The Jackson 5 / The Jacksons / Michael Jackson

The Jacksons Story: Number 1's

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Who could have guessed it? Gladys Knight and Diana Ross caught a sibling singing group from Gary, Indiana while on the road, told Motown prexy Berry Gordy that he should check them out, and Gordy signed them to a record deal in 1969. Only a fool would have dared imagine Gordy and his friends had stumbled upon an act that would redefine the sound of R&B in both the '70s and the '80s, but that's just what happened when the Jackson 5 burst onto the pop and R&B charts at the dawn of the '70s. And it happened again when Michael Jackson redefined himself as a solo act with 1979's Off the Wall, a success that seemed boundary-shattering until 1982's Thriller showed all bets were off for the extent of his talent and popularity. While Thriller would dwarf the previous accomplishments of Michael and his brothers and cast a shadow over their history, there's no denying that the wildly energetic pulse of the early Jackson 5 hits made them overnight stars for the best reason -- they were just that good and that fun -- and even if inspiration sometimes waned through the '70s, their skills did not, and it was the fire and imagination of the Jacksons' Destiny in 1978 (and the singles "Blame It on the Boogie" and "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground") that truly paved the way for Off the Wall and Thriller. Summing up the story of the Jackson brothers in 20 tracks is essentially impossible, but Number 1's: The Jacksons Story is a remarkably well-chosen anthology that draws an effective road map of their career (both as a group and as solo artists) from their first Motown hit ("I Want You Back") to one of Thriller's most iconic tracks ("Billie Jean"). Number 1's also features material from the Jackson 5 recordings for Motown as well as the Jacksons' sides for Epic, offering a fuller and more accurate picture of their accomplishment than most anthologies on the market, and dips into the early solo career of Michael (the treacly "Ben" proves he was a thorough pro at the age of 14) as well as Jermaine (represented by the Stevie Wonder-produced "Let's Get Serious"), concluding with Michael's arrival at the peak of superstardom. There's more of a story to tell after this collection comes to a close, but that's clearly the work of another album; as an introduction to one of the most important and influential R&B acts of their era, Number 1's: The Jacksons Story is about as good as it gets.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:59
3 3:04
4 3:56
5 3:10
7 3:24
10 2:37
11 3:34
12 3:25
13 5:27
14 3:30
15 3:46
16 3:45
17 4:50
18 3:51
19 6:04
20 4:53
blue highlight denotes track pick