Today’s POP RESCUE from obscurity is the 17th (yes, 17th!) studio album from The Jacksons – 1984’s Victory on vinyl (for all its artwork splendour). Is this album sheer Torture, or should it reign victorious on your stereo? Read on…
This is the last album to feature Michael Jackson as the lead singer of the group, and was released just after he released the best-selling album of all time – Thriller.
The album opens with second single Torture, laden with futuristic synth stabs and guitar. Jermaine Jackson and Michael take it in turns to lead the vocals here. It has a great 80s sound, but the chorus feels a little too high pitch. This song comes complete with a great video, which just emphasises the creativity of The Jacksons, with some pretty cool 80’s special effects. Michael appears here only as a wax-work, perhaps suggesting the beginning of his departure from the group.
Up next, with a near-car hooter intro, is fourth and final single Wait. This reminds me musically a little bit at times of Flashdance…What A Feeling! by Irene Cara. This song is a great little bouncy number, which challenges anyone not to tap their foot or clap along. Jackie Jackson taking the lead, and his vocals feel perfectly paced to take this song along. There’s also some really nice vocal effects on him too.
One More Chance is up next – a slow ballad that’s solely written, produced and led by Randy Jackson. This is a great contrasting sound to the previous two. It’s a gentle song, and Randy’s soft vocals compliment it perfectly – delivering this song with great ease.
Acoustic guitar opens the final track on this first side – Be Not Always. This is Michael’s showcase, with his vocals pitched against the ongoing acoustic guitar and some strings. Sadly, his vocals remind me instantly of Robin the Frog, and Michael sings the word ‘always’ just too many times for my comfort. He also manages a near croak about 2/3rds of the way through. At times it feels a little like some kind of mock-Medieval song by the Muppets. I was glad it ended.
Side two opens with lead single State Of Shock, which features Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Sadly there’s no video for this (just this audio), and oddly it was released just one month before second single Torture. Thankfully though, this song picks up the pace perfectly, and Jagger and Michael work well in vocal duel. However, the song was not originally for Mick, instead the original recording was done with the late Freddie Mercury of Queen, but when he wasn’t able to complete the recordings, Mick Jagger took his place.
This is followed by We Can Change The World, which sees Tito Jackson take the lead vocals on this, his solo-penned track. There’s an almost Caribbean sound to this in the percussion. It’s quite a good little pop track, although Tito struggles with the vocal demands sometimes.
Opening with what sounds like the out-dated ring tone on my parents landline, it’s next song The Hurt. Randy takes the lead vocals here, but sadly he just feebly sounds like he’s reaching to a pitch that Michael could easily have delivered.
The album comes to a close with the sound of a giant gong, before a familiar Jackson screech ushers in the great 80s synth sounds of Body. Marlon Jackson takes the lead vocals here, and he’s probably the closest sounding to Michael’s vocals. ‘Girl I want your body, you know I love your body’ and ‘why don’t you come home with me?‘ he sings. This catchy pop gem would no doubt entice even the most resistant to his charms, I’m sure. The video also continues this sentiment, laden with gym-fit women and screaming fans. This is a great ending to the album.
Where are The Jacksons now?
This album was recorded as the group was clearly breaking up. The brothers were rarely in the studio together, and it kind of shows. Only two of the four singles had videos. Despite this, the full group found great success together on the Victory Tour.
The success of Thriller certainly ensured that he didn’t need to be anything but a solo album.
The group released a further album in 2300 Jackson Street in 1989, but whilst Michael and Marlon had left the group, they did appear on it. The album did not repeat the success of Victory.
The six brothers reunited in 2001 for two concerts, and whilst plans seemed to be a-foot by 2009 for more collaboration, plans were halted when Michael died.
The remaining Jackson brothers would go on to provide backing vocals to Michael’s posthumous song This Is It.
POP RESCUE RATING
With this many Jacksons involved (6 of them, in wonderful knitwear inside the gatefold sleeve), this album could have been a complete dog’s dinner, but thankfully it is not. Michael’s appearances here do not particularly shadow his brothers, and they’re allowed space to show off their abilities too.
Occasionally there’s a few misfires, and listening now 31 years later, you can forgive some of the slightly dated sounds which no doubt sounded super fresh at the time.
The album sourced upon release in the UK, and struck #4 in the USA, backed by an extensive Victory Tour, which included six Jackson brothers. The CD version has since been re-released in Japan.
It was rightfully named Victory. It is precisely that.
- POP RESCUE RATING: 4 / 5
- 1984 UK CHART POSITION: #3.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a British Heart Foundation store.