AAMAM: Michael Jackson Six Years Removed. Part 25 of 30

a mikeSix years ago today Michael Jackson (1958-2009) shocked the world when he died of an overdose in his home. The world was left with an unfillable void.

Listen to everything Michael!

Continue to rest R.I.P. Legend. Icon. King of Pop!

AAMAM appreciates Michael!

Check out “Smooth Criminal” Live!

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Sometimes You Gotta Scream To Get Into the Conversation

Scream Michael & JanetThis post is a bit more than a photo of Michael Jackson and his sister Janet.  Although a lot could be said about the photo above that could range from the perils of a dynastic family to androgyny to nepotism and on and on . . . However this post is a video presentation.  Below you will find Michael Jackson’s 18 year-old “Scream” video.  This video, in my opinion, is one of the best videos ever filmed.  The video’s imagery hinges itself on classic escapism; Michael and Janet are literally escaping unknown ills in search of solace and unfettered leisure all within a futuristic setting.  The video is the suggested remedy to the song “Scream.” Michael’s song as announced by critics during the time of its release was a critical, angry, and vengeful response to his treatment in the media and his proclamation of frustration, social and personal injustice.  Michael was simply tired of it all.  The pairing of the song and video is a wonderfully awesome account of call and response between sonic and image.  The analysis of this fact would be amazing, but as Sweet Brown said, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”  To do it right one would have to explore the very nature of social injustice, resentment, the realities and purpose of pop culture in the media, fame, race, responses to stress, dance as celebration and of course the future; space travel, weightlessness, spaceship aesthetics (and connect it to Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey and might as well add in Star Wars and Star Trek while your at it), not to mention sibling rivalry and support and finally, why is it in black and white?

In the end, this amazing video allows Black artists through R&B and Soul to continue their sentimental conversation of life in America, which began in the sorrowful hums and moans while crossing the Atlantic to the Southern field hollers and ring shouts to the first utterance of a Blues riff in a juke joint.  This is Black music! Black music, since its beginning has always told a story of sentiment with emotion.  Listen to the conversation and have a great BMM!

Turn it up!

I Want You Back!

My version of the Jackson Five story. It answers most of your reasonable questions, really! Happy BMM!

Early Jackson Five Promotional Photo. What the hell is Michael doing?

Early Jackson Five Promotional Photo.
What the hell is Michael doing?

The group formed in 1964 in the Jackson family living room.  It consisted of Sigmond Esco “Jackie”, Toriano Adaryll “Tito”, Jermaine LaJuane, Marlon David, and Michael Joseph Jackson.  In early 1967 during rehearsals precocious Michael was unable to contain mouth and body  as he danced and sang like his idols James Brown and Jackie Wilson.  So, The instrumental group known as The Jackson Bothers moved Michael from the congas to lead singer.  And so it begins!

In 1967:

With a name change to the Jackson Five, the group hit the ‘circuit’ of showcases, bars, nightclubs, strip clubs, and won every talent show in Gary Indiana to Chicago.  The youth and talent of the group were impressive and Michael’s embodiment of pure cutting edge raw soul helped set the boys apart from all up and comers!  The Jackson Five wrecked shop (this is a good thing) on stage at the Apollo in New York. Of course they won!  The Jackson Five garnered the attention, recognition, and support of Gladys Knight who told Berry Gordy about the group.  Gordy did not want to take on another youth group, as he was already frustrated with child prodigy Stevie Wonder and the child work laws in the music industry.  The group soon signed a deal with Gordon Keith of Steeltown Records, a local company in Gary Indiana.  They recorded their first single “Big Boy”.  It was a local hit!

In 1968:

The group signed a two-week deal to open for Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers (Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong played guitar in this band) in Detroit.  Again Gladys Knight and now Stevie Wonder appealed to Gordy to at least see the group.  With Gordy having just moved to Los Angeles he sent Suzanne de Passe, who brought Diana Ross with her to see what Knight and Wonder were raving about.  They were impressed to say the least and immediately invited the Jackson Five to film an audition to send to Gordy in L.A.  With the bands musical ability and Michael losing himself in a performance of James Brown’s “I Got The Feeling”, as well as Ms. Ross whispering in Gordy’s ear, he signed them to Motown without hesitation.

The following year they released their first single “I Want You Back” which competed with the singles of the day such as James Brown’s “Mother Popcorn,” the Dells “Oh What a Night,” the Temptations “Can’t Get Next to You,” and Diana Ross and the Supremes “Some Day We’ll Be Together.”

During the seventies the Jackson Five were not only a musical success, but also commercial, cross cultural, and a social success as well.  Images of the Jackson Five could be found everywhere from the cereal box to t-shirts to a television show. The Jackson Five forged new ground in a post civil rights era with a new soul aesthetic not unlike Sly and The Family Stone, which allowed them to gain a mass appeal.

The rest is history!

The audition tape: Would you sign them?:

Your Sunday iPod Add: (You Caught Me) Smiling!

Everyone loves a great sincere smile.  A smile is a simple action that is free; it cost nothing to give or receive.

Someone once said this about a smile:

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.

Maya Angelou

But you’re so busy changing the world; just one smile can change all of mine.

Jack Johnson

Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone.

Michael Jackson

Peace begins with a smile . . .

Mother Teresa

You caught me smiling, again!

Sly and The Family Stone

Here is your Sunday iPod add. Enjoy . . . and smile! You’ll thank me later.

