The Jacksons

The Jacksons

The Jacksons’ first collaboration with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff heralded the second great phase in the development of America’s preeminent soul family. The Jackson 5 had been conceived and incubated by Motown, and there was no telling how a shift to a different label, with a completely different sound, would affect the brothers. Fortunately, Gamble and Huff were masters at working with vocal groups, and the Jackson’s 1976 album for Philadelphia International is not only a triumph for the brothers, but a high point of the Philly soul sound. Gamble and Huff’s lush, featherweight orchestrations turned out to be the ideal backdrop for Michael Jackson’s delicate voice. “Enjoy Yourself,” “Think Happy,” and “Style of Life” epitomize the label’s smooth, upbeat grooves, but the slower songs (“Good Times,” “Blues Away”) exhibit an even more seductive, fragile groove. The album’s centerpiece is “Show You the Way To Go,” a sublime fusion of Philly harmony, pure pop and disco that somehow retains a mysteriousness despite its catchy melodies.

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