Thu. Aug. 05, 2021

The Jacksons – Style Of Life (PIR/Epic)

This Beat Is Mine! (*) The Jacksons – Style Of Life (Philadelphia International Records/Epic)

Like all the Philadelphia Sound fans, the passing of guitarist TJ Tindall has really saddened me. He definitely left his imprint on so many releases as a member of MFSB and later on The Salsoul Orchestra.
A post which I read somewhere on Internet mentioning his participation on The Jacksons‘s ‘Enjoy Life’ brought me all of a sudden back to my teenage period some 40 years ago. I gotta say though I way much preferred its B-side – ‘Style Of Life’ – which gave an inimitable Philly style to the guys. It stands to me as one of Michael Jackson‘s most vibrant performances ever.

I wish they would have done more in this vein, as surrounded by people like Dexter Wansel who arranged the whole, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff who produced it, McFadden & Whitehead in charge of the writing, and MFSB in the backing.

So long, TJ

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This Beat Is MineThis Beat Is Mine! (*)
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For this to happen, nothing’s more easy… What you’ve just got to do is drop us a line while using our contact form and let us know about your favorite piece of music (*), along with a review explaining what it suggests you and why people should dig it. And the best of it will be given a publication with your credit the week after.

With warm thanks to Washington, DC-based correspondent, Ken Smith, for this week’s suggestion…

Gladly welcoming yours to be published next Wednesday. On your marks!

– Did ever Jackie, Tito and their mother realize their would give birth to one of the most exciting ventures in the history of music? This when they found themselves singin’ harmonies together at night after the family’s TV had broken down!?! They would later be joined by Marlon, Jermaine and Michael. With their mom leavin’ when father Joe officially formed The Little Jackson Brothers.

It wasn’t long before he turned their name into The Jackson Five Singing Group (upon suggestion), itself naturally shortened to The Jackson Five

After they won a talent contest at the NY Apollo Theater during the Summer of 1967, Gladys Knight eventually sent a demo of them to Motown. But the label rejected it, sendin’ it back to the boys’ hometown in Gary, IN. Soon after, while performing at Beckman Junior High in Gary, they came to the attention of Gordon Keith who signed them on his Steeltown label. Eventually producing their debut-single – ‘Big Boy’ – and releasing it by the end of January 1968. The Five givin’ it a follow-up – ‘We Don’t Have To Be Over 21 (To Fall In Love)’ – before switching to Motown.

There, they started working along with Bobby Taylor who’d brought them to the label. The latter comin’ to produce their debut hits. In other words, ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’ and ‘The Love You Save’. Meanwhile, ‘I’ll Be There’ co-written and produced by Hal Davis, became the group’s fourth #1 single. This makin’ of them the first recording act to have their first four singles reach the top of the Hot 100!

The heat was (definitely) on, and it wasn’t long before The Jackson 5 became Motown’s best-selling group and main marketing focus. Motown jumpin’ on the band’s success to launch both Michael and Jermaine‘s solo careers.

By 1973, with an ear/eye on the then emerging Disco scene, the band delivered ‘Get It Together’. An album that saw them collaborating with writers such as Norman Whitfield and Leon Ware. The title track of their album somehow markin’ an evolution of their sound towards funkier vibes. With the same applying to ‘Dancing Machine’.

Two years after though, most of the group members decided to stop recording for Motown. Therefore claiming for creative control and get a better royalty rate. Eventually signing with Epic in June 1975. To the exception of Jermaine who decided to stay with Motown, with Randy replacing him from then on. The group turnin’ their name from The Jackson 5 (which was owned by Motown) to The Jacksons. Eventually makin’ their debut for their new label via Philadelphia International Records. This most likely being how they came to embrace the Philly Sound such as one could hear on the outstanding although quite underrated ‘Style Of Life’ which saw the light as the B-side of ‘Enjoy Yourself’.

The Jacksons eventually delivered another album for PIR before switching to Epic and release ‘Destiny’. An album that spanned ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ and ‘Shake Your Body Down To The Ground’, their biggest success ever for Epic. Another two years on, and would come its follow-up, ‘Triumph’. The latter featuring the memorable ‘Can You Feel It’, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and ‘Walk Right Now’.

In 1984 came ‘Victory’. The only album ever that saw the six brothers officially under the same banner. But also the last one along with Michael takin’ the lead vocals. Itself resulting in extra gems such as ‘Torture’ and ‘State Of Shock’ along with Mick Jagger. The… Victory Tour supported the album. Michael and Marlon went their respective ways shortly after the tour ended. Meanwhile Jermaine, Tito, Randy and Jackie continued as The Jacksons. Eventually releasing one more album, ‘2300 Jackson Street’, back in 1989, along with their sisters, Janet and Rebbie. Its title track nevertheless featuring the all six Jackson brothers.

Strangely enough, ‘2300 Jackson Street’ charted poorly. This despite the presence of the killer ‘Nothin That Compares 2 U’ produced by Swingbeat dons L.A. & Babyface. The album sold over half a million copies worldwide.
After a brief promotional tour, the band went into hiatus and never recorded another album together.

– Olanta, SC native Gene McFadden and John Whitehead met in Philadelphia during their school days in the 60’s. Together, they formed The Epsilons along with Lloyd Parkes who later joined Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
When Otis Redding came to the city, he invited them to become part of his revue. This leading them to set up a deal with Stax Records where they released ‘The Echo’.

After the departure of Parkes, they started working with Gamble & Huff on their North Bay label. Then soon after on their PIR label where they mostly worked as songwriting and production team. Eventually becoming to Philadelphia International Records what Holland/Dozier/Holland happened to be to Motown.

They wrote and / or produced an incredible amount of standards. From ‘Back Stabbers’ for The O’Jays’ to ‘I’ll Always Love My Mama’ for The Intruders. But also ‘Wake Up Everybody’ for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. Or ‘Style Of Life’ for The Jacksons. Not to mention ‘The More I Get The More I Want’ for Teddy Pendergrass. And ‘Let’s Groove’ for Archie Bell & The Drells to name a few.

As artists, they scored their biggest classic with the uplifting ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’, from their eponymous debut-album in 1979. A song soon after given a Rap/spoken word version by Douglas ‘Jocko’ Henderson (‘Rhythm Talk’). But also a Spanish one by Charanga 76 titled ‘No Nos Pararan’. It most likely also had a big influence on Italian Disco classic ‘Ma Quale Idea’ by Pino D’Angio the year after. With Stan Mosley addin’ his name to the list. Meanwhile givin’ it an extra cover version 38 years later.

Away from PIR, they also worked with luminaries such as Melba Moore, Freddie Jackson and Beau Williams among others. They eventually recorded a new version of ‘Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now’ back in 1984 for Sutra Records.

On May 11, 2004, John Whitehead was shot dead while fixing a car outside his home in Philadelphia, in an apparent case of mistaken identity. He was 55. The case remains unsolved…

Gene McFadden sadly died of liver and lung cancer on Jan. 27, 2006. He was 56.

You might also like…
10 essential Philadelphia International Records gems…
10 essential Salsoul Records gems…

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