Michael and the Michael list

Happy Birthday Michael Jackson!

Michael would have turned 54 today.  Hard to believe he is not with us anymore.  At this moment, Michael’s legacy still lives on and will certainly do so for quite a long time.

His name alone evokes the epitome of entertainment, showmanship, and unmatched talent.  Mention the name Michael amid a crowd of people and there will be no mistake of whom you are speaking.  To date, he is the most famous Michael to have ever lived.  Neither the Archangel Michael nor basketball’s “greatest”  Michael Jordan, can trump his popularity.

However, there are other entertainers/singers who share the name with the “King of Pop” who are well known in their own circles.  Although constantly in the shadow of the “Great One,” these other Michaels have successfully created a name for themselves.  Collectively, these other Michaels share the same name and my fandom and admiration.  Here is a list, which includes my favorite Michael album and 5 must have albums of singers who share the same name; Michael.

Yep, I like this one way more than “Thriller”

Michael Bublé. He is a Sinatra and Crosby reboot who is multiplatinum on mutiple chrats in multiple countries.

Michael Franti. The quintessential poet musician singer.

Michael Bolton. Over the top blue-eyed soul at its best. You gotta have it.

Michael McDonald. He sings some Teddy P on this one.

Michael Franks. Who else sounds like him? No one!!!

So, who’s your favorite Michael?

5 Albums, Seriously!

You’ve all heard the question “What are your 5 favorite albums?” or this one “You find yourself stranded on a deserted island, what 5 albums do you hope you have with you?” Or even better, “If you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, which albums would you choose?”  These are seemingly harmless questions at first glance.  However, these questions are quite devastating if taken lightly.  You can’t just answer them too cavalierly, because the future of your listening pleasure is at stake.  You have to think seriously about these things.  Take some time, sit down, rub your chin, go over your music collection, and sleep on it.  Don’t ever rattle off 5 albums on a whim–that would be crazy insane and certain death ten days into your horror if you ever had to actually live out two of the above questions.

So, welcome to my Sunday afternoon.  I was faced with the question “If you could only listen to 5 albums for the rest of your life, which albums would you choose?” My first thought was “Oh this is easy!” I positioned my hand like I did when I was in elementary school to count to 5 . . . and that’s it. That’s all I did.  I stood motionless for a while . . . thinking.  My mind, like some possessed jukebox, began to play snippets of songs I heard over my whole life.  I even imagined a bevy of album covers, which was crazy (the Rufus feat. Chaka Khan album cover with the lips on it popped up most often and I don’t know why . . . really, I don’t).  This was tough because I wasn’t choosing 5 songs or 5 artists, but rather 5 entire albums.  I couldn’t quickly settle on 5.  I was stumped.  I had to get serious. So, I sat down, rubbed my chin, and went over my music collection, ultimately I slept on it.

Over night my mind weeded out all the albums that I would never listen too over and over again. That left me with about 150 albums that I would listen to, well not that many, but plenty.  So the following is my honest and serious attempt to answer that seemingly harmless question.  These are entire albums that I could listen to from beginning to end everyday with out question.  Every song on these albums is perfect in every way.  Check’em out and listen for yourself.

Here they are in no particular order:

1.     Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.  This is hands down my favorite jazz album, which so happens to be the most popular jazz album ever recorded in the history of jazz, period.  With personnel like Cannonball Adderly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, and Bill Evans of course it’s perfect. (My favorite song on the Album: “So What”)

2.     Steely Dan’s Aja.  If you have not listened to this album I feel sorry for you. You need to experience the artistry and obsessive perfection of Donald Fagan and Walter Becker.  This is the best in sophisticated 70s jazz/rock.  I don’t know how else to explain it.  It’s musically complex yet highly accessible.  Since I’m a amateur musician and truly appreciate great musicianship, I’m drawn to this album by the personnel of Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour, Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, Joe Sample, Wayne Shorter, and Michael McDonald.  Special shout out to Al Schmitt et al for creating an engineering and recording musical masterpiece.  They set the standard with this album in recording excellence and have the Grammy to prove it. (My favorite song on the Album: “Black Cow”)

3.     Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall.  It’s Mike under the direction of Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton, with Louis Johnson, David Foster, George Duke, Pattie Austin, and the C-wind (Seawind) horns; shout out to horn arranger Jerry Hey. What else do you need me to say? (My favorite song on the Album: “Working Day and Night”)

4.     Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite (MTV Unplugged Live version). Neo soul at its finest.  Maxwell dives into these song off his first album in epic fashion.  How could he go wrong with writers such as Itaal Shur, Leon Ware, Stuart Matthewman, and Kate Bush, it’s perfect.  I love the freedom expressed in the live recording. (My favorite song on the Album: “Gotta Get: Closer”)

5.     Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein.  This album contains some of the funkiest soul re-dipped in funk that you have ever heard in your life.  Full of social messages and culturally valuable writers George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell nailed it.  Not to mention the voices of Glen Goins and Garry Shider are out of this world–these brothers blow in the most funkiest of ways. Special shout out to Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker.  (My favorite song on the Album: “I’ve Been Watching You (MoveYour Sexy Body”)

There you have it, my 5 albums that I could and will most certainly listen to for the rest of my life.  This was rough; because there are plenty more I could easily have listed.  But today, right now, this is it.

Whew! I have a headache!

Justsoulyouknow!

What are your 5?  Hey, hey, hey . . . . take your time. This is serious! Your Willy Nilly-ness could result in your early death!