Ever the savvy multimedia imprint, Motown Records prepared this long-player to coincide with the Jackson 5's hour-long Goin' Back to Indiana prime-time ABC special in September of 1971. With the exception of a few skits featuring the likes of Bobby Darin as a used car salesman and Diana Ross, who is credited simply as "the Pregnant Lady," the album includes some of the less visually dependent material. The first half of the program was a buildup to the "homecoming" concert. That Gary, Indiana performance was held on May 29, 1971, and highlights were excerpted in the final portion of the television show. The long-player replicates that concept, with side one boasting guest shots from Bill Cosby as roving reporter Scoopp Newsworthy and Tommy Smothers as "the Crimson Ghost," an adversary for Tito Jackson's race-car fantasy sequence. Perhaps most impressive is the all-star basketball "dream team" with Elgin Baylor, Ben Davison, Elvin Hayes, and Bill Russell. The latter can be heard during the recitation of "The Day Basketball Was Saved" as the NBA legends go head to head with the Jacksons. Although not documented in front of an audience, the "rehearsal" versions of "I Want You Back" and "Maybe Tomorrow" sport fresh lead vocals over the top of the familiar instrumental backing. Every one of the live cuts crackles with a practically palpable energy, especially the covers of Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand!," the reworking of Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright," and the piledriving title track "Goin' Back to Indiana."
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer