“It’s Your Thing (Live at the Forum)” – Jackson 5
Excerpt from Live at the Forum – Disc 1 (1970)
Today’s Forum Story:
In 1970, with Jacksonmania exploding, the group had to tour, although the need to get out on the road overwhelmed the actual material available to perform – by the spring of 1970 the J5 had, what, two albums? So their set list, highlighted by already classic hits, was filled out with not just album tracks but quite a few cover tunes they hadn’t released themselves, including this one, a No. 1 smash by the Isley Brothers from the year before. The clip starts just after the first bit of stage dialogue, where MJ has been cracking on the musicians. (That’s Marlon with Michael.)
The Isley’s original version had peaked in April-May 1969. That is just about the time the J5 were beginning their first recording dates at Motown Records, in Detroit, at Studio A, under the watchful eye of their Motown tutor Bobby Taylor and with the Funk Brothers backing them up. (“It’s Your Thing,” coincidentally, was by all accounts a response to the restrictive atmosphere the Isleys felt they were under while signed to Motown.) The song became part of the J5’s repertoire, a showcase for Michael and Marlon to dance and jive on stage; they were seen performing the song in August ’69 during the (rarely) televised Miss Black America pageant.
Bobby Taylor, seemingly ousted from the group’s production team by that time, returned to an L.A. studio in Feb. 1970 to produce a studio version of “It’s Your Thing” – a super funky cut that, despite being in the Jackson 5’s stage show for a while, stayed in the vault for 25 years. And this live version is being heard for the first time in 40 years!
Tomorrow: MJ channels Bill Withers in a stunning moment from the album