 Christmas Album countless times over the years and it never struck me until this year just how many pieces of other songs are embedded int he songs they sing. I know fans always hope for Christmas Album outtakes, and hearing these little fragments of songs within songs makes me wonder if there were longer versions recorded of all of them.

Here are the ones I've noticed:
  1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas -- "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" in the fade out at the end
  2. The Christmas Song -- "Jingle Bells" in the fade out at end
  3. Up on the Housetop -- "Here Comes Santa Claus" is sung at the beginning, and at the middle. (Also, while it's not a song, a verse from "The Night Before Christmas" is rapped before Jermaine's verse)
  4. Someday at Christmas -- "White Christmas" played at the beginning and again at the end
Have I missed any song fragments?

Secret Santas

I have two press photos in my collection that show the Jackson 5 dressed up in Santa suits, posing with Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

The caption on the back of the photos from Motown's publicity department indicate that they were taken at a party thrown by Motown on December 23, 1971, where the J5 and Mary Wilson passed out presents to 600 underprivileged children. Beyond that, I have only come across a couple of mentions of the event. The Los Angeles Times had some fun with it in a social news column:
There was a first-person report (as well as a third photo from the event) in the May 1972 issue of 16 magazine. I love the reference here to Michael's Santa belly. I had never before noticed that he was the only one who added the appropriate amount of stuffing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Original Version of Big Boy Surfaces

There's breaking news today on the original recording of "Big Boy" from today's Chicago Reader. According to Larry Blasingaine, who played bass on the original studio version, the song was originally recorded,not at Steeltown but at Chicago's One-derful studio in July of 1967, six months before it was re-recorded for Steeltown. And, on the original, the Jackson 5 sing backing vocals, so the recording has a more authentic Jackson 5 style. The story is intriguing and, best of all, you can hear a clip of the original. I just hope they release the whole thing some day soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Song of the Week: Give Love on Christmas Day

by Corey Sheppard

“Give Love on Christmas Day” is such a beautiful, moving Christmas ballad. Released in 1970 on the only Jackson 5 Christmas album ever (and only Christmas album released by any Jackson, what a shame), the song shows the brothers taking on a serious ballad about caring and looking after another during the holiday season. This song has taken a life of its own for soul Christmas music fans and I take much pride in knowing that the song was written exclusively for the Jackson 5.

Written by the Corporation (Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell, Freddie Perren, and Deke Richards) “Give Love on Christmas Day” has many memorable moments. First the intimate production provided by the session musicians helps set the mood for the record. The drums are fantastic on this record. The high hats on the record frequently changed from a four count to an eight count, as well as the drummer hitting the rim on the verse then the snare drum on the choruses.

Twelve-year-old Michael Jackson lays down a beautiful vocal for this record. He truly had a gift of opening himself to any emotion a song could have. Most adults don’t have this gift, let alone a twelve year old in his first year of professionally recording, His vocals swift from first being very soft and adorable, to being urgent and pleading. Not many singers can do that, let alone a child. He never fails too impress the hardest critic! The background vocals are excellent too. You can clearly hear Jermaine and Jackie singing the harmony notes with Michael on the chorus. They sound excellent, and completely in tune.

The only little thing I can say about this record is that I would have loved for the songwriters to have written a bridge to this beautiful song. I guess it’s just my selfish way of saying “I wish the record were longer.” Every time I listen to “Give Love on Christmas Day,” there’s always a bit of sadness on my part when it comes to an end. I truly feel this record could’ve been stretched a bit more. I would even turn up the volume at the very last seconds of the record. I could clearly hear MJ singing: “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and Susie, too…” In my mind I thought “why, oh why, would they not let the record play longer?” Boy did I get a big surprise last year.

