Friday, February 20, 2009

Collecting The Jacksons Music - pt. 3: The 90s To Today

Well, I have decided to write a third and final part to this odyssey called The Jackons and their music.

The 90s. The dawn of the CD era. Well, not really the dawn of it, but the decade where vinyl finally gasped what we all thought was its last breath and CDs took over. The decade where my interest in the Jacksons and their music died a slow death. It would take until 1993 before I finally called it quits. Until a few weeks ago, the last Jackson CD I bought was Michael’s History CD. The 90s were also the decade when Jermaine released his last album. With the departure of Jermaine from the scene, the only Jacksons left releasing new material were Michael, Janet, and LaToya (heaven help us). In fact, after 1995’s History, Michael pretty much vanished from the scene leaving just Miss Janet to carry on. Oh sure, we’d get one more album from Rebbie in 1998. Her album Yours Faithfully was released and to be perfectly honest, I never even heard about it.

A few more previously unreleased Jackson 5 tracks would finally be released. Mainly on the 25th Anniversary Soulsation 4 CD set. One other unreleased track, Who’s Loving You (Live) would get released on the TV soundtrack for The Jacksons: An American Dream mini series. The soundtrack also contained a couple of new Jermaine songs.

Since I wasn’t actively collecting much during this period, I think I will just list what was released and when. It will be much easier.

Dangerous (1991) – Michael Jackson’s eighth solo album (his 4th for Epic) and the last one to be released on commercially on vinyl. The vinyl copies were very limited and rather difficult to find. How I managed to get my hand on two copies, I don’t remember. I think one was a gift.

You Said (1991) – Jermaine Jackson’s last solo album to date. One interesting item was released from this album. The original version of the song Word To The Badd was released on CD single and Cassette single. This was the version where Jermaine vented his anger at Michael. Believe me, he really stuck it to him. Other than LaToya’s tell-all book, this was the first time that I can recall where one of the Jacksons aired their dirty laundry in public. It was at this point that I really started to get pissed at Jermaine as a person. It seemed that every time I turned on the TV, there was Jermaine shooting off his mouth about something. While I sort of agreed with what Jermaine had to say in the song, I just thought his motives for ‘leaking’ the original version to radio stations were rather petty. It was nothing more than a publicity stunt to generate press for Jermaine. His time to grab the spot light a bit at Michael’s expense.

No Relations (1991) – LaToya’s seventh solo album. Released on the heals of her tell-all book about her family. I was also getting pretty tired of see her face every time I turned on the TV. Most of the time, everything she said I just laughed my ass off. So, I guess I shouldn’t be so upset about the whole thing. LaToya did amuse me to a degree.

The Jacksons: An American Dream (1992) – The TV soundtrack for the mini series. I won’t even discuss my outrage over this sugary, sanitized and largely fabricated story of how the Jacksons came to the forefront of the music industry. The CD contained two new songs from Jermaine (one was a duet) and one previously unreleased live recording from The Jackson 5.

Formidable (1992) – LaToya’s eight solo album is released. By this point, LaToya had fallen off my radar and I didn’t even hear about this release.

janet. (1993) – Janet Jackson’s fifth solo album is released and her first for Virgin Records. There was a special 2 disc box set released at the same time. The second disc in the set contained a couple of unreleased songs and special versions of existing songs from the album. Starting with this album, Janet’s overseas releases would contain songs that were not released in the US. Of course this went unnoticed by me. A few of the singles released from this album also had B-side songs not found anywhere else.

Love's Alright (1993) - Eddie Murphy. Michael Jackson appears on the song Whatzupwitu.

From Nashville To You (1994) – LaToya’s ninth solo album is released. This was only available via mail order on the Internet. I did hear about this album, but had zero interest in it.

In 1995 I packed my bags and moved to San Francisco. The last CD of new Jacksons music I purchased prior to moving was Michael’s History CD.

HIStory (1995) – Michael Jackson’s ninth solo album is released. My final purchase of new material by any of the Jacksons for about five or six years. Also, Michael’s last album of the 20th Century.

