I know this is late in coming, but I found it very difficult to write an appropriate musical eulogy for the best friend recorded music ever had: Michael Jackson.
Right from the start, J5 singles smacked down dancefloors and burned up charts. “I Want You Back” reached number one in January 1970, “ABC” shortly after. Those Motown years produced some monster tracks for disco including “Hum Along and Dance” which featured an 8 minute 11 second hardcore Norman Whitfield boogie and the refrain “Ain’t no words to this song …. you just dancin on and on …”.
That song was featured on the album “G.I.T.: Get It Together”, which transitioned each song seamlessly into the next, bringing the disco DJ experience to your livingroom. They continued recording disco jams like “Life Of The Party”, not released on any album and sold only 36,000 singles but one of the most underrated disco songs of the era and “Forever Came Today” a Diana Ross original reworked into a disco smash that claimed number one on the Billboard Hot Dance chart for three weeks in July ’75.
When The Jacksons left Motown for CBS they started by recording “Enjoy Yourself” and followed it up with dancefloor classics “Blame It On The Boogie” and “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”. But the Jacksons’ legacy was only a beginning for Michael.
During production of “The Wiz” where Michael Jackson starred as the scarecrow, the film’s score arranger Quincey Jones agreed to produce his new “little brother”‘s next solo album. What came out of this collaboration was… indescribable.
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, “Rock With You”, “Workin’ Day and Night”, “Get On The Floor”, “Off the Wall” and “Burn This Disco Out” really did burn disco dancefloors out as the spins mounted up. To this day, any of these songs will fill a dancefloor with wallflowers of all ages. They are just THAT good.
From this point the disco sound was starting to give way to the 80s, but Michael Jackson still gave us plenty to dance about with the Thriller album’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and a beat driven duet with living legend Paul McCartney: “Say, Say, Say”.
There are so many cuts I could have picked for this goodbye, but there was always one I would come back to. No matter how deep into the crate I dug, my fingers kept lingering on the most popular Jackson 5 disco jam that appeared not only as a 7″ and 12″ single, but also on two albums.
Long before Michael Jackson debuted the moonwalk on Motown 25 in 1983, he popularized another dance move during a Soul Train performance of this song in 1973.
I hope you’re in a better place now MJ, doing the robot on a cloud.
Jackson 5 – Dancing Machine