I, myself was already head-over-heels in love with “Give Love on Christmas Day” by the time the Ultimate Christmas Collection was released in late 2009. This beautiful set compiled by Motown contained several perks. One major perk for serious J5 fans was the color picture of the Jackson 5 around the Christmas tree in 1970. But the major, major highlight for myself and many J5 fans (including the owner of this page!) is the a capella version of “Give Love on Christmas Day” found near the end of the re-issue. All the vocals are here and, boy, does it sound good. The first time I heard it, I swear I got chills. Such beautiful vocals provided by the brothers, plus we received nearly an extra minute of vocal harmonies and extra lyrics provided by the boys. For J5 fans, this feels like a lifetime. What a nice little addition to this album, showing how much care Motown put into this package just for us.

his holiday wouldn’t be the same without the Jackson 5. The eleven tracks they made in summer 1970 have been a part of my life since the very beginning of my childhood. Recently, Jackie Jackson stated that the Christmas Album was one of his favorite J5 albums, and it is still to this day a big seller. That means the world to me and several others, proving that good tunes never die.

- - - - - - -
Corey Sheppard, 21, 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."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A J5 Christmas Portrait

Although Motown used photos from the Third Album's photo session on the Christmas Album, it's likely that the latter had its own photo session. I have in my collection three original 8 x 10 glossies that show the J5 posing around a Christmas tree, surrounded by gifts, that were obviously taken in 1970.

A fourth shot from this session appeared in the 2009 cd release, Jackson 5 Ultimate Christmas Collection. (If you don't have this, by the way, I highly recommend it, just for the a Capella version of "Give Love on Christmas Day.") It gives us a shot in full color, and I do mean full. You might want to put your sunglasses on before you look at Michael's outfit.

The photos were never used and, so far as I know, the only time one of them appeared in print prior to 2008 was in the December 31, 1970, issue of Jet magazine to accompany the Jackson 5's Holiday Tour schedule.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Album Art

I've always loved the original album cover for the Jackson 5 Christmas Album. Each of the individual shots of the brothers are superb -- it doesn't hurt that they were taken on a day when all five were at a cuteness peak.

It's obvious that the pictures were also taken on the same day as the cover art that was used for the Jackson 5 Third Album -- not surprising since the two albums were recorded around the same time, and even have similar names.

Although I've seen plenty of outtakes for the Third Album's group pose, I've only ever come across one for one of the individual shots:

It's a nice solo shot of Marlon, but nothing beats the one they chose for the cover of the Christmas Album.

A Christmas Memory

Jackie shares his holiday memories of Michael in this recent interview from USA Today. Among other things, he explains the family's holiday traditions (their mom doesn't celebrate because she's JW but everyone else does), and says what some of us have been saying for years: the Jackson 5 Christmas Album is one of their best albums of all time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Purely Made in Indonesia

When you're a collector, you have to be willing to take a risk with eBay items. Every once in a while, an item comes up that you've never heard of and you're perhaps even 95% sure is a fake, but you have to take a leap of faith for that 5% possibility.

That's what happened to me about ten years ago when I saw an eBay auction for this Indonesian cassette of the Jackson 5's Christmas Album that oddly had an Off the Wall-era photo of Michael superimposed over his 1970 self.

But it wasn't the strange photo choice that made me leap -- it was the track listing. As you'll see from the scan of the back, it includes six songs that were not on the original LP.

For years there have been rumors swirling around that there are unreleased J5 Christmas songs floating around out there among European collectors. One fellow in France even posted a list of his bootleg J5 Christmas songs for a few months before constant haranguing from fellow collectors drove him to take the list down. And those of us who are Motown fans in general know that there were more than likely outtakes from the Christmas Album sessions -- other songs recorded that didn't make the cut, or different versions of the songs that did. (A complete list of Christmas Album outtakes that are rumored to exist can be found in For the Record by Chris Cadman and Craig Halstead.)

This cassette, with a sticker on the box that reads "Purely Made in Indonesia," has all the hallmarks of a bootleg, so I had to bid on it, on the off-chance the six additional songs were recorded by the Jackson 5.

Sadly enough, they weren't. They were all songs by other artists, most of whom didn't even sound like the Jackson 5. But it was worth a shot, and I'd do it all over again if another opportunity were to present itself because there are just so many Christmas songs I'd love to hear the Jackson 5 sing.

