Jackson 5 | I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters

Motown/Universal (2009)
By MIKAEL WOOD  |  November 10, 2009
1.5 1.5 Stars

If you’ve ever wondered how great it might be to hear a slowed-down version of “ABC” that lacks all the youthful charm of the original, this set of previously unreleased Jackson 5 recordings is for you. Timed, we’re told, to the 40th anniversary of the family band’s debut single for Motown (uh, okay),

I Want You Back! feels a lot less useful than some of the other archival artifacts that have flooded record stores following Michael Jackson’s death this summer. As is often the case with this kind of from-the-vault collection, it isn’t hard to see why most of these tunes weren’t released in the first place: “That’s How Love Is” rides a bouncy beat but lacks a memorable hook, and “Love Comes in Flavors” never really sells its clunky candy-store metaphor. “Buttercup,” a funky psych-soul gem penned by Stevie Wonder, is the sole keeper, with a lovely African-inspired guitar line and juicy close-harmony vocals.

But it’s outweighed by shrugworthy stuff like a rendition of “Never Can Say Goodbye” recorded for TV appearances in case Michael lost his voice on the air. Yawn.

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