The Jackson 5
Released: May 1970
Chart Peak: #4
Weeks Charted: 50
Easy as "ABC," the Jackson Five have rocketed to the top of the soul and pop markets with an exciting sound that can only be described as that marvelous Motown sound of the early Supremes and Stevie Wonder. A bundle of energy and perpetual motion, the Five rip it up with their smash, plus sure shots like "The Love You Save," "One More Chance," and "I Found that Girl." Motown standards also get the hit treatment. Look out!
- Billboard, 1970.
Admittedly, the charm of hearing an eleven-year-old cover Smokey, Stevie, and the Delfonics may not be enduring. And admittedly, some of the filler -- "The Young Folks," for instance -- is embarrassing even by Motown standards. But in fact the eleven-year-old doesn't disgrace himself against Smokey and Stevie and beats the Delfonics going away. And some of the filler -- "ABC" you know, but how about "2-4-6-8"? -- recalls the days of great B sides. B+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
- Ron Wynn, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
This Gary, Indiana, family fivesome may have been the first urban boy-band to cross over into mainstream culture with such stratospheric success.
First starting in their basement led by their taskmaster father, Joe, and then personally groomed by Motown Records president Berry Gordy, they spent five years honing their act before arriving in 1969 with the number-one smash "I Want You Back" from their debut disc Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.
But it was their sophomore effort, ABC, which contained their second and third consectuive number-one hits, "ABC" and "The Love You Save," which truly catapulted the group into the international spotlight.
Album cuts like "Don't Know Why I Love You" and "Never Had a Dream Come True" showcased Michael's natural talent as a versatile frontman and engaging performer, while allowing the other brothers to flex their own vocal skills. Overall, ABC is the Jackson 5's most formidable recording, showcasing the collective's infectious energy and undeniable pop presence. Later records would have hits of their own like the the saccharine-sweet ballad "I'll Be There" and the softly beguiling "Never Can Say Goodbye," but none can match the overall strength of ABC.
Released between the Golden Age of Soul and the funk fashions of the seventies, the Jackson 5's clean-cut image and catchier-than-thou tunes made them a very bankable part of the Motown hit machine. By the time the Jackson 5 story ran its bittersweet course, the teen heartthrobs had become a merchandiser's dream, rivaling KISS for which the seemingly endless stream of products to which they could lend their likeness, and they had racked up over a dozen Top 40 hits.
The quintet would serve as the blueprint for the likes of New Edition and Boys II Men (and later, the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync), helping usher in an era where black pop bands were just as acceptable and triumphant as their blue-eyed counterparts.
ABC was voted the 98th greatest album of all time in a VH1 poll of over 700 musicians, songwriters, disc jockeys, radio programmers, and critics in 2003.
- Nevin Martell, VH1's 100 Greatest Albums, 2003.
Five months after their December 1969 full-length debut Diana Ross presents the Jackson 5, the Jacksons return with some of the best material Motown's legendary in-house writing and production crew had to offer: the full-bodied funk of the title track; the groovy, George Clinton-penned "I'll Bet You"; the playful schoolyard-love jam "2 4 6 8." Though it may seem odd in retrospect to think of a 12-year-old singing songs of romantic passion and yearning, Michael does so here with astonishing emotional conviction. A
- Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly, 7/10/09.
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