Saturday, March 11, 2017

"State of Shock" by The Jacksons

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  1966
Date:  06/30/1984
Debut:  30
Peak:  3
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Rock, R&B

Pop Bits:  The Jackson brothers had success in 1980 with their album Triumph. It was their first #1 album at R&B since 1971 and it got to #10 at Pop. It came on the heels of Michael Jackson's hit LP Off the Wall, which most likely helped. Flash forward a few years and Michael is on top of the world with Thriller. As that album was making a splash, the brothers appeared on the Motown 25 TV special. That reunion sparked the idea of the brothers doing another album and tour, which would work out well for all involved since Michael did not tour in support of Thriller and would most likely draw huge crowds. Wheels were set in motion, but when it came to recording the album, the brothers didn't necessarily work together. Each brother worked on their own song contributions to the album with little involvement from the others. The results were more like a collection of solo tracks as opposed to a full family band. Michael would co-write three songs and take the lead vocal on two of them, including this first single. The tune got some further star power when The Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger would come on board for a duet. The pair of superstars certainly drew attention and the single had a very high debut in the Top 30. It would make it to #3 at Pop and stay there for three weeks. It also got to #3 at Dance and #4 at R&B. The gold seller would drive the album to #4 Pop/#1 R&B. Over time it would go double-platinum.

ReduxReview:  I remember critics back then were not really all that hot on this song. The faux rock/blues jam with Jagger primping alongside Jackson wasn't wowing them. However, I liked the song. I thought it was a good fit for Jagger and Jackson's high-pitched wail worked fine, if a bit stiff compared to Jagger's looser style. Was it great? No. But it was fun and I still get a kick out of it. I might have preferred if the original duet partner, Freddie Mercury (see below), was on it and they perhaps took it in a more synthpop/dance groove. That might have been interesting. Still, this is still a pretty good oddball hit. It should be noted that this was Mick Jagger's highest peaking single outside of The Rolling Stones. None of his other solo or duet work would get to this mark.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This was one of three songs that Michael Jackson originally recorded with Queen's Freddie Mercury. There are a couple of stories on the reason behind the sessions. One is that the pair got together in an attempt to record a full duet album. The other is that these were songs that Jackson was considering for inclusion on Thriller. Perhaps it was a combo of both, but whatever the motivation, the three tracks ended up shelved. When Jackson wanted to revive "State of Shock" for Victory, Mercury was unavailable to finish the track so Jagger was brought on board instead. Another track, the Mercury-penned "There Must Be More to Life Than This" was recorded by Queen for their Hot Space LP, but was eventually excluded. It ended up being released on Mercury's 1985 debut solo album Mr. Bad Guy. The last track Jackson and Mercury recorded was called "Victory," which inspired The Jacksons' album title, but the song itself remains unreleased.


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