45 Years Ago: Jackson 5 Release ‘ABC’ Album

Sources: Boombox | All Things Michael

jackson 5

It may have looked as easy as “ABC,” but the Jackson 5 — Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon, Michael, and Tito — were working extraordinarily hard in 1970. Immediately after scoring their debut No. 1 hit “I Want You Back” then releasing their Top 10 debut album Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, the boys from Indiana were back in the studio, toiling for the Motown factory and its constant desire for new music.

The debut LP had only hit shelves just before Christmas 1969 and “I Want You Back” had topped the charts a month later, but the Jacksons were back in February, releasing their next soon-to-be hit single. As with the band’s first smash, “ABC” was written by The Corporation. This collective of writers and producers included Alphonzo Mizell, Freddie Perren, Deke Richards and Motown head honcho Berry Gordy. They would be responsible for nearly all of the brothers’ big hits in the ’70s.

“ABC” was crafted in the shadow of “I Want You Back,” with the new single’s verses loosely following the pattern of the first hit’s choruses. The sound-alike qualities of the song proved only to be a benefit. Before long, the single also rose to the top of the charts, knocking the Beatles’ “Let it Be” from the No. 1 spot (which has been perceived as a passing of the torch from one generation of pop stars to the next).

Of course, at the center of all of this remained the Jackson 5′s lead singer. Little Michael Jackson was only 11 at the time, yet he wasn’t merely a novelty. Michael sang with the conviction — the soul — of an adult musician, even when he was belting goofy school-related similes for romance.

On the heels of the smashing success of “ABC,” the Jacksons released their second album, also titled ABC, on May 8, 1970. This release arrived just six months after their first LP. Like the group’s debut, the album featured a smattering of Motown covers (as well as songs made famous by Funkadelic and the Delfonics). A listen through the 12 tracks on the project also finds their take on two Stevie Wonder songs: “Don’t Know Why I Love You” and “Never Had a Dream Come True.”

In addition to covers, the effort also featured a fair amount of new material from the Corporation, which has made ABC (arguably) the band’s most consistent album. One of the Corporation’s ditties was album-opener “The Love You Save.” Michael and Jermaine shared lead vocals, while Marlon, Jackie and Tito provided the background, on the single that was released just after the album came out. It wasn’t only the band’s third single; it was their third No. 1.

The group’s streak of hitting the top of the charts would continue through 1970, which would see the release of two more full-length Jackson 5 albums and one more blockbusting chart-topper. Jackson mania was in full force.

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