The Jackson 5: ABC (Alternate Mix)
From I Want You Back!: Unreleased Masters (Motown, 2009)
As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of plans to plumb the depths of the J5 and MJ catalogs. I mentioned the Stripped Mixes a while back and I just got this new unreleased masters CD in the mail today.
Let me get the negative stuff out of the way first – in a few cases, I think the fact they went unreleased was probably justified insofar as the songs are kind of lackluster (“Love Comes In Different Flavors,” I’m looking at you!). However, for a J5/MJ music nerds, there’s some really fascinating stuff on here, including a medley that throws together “I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save” which is pretty much the hat trick of early J5 hits.
There’s also a cool alternate version of “Never Can Say Goodbye” which has some notable changes in the arrangement, especially a whole different passage after the second chorus, but the real stunning contrast is the alternate version of “ABC.” The music may sound alike but from the first stanza of verses, you can hear MJ take an entirely different approach to the vocal arrangement and check out the differences after the first chorus with the “la la las.”
The other huge song that people have been talking about is “Buttercup,” a Stevie Wonder-written/produced song that 1) totally sounds like a Stevie Wonder song (note: this is a great thing) and 2) gives you a window into a compellingly different sound for J5 compared to what Motown typically sent their way. I’d almost say the album is worth it just for “Buttercup” (it’s pretty damn good) but thankfully, there’s other strong material on here to sweeten the pot (check out “Listen, I’ll Tell You How”, an early J5 song from 1969).