Now That's What I Call a Christmas Feast

A double-centerfold from the February 1973 issue of 16 magazine

Tied Up with a Bright Red Bow

All of my first-time sightings of new J5 LPs were in the store where I bought the record, with one exception: the Christmas Album. Until I saw it I didn't even know it existed, so I didn't know to haunt the store for it.

I was in 8th grade Gym class, of all places, when I first laid my eyes on the Jackson 5 Christmas Album. A girl I didn't know very well named Paula Brown had it. Why she brought it with her to Gym class -- and into the gymnasium itself, as opposed to the locker room -- is beyond me. But there I was, waiting to start my jumping jacks when I noticed a group of girls gathered around a bright orange-gold LP. I didn't think much about it until I heard one of them say "Look at Tito!" and then I had to barge my way into the crowd for a look. Could it be? Oh, my God, it was!

A new Jackson 5 album! And a Christmas album! And just look at how adorable they all are, each one looking like the gift tag on a shiny Christmas present, all tied up with a big red bow. Have you ever seen a more handsome group? And, indeed, look at Tito -- he's smiling! I believe it was the first photo I'd ever seen of him when he was smiling. It was also the first time we got to see their signatures. For some reason, this was a big deal to us. Proof, perhaps, that we finally had their correct names, with the correct spellings. We studied those signatures. I have an uppercase T in my name, and I copied the way Tito made his initial T for years, and my best friend and fellow J5 fanatic, Janet, adopted Jermaine's J.

Paula let me hold her LP so I could turn it over to read the track listing. I recognized most of the songs, and even knew all the words to many of them, so I couldn't wait to hear how the Jackson 5 would sing them.

I was even willing to forgive Motown for the boring back LP cover. It was, after all, what was on the vinyl that mattered.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let It Rain, Let It Snow, Let It Get Dark at Night...

I knew the U.S. Post Office was operating under a massive deficit but... a holiday compilation cd? At least they included a J5 song. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" is the last cut on the cd. And it usually ships in one business day. That's because they don't have to take it to the post office to mail it.

Whoah yeah!

Many of my earliest J5 memories involve being awakened by my clock radio on a school day to the sounds of a brand new release from the Jackson 5. In the days before internet, we never really had any idea when a new song was scheduled to be released, so most singles we heard for the first time on the radio came as a complete surprise.

I remember being jolted from my sleep one morning in late November by the a tripped-up version of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," a popular kids' Christmas song that I was used to hearing droned out off-key by a fifth-grade chorus at a school holiday program. I had never heard the song sung with such vigor and soul, and I was pretty sure from the first few measures that it was being sung by the Jackson 5. But by that time there were so many J5 imitators you couldn't always be sure. It wasn't until I heard Michael belt out the first "Whoah yeah!" that I knew for certain it was the Jackson 5.

A new single from the J5, and a Christmas single to boot! As soon as school was out that day, I rushed to my neighborhood dime store to buy it. Luckily, they had it in stock, so I plunked down my 49 cents and ran the two blocks home to play it.

I must have played it four or five times before I tried out the flip side. I had never heard of the song "Christmas Won't Be the Same This Year" but then I had never heard most of the songs the Jackson 5 sang before I played their new releases, not even the cover versions of Motown standards. Of course, I loved the B-side even more, since it was a soulful slow-tempo song with Jermaine singing lead. And I loved, loved, LOVED the spoken-word intro, with the other brothers chiding Jermaine for not feeling the Christmas spirit. It felt like they were in the room with me, talking to me.

I didn't know then -- or even suspect -- that within the week I'd have an entire LP of Jackson 5 Christmas songs to enjoy. If I'd looked closely at the label, I would have gotten a major clue that there was a Jackson 5 Christmas Album out there, but I was just a clueless kid who didn't read boring record labels. For the time being, I was happy playing both sides of that Christmas single, over and over again.

It was only later when I became a serious adult collector that I acquired a copy of the white label promo, the sort of record the A.M. radio d.j. woke me up with all those years ago. This promo is distinctive because it's marked "Audition Copy." It's a designation Motown frequently used on their promo releases, but I believe "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" is the only J5 promo so marked.