25th Anniversary: Soulsation (1995) – The Jackson 5. A super 4 disc set covering the entire Motown years of The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson. The fourth disc consisted of several previously unreleased tracks. I did pick this one up since The Jackson 5 are my favorite and I really wanted the unreleased tracks. In fact, I would continue to purchase any Jackson 5 compilations that contained any new songs. They were just about the only Jackson music that I did attempt to keep up with.

Stop In the Name Of Love (1995) – LaToya’s tenth solo album. Another Internet only album and again unknown to me at the time. LaToya’s last album to date and her last album of the 20th Century.

Design Of A Decade (1995) – Janet Jackson’s first Greatest Hits compilation with two new songs.

The Jackson 5 – The Ultimate Collection (1996) – A new compilation of Jackson 5 songs from Motown. The CD contained the 96 mix to the song It’s Your Thing which had been unreleased until the release of the 25th Anniversary set.

The Velvet Rope (1997) – Janet Jackson’s sixth solo album. Once again, overseas versions (mainly Japan) contained songs to found on the US version. This was Janet’s final album of the 20th Century.

Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix (1997) - An album of remixes from Michael's HIStory ablum plus five new songs.

Yours Faithfully (1998) – Rebbie Jackson’s fourth and final album to date. Her last album of the 20th Century.

Anthology (2000) – The Jackson 5. A two disc set from Motown, once again covering The Jackson 5, Michael and Jermaine’s years at Motown. The interesting thing about this set was the inclusion for the first time on CD, the performance from The Hollywood Palace album, the B-side songs Love Song, I’m So Happy and the live version of Daddy’s Home from the (until then unknown to me) Live In Japan album.

So, we have come to the last to the 21st Century. It would take another nine years, but eventually I would revisit the Jacksons and their music and attempt to get caught up. While I would purchase Michael and Janet CDs, anything by Rebbie or LaToya I didn’t feel the need to try and find. I just really wasn’t interested. Maybe someday I will go back and get these CDs, but for now I’m content to just continue with Michael and Janet.

Invincible (2001) – Michael Jackson’s first new album in six years. While it did sell well at first, it pretty much sank like a stone here in the US.

All For You (2001) – Janet Jackson’s seventh solo album and the first with a Parental Advisory sticker on the cover. Once again, Japan versions with songs not on the US version.

Number 1s (2003) – Michael Jackson’s compilation of his number one hits. The CD would contain one new song and a live version of the song Ben.

Ultimate Collection (2004) – Michael Jackson. A five disc set that spanned Michael entire career and contained several previously unreleased songs. This would be the final release of any Michael Jackson material until the 25th Anniversary Edition of Thriller.

Damita Jo (2004) – Janet Jackon’s eighth solo album. Again, Japan release would contain songs not found on the US version.

20 Y.O (2006) – Janet Jackson’s ninth solo album. Again, Japan release would contain songs not found on the US version.

Discipline (2008) – Janet Jackson’s tenth solo album. Again more bonus tracks not found the US edition.

Also in the new century, Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad would be released as Special Edition CDs with previously unreleased tracks. In 2008, Thriller would once again get re-released. This time in a 25th Anniversary Edition with more previously unreleased tracks. There is also a rumor about a 30th Anniversary Edition of Off The Wall with previously unreleased tacks.

Destiny and Triumph would get Special/Anniversary Editions on CD with bonus tracks. Mainly the bonus tracks consisted of the long out of print 12” disco mixes for certain songs.

To finally round out this blog, it should be mentioned that Janet Jackson has appeared on no less than six additional albums. Two movie soundtracks, and four Rap artists albums. Those albums and songs are as follows:

The Best Things In Life Are Free (1992) - Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross from the movie soundtrack Mo' Money.

Luv Me, Luv Me (1998) - Janet Jackson and Shaggy from the movie soundtrack How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Also appears on Shaggy's album Mr. Lover Lover - The Best Of Shaggy part 1.

