Monday, June 29, 2009

Well, everyone seems to be weighing in on Michael Jackson so here are my few thoughts.  I think that Off The Wall was his best album by far.  A really talented artist still trying to be heard and great producer / arranger working on a record without any of the intense superstar / fame overhang.  When I interviewed Alex Chilton for the book we talked about how much we both liked the song Rock With Me (which Alex has been performing for years).  Alex thought it was written by someone from Earth Wind and Fire but I tipped him off that it was Rod Temperton from Heatwave (Rod also wrote the song "Thriller" – hope he kept most of the publishing!).  Alex was a little bemused that when he plays the song some people think he's making some kind of musical joke (the cool indie legend poking fun).  The real reason: "It's a great song."  

When Michael ordained himself the King of Pop it reminded me immediately of another charismatic business-savvy frontman: Mick Jagger.  When the Rolling Stones toured the US in late 1969 Mick insisted that Sam Cutler introduce them as "the worlds greatest rock and roll band" (as heard on the Get Your Ya-Yas Out LP).  You know, no one was really thinking about that stuff back then.  The "greatest" this or that.  The Stones were working their way back from a few down years and there were any of number of bands that could have said that about themselves.  The Who.  The Kinks.  Probably even Ten Years After or even Canned Heat.  The first band to claim it would have everyone nodding their (stoned) heads in agreement.  But the Stones (Mick) claimed it and it sure gave them the slack to get through an awful lot of crappy albums and concerts to this day.  So was Michael the King of Pop?  If he said so....I don't even know what that would mean.  I'll always dig the Jackson Five's "I Am Love"and Michael's Off The Wall...but certainly no more than Smokey, Marvin, and Stevie (none of whom never saw fit to deem themselves The King of Soul).  

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