In my next post I'll write about the first time I saw the Jackson 5 Christmas Album. Whoah yeah!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town...

... and to the J5 Collector blog as well. Watch for special Christmas-related posts from now till December 25.

Up on the Housetop

Here's a nice fan-made video for a favorite J5 Christmas song:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What Part of ABC Do You Not Understand?

Not surprising that no one has volunteered any Lyric Interpretations for the Jackson 5.

The Subtle Knife

If we can believe the editors as Spec and 16 (and that's a big if), the Jackson 5 had a photo session scheduled with the teen magazine giant on Jermaine's 17th birthday. Everyone forgot Jermaine's birthday, it seems, except for the fine folks at 16/Spec who surprised him with a cake. The whole day was documented in their May 1972 issue, complete with the photo evidence and Spec's classic teen-cheese write up.

I had this pin-up of Jermaine hanging up on my bedroom wall and I looked at it daily for almost a year, but I never noticed until I saw the real photo from the session that Jermaine isn't actually holding a knife in his hands -- he's just pretending to cut the cake.

I don't know if they had planned to have their graphic artist draw the knife in later, or if they just thought no one would notice. I know I never did -- I was too busy looking at Jermaine's sweet face.

He is holding something in his hands though. I can't tell what it is, but the photographer obviously gave him something that would simulate a knife handle so he'd get the pose right.

As for the cake topper, I can't tell if it's John, Paul or George.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love Gifts for Jermaine

Wait! Close that wallet! According to TcB! Jermaine would rather have something you have made yourself.

Off to work on my special prayer for Jermaine...

Rings and Crazy Hats

Jermaine's birthday is just around the corner. If you haven't done your shopping for him yet, you may want to check out 16's "All-Star Birthday and Gift Guide" from their January 1971 issue.

I never understood why the teen magazines included clothing sizes in these gift guides. Did anyone ever actually send Jermaine socks?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'll Be There Will Be There

It was announced today that "I'll Be There" is one of the the 30 songs that will be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. It joins "I Want You Back," which was inducted back in 1999, making it the second J5 song to make it into the Hall of Fame.
Full press release here.

For the record, "I'll Be There" has been in my own personal Hall of Fame since September 1, 1970.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't Ever Give Anyone Your Microphone... Especially Her

I'm not sure why a local dinner theater would want to reenact scenes from The Jacksons: An American Dream, and I'm even less sure why they'd put it up on YouTube. Even though this is my favorite scene from the mini series, I can barely stand to watch this. Someone's doing a poor imitation of Holly Robinson doing a poor imitation of Diana Ross. And couldn't wardrobe have found the Jason Weaver wannabe a sport coat that was closer to his size?

Rare Photos of Michael in the Motown Studio

Photos of the Jackson 5 at work in the Motown studio are hard to come by, which is surprising when you consider how many hours they spent there. Here are a couple of early photos that I just came across of Michael in the studio. I like them because they are candid shots, obviously snapped between takes. In the second one, you can see the dent the earphones made in Michael's afro.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just How Rare is ABC on Gold Vinyl?

This eBay auction makes an interesting claim about the gold vinyl ABC promo with the original printed sleeve:
Really?? In my life as J5 collector, I have purchased two of these with the original printed sleeve for reasonable prices ( under $50), and I see it come up for sale on eBay several times a year -- including the custom sleeve that makes this item rare in the first place. In fact, there are currently two for sale on eBay right now.

It's not nearly so rare as, say, Rappin' with the Jackson Five or the Canadian promo single for I Hear a Symphony, which only come up for auction once in a blue moon. Not to mention the extremely rare U.S. promo for the canceled single "Boogie" with a picture sleeve, or the Brazilian pressing of Jackie's only known Motown single, "Thanks to You." Both of these are so rare I've never even seen either of them for sale, and have only seen a photocopy of each one from other collectors. I could actually believe that there are only 26 of them in existence.

And that's another thing. How did this seller ever arrive at the number 26? Maybe it was based on a count of the number that have been on eBay in the past year.