What's It Gonna Be?! (1999) - Janet Jackson with Busta Rhymes from the album Extinction Level Event.

Girlfriend/Boyfriend (1999) - Janet Jackson with Blackstreet from the album Finally.

Feel It Boy (2002) - Janet Jackson with Beenie Man from the album Tropical Storm.

Don't Worry (2005) - Janet Jackson with Chingy from the album PowerBallin.

In conclusion I’d just like to say that the lessons that I learned during my intense ten years of active collecting Jacksons music helped in other areas of collecting. I had to learn patience to start with. While I knew about certain items that did exist, I learned that I just couldn’t run right out and find them at my local used record store. I also learned the value of thorough research. If it hadn’t been for certain books on Michael Jackson that were released at the height of the Thriller period, I might not have ever discovered that certain recordings existed. This skill would continue to help me with other collecting obsessions like my involvement in Rocky Horror. My Rocky Horror collection at the time was the only thing that could rival my Jacksons collection. While I no longer have the Rocky Horror collection, I do still have my Jacksons collection. Lastly, the biggest thing I learned while collecting the Jacksons: When find what you’re looking for, buy it right then and there. Do not under any circumstances walk away and hope it will be there the next time you return. Chances are it won’t be.

Today’s collecting market is so much easier than it was in the 80s. With the advent of the Internet and the launch of eBay collectors have a vastly easier time than I had in the 80s and early 90s. Today you just need to pull up eBay, sit back and start your search. Now, thanks to eBay, I consider my collection complete up to 1995. Through eBay I was able to go back and fill in the few missing pieces for my collection that I had been searching for. Things like the Hollywood Palace album, the Steeeltown singles, the Japan Live album, the couple of Jermaine’s singles that I either couldn’t find (that had non album B-sides) or had to purchase on cassette single and the few CD singles (like Jermaine’s Word To The Badd) that I had not been able to locate when they came out. So, thanks to eBay, I now consider my collection complete up to and including the year 1995. However, that only includes the music from the brothers. I still do not have each and everyone of LaToya’s albums nor do I have Rebbie’s last album. I also do not have any of the import versions of Janet’s albums with the extra songs. In the new century, I guess I’ve decided to only keep up with just so much Jackson music. I know that several things have been leaked through the Internet. Jackson 5 songs that remain unreleased but have somehow found there way to the Internet and into the hands of collectors. Several songs by Michael have also been leaked. There are Internet only songs that have been released for download. None of this stuff really interests me all that much. Like I said, I consider my collection complete to a point. Let others have their fun with that stuff. I’m out of the picture. Now, if Motown does finally get around to releasing anything that they may have sitting in their vaults (or even CBS for that matter) I would, of course, purchase it.

Additionally, with the take over of CDs, several previously hard to find stuff (or things that had only been available on vinyl) has turned up. Like the Hollywood Palace performance. I’m sure that most collectors out there have one or more of the CDs that were released of the Steeltown songs. I know that I have two different ones myself. I believe that if these CDs had never been released, then I would have paid well over $100.00 each for those singles on eBay. As it was, I did manage to snatch up all four of them for less than $50.00 each. Now, once again those singles are going up in price. And speaking of the Steeltown singles. I’ve noticed something very, very odd about them. How on Earth did so many of these wind up in England? These singles were released locally in the Gary, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois areas in 1968. I mean, I made several pilgrimages to the Gary and the surrounding area in the 80s just to look for them and never turned up a thing. Well, I did find a used record store that at one time the manager had them and made a tape of the A-sides for the three singles and sold that to customers. Other than that, nothing so much as a whisper about those singles. I still don’t understand how so many of these singles found their way to England? Certainly odd that.

So, to any future Jackson collectors I wish you luck. I hope these three articles have been helpful and informative. There is a TON of music out there to find. Some easy. Some not so easy. Have patience and most importantly, have fun. Half the fun of collecting is the hunt. Not the having.

For an article that started out being about just the music and how to spot original release copies of the early albums, it somehow became about my 10 year quest to complete my collection. Odd that.

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