November 1st, 2012

Title: Come and Get It: Rare Pearls

Artist: Jackson 5

Label: Hip-O Select

Format: 2-CD + 45rpm box set

Release date:  September 15, 2012

 

 

Is it possible to get enough of the Jackson 5? Not for me, though I freely admit my bias and nostalgia for the ‘70s when the group was regularly topping the charts.  Thankfully, there are still numerous unreleased J5 recordings in the vault, and this set proves that many of them are indeed “rare pearls.”

Come and Get It was compiled by Deke Richards, the Motown songwriter/producer tapped by Barry Gordy to produce the J5’s first album. In the liner notes Richards tells the story of his first encounter with the group in the summer of 1969, when Gordy drove some of his L.A. staff over to the Daisy Club on Rodeo Drive.  “My jaw dropped to the floor. I didn’t know how else to respond to seeing Frankie Lymon, James Brown and Jackie Wilson portrayed by the same little cat at the same time. Was that possible? Was that really possible? I was less than 20 feet away from these five young boys from Indiana, and I can tell you right now: Yes. It was the Gospel Truth. If you ever heard a young entertainer sing his or her heart out once in your life . . . I guarantee you: the experience was nothing like the night I saw Michael Jackson and his four brothers.”  And that’s exactly what makes this set compelling: 32 previously unreleased tracks, recorded between 1969-1974, illustrating the maturation of Michael from a frighteningly talented 11-year-old prodigy to a fully seasoned professional at 16.

The songs on each disc are not quite consecutive (care is taken to create a good flow), but disc one primarily consists of tracks recorded from 1969-1971. Highlights include “I Got a Sure Thing” penned by Stax’s Al Bell and Booker T. Jones; a funny cover of Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come;” the Hal Davis produced “Someone’s Standing in My Love Light;” and the studio version of “Feelin’ Alright.”

Disc two continues through 1974, the Jackson’s final year on Motown.  Stand out tracks include a cover of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s “You Can’t Hurry Love” where Michael demonstrates that he can easily out sing the Supremes; “Keep Off the Grass” written, produced and arranged by Deke Richards; the Hal Davis produced “Let’s Go Back to Day One;” and “Label Me Love” (produced by Clay McMurray) and “Jumbo Sam” featuring Michael without his brothers.  The three bonus tracks include the original complete versions of “That’s How Love Is,” “If I Have to Move a Mountain,” and the demo of “Mama’s Pearl,” all produced and arranged by The Corporation (Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, Alphonso Mizell and Berry Gordy).

The box set, which is the size of a 7-inch tape reel, includes a 31-page booklet with wonderful archival photos, the two CDs housed in 45-style sleeves, and one Motown 45-rpm disc featuring “If the Shoe Don’t Fit” on the A-side (one of the best tracks on the set) and “Feelin’ Alright” on the B-side (both are also included on the CDs).  This compilation is even better than Hip-O’s previous release from 2009, I Want You Back: Unreleased MastersIf you have any J5 fans on your holiday shopping list pick this up now, because the pressing is limited to 4000 copies.

Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss

Review Genre(s): Popular, Rock, and Misc.,Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Funk


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