I had mixed feelings when Michael Jackson died. Sure, I was bummed out—the world lost a great talent, all those amazing songs, blah, blah, blah—but I was also happy that People magazine was finally going to give these bozos a rest and put someone else on the cover. (I mean, really, they had, like four covers in a row. And yeah, I read People. My wife subscribes, and when it’s sitting around the house, it’s impossible to resist.)
The best thing to come of Michael’s passing—for me—was the rediscovery and discovery of so much great Jackson 5 and Jacksons material. (They were known as the Jacksons after their departure from Motown in 1975.) There are two LPs in particular, Destiny (1978) and Triumph (1980), that are electrifying late-era disco/hardcore R&B, and they’ll definitely be topics of later posts.
But right now I’d like to highlight the LP The Jacksons Live!, recorded in September, 1981, for the Triumph tour. This is one of those CDs that when I finally heard it—which was only last June—I wondered, “How come no one’s ever mentioned this to me?! How come I’ve never seen this on any ‘Great Live LPs’ lists?! If I had known about this, I would have been listening to it regularly for the last three decades!” Tomorrow I’ll write more about the LP itself, but today I want to draw attention to one song: “She’s Out of My Life.”
Many people my age reading this remember Eddie Murphy’s 1983 Delirious special on HBO. It was incredibly influential—for better or worse—on all of my peers (we’re still screaming, “The Ice Cream Man is coming!!!!”), and his bit on Michael Jackson helped formed the basis of our opinion of Michael in the 80s. Well, now after hearing this live LP from the Jacksons, I’m fairly certain this is what Eddie used as the basis of his impersonation. When I heard Michael sing this song, I had a major shock, one of those moments where something from you youth finally makes sense, when all the pieces fall into place.
I’ll let you decide. (BTW, keep in mind that in this video clip, whenever you hear Michael, it’s from the aforementioned live recording; the video, however, is from his 1979 video for the song, hence the sloppy synch.)