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“There Was A Time (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5

Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)

Today’s Forum story:

James Brown. Jackie Wilson. Sly & the Family Stone. The Temptations. The Jackson 5 were deeply influenced by the grand R&B traditions of brilliant moves and close harmonies. Perhaps no one hit MJ as hard in his heart as James Brown, Soul Brother No. 1. You can see young MJ channeling JB in their Motown audition tape, where he’s singing The Man’s “I Got The Feelin’” and spinning like – well, like the future Michael Jackson.

 The JB influence hung heavy in the 1970 Forum show, mostly in the stage patter, some of which sounded appropriated from a couple of Brown live shows. The thread ran right through to “There Was A Time,” a JB jam spun out of his 1967 stage shows, which became best known in the recording from the Apollo Theater that year. The Jackson 5’s cover was a fascinating, surprising choice, since by then the original single version of the track was already more than two years old and hardly a pop tune accessible to the screaming audience at the J5 shows.

 But it gave the guys a chance to dance some more, and little Mike was more than up to the task; the performance also pointed to the similarity between it and the “shake it” break in “ABC.”

 We’d like to say, wow, they performed a tune live they hadn’t yet recorded. A poke in the vault shows that Motown producers cut for the Jackson 5 a studio track of “There Was A Time” – but, sorry fans, it was never finished, there are no vocals and isn’t really releasable.

Next time: The ‘Live at the Forum’ recap

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