Friday, January 20, 2017

"Farewell My Summer Love" by Michael Jackson

Song#:  1916
Date:  05/26/1984
Debut:  81
Peak:  38
Weeks:  12
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  By this point in time, Jackson had been anointed the King of Pop and pretty much anything that bore his name was gonna have a good chance of selling. Knowing this and smelling money in the air, Jackson's former label, Motown, decided to raid their vaults for any unused Jackson material. They ended up finding nine unreleased tracks from an abandoned 1973 album project and chose to package them for release. However, instead of just releasing the tracks in their original form, Motown decided to spruce them up with some 80s flourishes to make them sound more current (aka, they wanted them to sound like brand new songs). The tracks were bundled and released as the LP Farewell My Summer Love. Although the cover states "Never Before Available - from the Platinum Vaults of Motown," it was basically being hawked as new material. It really wasn't going to fool anyone, but kids clamoring for anything new from Jackson would most certainly take a look. And they did. This first single got issued and although it wasn't a big hit, it did find it's way into the Pop Top 40 (#20 AC/#37 R&B). It helped sell a few copies of the album in the US, but Motown was probably happier with the results in the UK where the single reached #7 and the album went gold.

ReduxReview:  This was a tremendously stupid idea and it just reeked of corporate greed. Motown was not the first, nor the last, entity to try and make a buck off of Jackson, but in a way it was one of the worst. I think it was a revenge tactic against Jackson for leaving the label and their way of letting him know that hey - you may have left, but we are still going to make as much money as we can from you. It was shameful. A smarter move would have been to do a kind of retrospective compilation of Jackson's Motown solo days and include these unreleased tracks in their original form. (Motown, in conjunction with the Hip-O label, did later release a 2009 compilation called Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection, which did just that.) Instead, we got tracks that Motown tried to "update" and sell as something new. Sad. Now, forgetting about how this song got released, the actual tune is not too bad. It has a breezy feel and it was recorded at a time when Jackson's voice was moving into adulthood. The problem is that it still sounds like a product of the 70s and very juvenile when put next to anything from Thriller. It was appropriate for Jackson in '73, but not in '84. It's a nice tune that ends up just being an interesting entry in Jackson's catalog. Definitely not essential.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Where did these tracks come from? Apparently, after Jackson's early 1973 album Music & Me was released, Motown had him back in the studio to record the follow-up. However, after the songs got recorded, The Jackson 5 (still featuring Michael) grabbed a surprise hit with "Dancing Machine" (#1 R&B/#2 Pop). With the family group hot again, Motown decided to hold up on Jackson's solo album and set it aside. Two years later, when Jackson was scheduled to do a solo disc, things had changed and it was decided that the old tracks would be ditched in favor of new ones. The ensuing LP, Forever, Michael, would be released in 1975. It would be his last effort for Motown. Four years later he was at Epic and riding high on the charts with Off the Wall. Jackson certainly was not happy with Motown's decision to issue the old material, but there was nothing he could do about it. The recordings were their property. The bummer about this single is that it put a dent in Jackson's run of Top 10 singles. It was the second time Motown did this (they issued the 1974 track "One Day in Your Life" right after the hits from Off the Wall). If you discount the two Motown cash-in singles, Jackson would have had a run of 17 Top 10 hits. The actual stopper would then have been "Another Part of Me," which peaked at the unfortunate #11 in 1988.


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