The Music: Through the Years, He Crossed Generational Lines
The Music: Through the Years, He Crossed Generational Lines

Friday, June 26, 2009

Concerts by the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson were met with tumultuous welcome in Washington. Here's a sampling of The Post's coverage of those visits, along with reviews of some of Jackson's albums.

July 19, 1971: University of Maryland

"Bring on the Jackson 5." "We Want the Jackson 5," insisted the audience.

The lights flickered, and there was a huge, cacophonous roar. A roar that only 15-year-olds can deliver. The screams drowned out what must have been the loudest music in the Washington area on Saturday night. The screams didn't stop and neither did the music, for a solid hour.

Girls who had collected all the Jackson 5's singles, all of their albums, and as many of their pictures as they could, fainted. Others shook in their seats. More just screamed, but a large number were hypnotized.

When it was over, they pronounced it "dynamite" and "together." They didn't demand an encore, for they and the Jackson 5 had done it all.

Five brothers, sons of a Gary, Ind., factory worker, the Jackson 5 are to young blacks today what the Beatles were to young whites in the '60s.

-- Richard E. Prince

Dec. 29, 1973: Capital Centre

The Jackson 5, who became six with the addition of 12-year-old brother Randy earlier this year, attracted a heavy preteen and toddler crowd, 10,000-strong, to Largo's Capital Centre last night.

It was largely a family affair: mothers and fathers with kids in tow. Timothy Dingle of Washington explained that he had brought his 2-year-old, Lawrence, along because "he loves the 5's records." And when the group finally came onstage at about 9:45 p.m., Lawrence could be seen bouncing on his father's knee.

Lavon Parker, 10, said she came because "I really like Michael Jackson, the way he sings."

"Yeah, she's in love with him," interjected her younger brother. "Shoot, the way he sings . . ."

-- Tom Zito

Dec. 16, 1982: "Thriller" review

Over the years, Jackson's range has dropped and his songs have grown more sophisticated, but he's never lost the giddy optimism of an 11-year-old who believes the main purpose in the world is fun. That giddiness is the secret ingredient that makes Jackson's "Thriller" this year's best serving of adolescent pop.

While Jackson has retained an authentic adolescent spirit, his new musical maturity only makes his youthful ebullience all the more convincing. His funky, stuttering syncopation on "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' " propels his brash warning to the gossips who "got my baby cryin'." Jackson's own multitracked vocals and horn arrangements build the song to a feverish delirium. On the other hand, his carefully understated voice and softly echoing harmonies on "Human Nature" capture the weary loneliness of a young man taking a solitary midnight walk.

Jackson gets some big help from selected guests. Eddie Van Halen, the ultimate adolescent guitar hero, bolsters the tension and resentment of "Beat It" with a buzzing solo. It's impressive that Jackson can still sound young and innocent at 24; even more impressive is that Paul McCartney sounds that way at 40 on "The Girl Is Mine." With Jackson singing high and McCartney singing low, these two grand pop voices blend luxuriously and engage in some funny one-upmanship at the close of this hit single.

-- Geoffrey Himes

Oct. 14, 1988: Capital Centre

Michael Jackson is the Body Electric.

At Capital Centre last night, he proved so interesting to watch that he could have sounded like Tiny Tim and nobody would have complained. Well, almost nobody, and since he sounded just like Michael Jackson, it all worked out in the end.

For all the good singing -- and there was plenty of that -- it always seems to come back to movement and emotion with Jackson. He is a dancer beyond compare, the embodiment of the perpetual motion principle, seemingly boneless, with lubricating oil in his veins. This is a man with more moves in a night than Nationwide has in a year. You could hate him, but you couldn't take your eyes off him.

And for two hours, the full house in Landover didn't, as Jackson ran around the open, uncluttered stage and through 17 songs -- most of them No. 1 hits from his "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" albums. There were a few bows to the Jackson 5 era via "the old-fashioned songs done the old-fashioned way" (with the same old-fashioned intro, as a matter of fact), but the night was above all a celebration of the Jackson liberation in the early '80s.

-- Richard Harrington

June 18, 1995: "HIStory"

The test of "HIStory" is not its past hits but its present contenders. As he did on "Dangerous," Michael Jackson hedges his bets by bringing in some special guests -- Boyz II Men, rapper Notorious B.I.G., Shaquille O'Neal, R. Kelly, the Andrae Crouch Singers, guitarist Slash (who also guested on the previous album) and, most notably, sister-superstar Janet, who last worked with her brother singing backup on 1982's "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)."

But on the "Scream" single, Janet is featured far less than she is in the video, flattened in the mix. The song itself is dull and musically uninvolving. It also sounds dated, like a meld of Michael's "Jam" from "Dangerous" and all too many of the martial funk tunes Janet has recorded with the song's producers and co-writers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jackson himself serves up a little rap on "Money," which has a hint of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (money, one supposes) and features an aggressive beat and guitar from Nile Rodgers. But does the world need another warning about the perils of money and what people will do for it, particularly from a very rich man?

-- Richard Harrington

Oct. 31, 2001: "Invincible"

After so many artists zigged in his footsteps, Jackson badly needed to zag in a new direction. "Invincible" doesn't do that. This is a familiar-feeling collection of smooth ballads and mid-tempo dance tunes, with special emphasis on these topics of choice: His love for the ladies, his fears for the children and his fervent hope that all you haters will back the hell up and give him some space.

-- David Segal

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