We’ve taken a short break from giving you some of the best & cheesiest from the 80s, but now we’re back, and cheesier than ever, thanks to the kids of Joe & Katherine.
Those of you who were around in the Eighties are well aware that Michael and Janet weren’t the only Jackson family members that made music that decade. Matter of fact, every Jackson sibling with the exception of Tito recorded a solo album in the Eighties, and while most of them weren’t exactly what you would call successful, they’ve created plenty of unforgettable (and by unforgettable I mean painful to watch) Eighties moments.
Let’s start with Jermaine. Michael’s most vocal critic, Jermaine was actually the second most successful Jackson until “Control” lifted Janet into the stratosphere. He stayed at Motown when the family group left in the mid-Seventies, and had a handful of hits before switching over to Arista Records in 1983 (Clive Davis apparently wanted some of that Jackson magic for himself). His first album for the label was a self-titled affair, which went Platinum on the strength of songs like “Do What You Do”, “Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin'” (a duet on which Michael blows his big brother out of the water), and “Dynamite”, which boasts one of the decade’s campiest videos-obviously a “Beat It”/”Thriller” ripoff, but then imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? In later years, Jermaine would get notoriety for everything from doing duets with Pia Zadora (!) to being the first artist signed to LaFace Records to marrying the ex-wife of his brother Randy (!!!).
Janet wasn’t the first Jackson sister to hit the charts. LaToya beat Janet by about two years by scoring minor hits with “If You Feel the Funk” and “Night Time Lover” (which Michael wrote and produced). Although she wouldn’t become really well-known until she showed her funbags to the world in a Playboy pictorial, ‘Toya recorded 4 or 5 albums over the course of the decade, including her 1988 album, which featured the Full Force-produced single “You’re Gonna Get Rocked”. Look at ‘Toya trying to be the bad-ass!! Nude Playboy pictorials? Full Force production? Who knew LaToya and Samantha Fox had so much in common?
LaToya’s big sister Rebbie (who was actually the oldest of the Jackson siblings) was the last to get into music-making, not recording an album until Michael-mania was in full swing. Initially, she was the most successful of the sisters, scoring a Top 40 hit in 1984 with “Centipede”, which, if you can’t tell from the screeching falsetto in the chorus, was written and produced by Michael. Can anyone tell me what the hell this song is about? (as I’m watching this video, I’m listening to the lyrics and OK, I kinda get it now…)
Eventually, the brothers (besides Jermaine) decided to get into the solo action themselves. Jermaine left The Jackson 5 in 1976, but the second brother to leave the group wasn’t Michael, but his older (by one year) brother Marlon. The (naturally) light-skinded Jackson brother scored a #2 R&B hit back in ’87 with “Don’t Go”. Marlon dances his natural ass off in this video. This song should have been a bigger hit, but there have been rumors floating around forever that Mike blackballed his brothers, preventing them from having any success that could potentially outshine his own. Insecurity, my friends. It’s a bad thing. Check out the Janet-esque backflip Marlon does in the video.
Finally, Michael’s younger brother Randy (often described as the most musically talented of the brothers) formed a group called The Gypsys at the tail end of the Eighties and released one self-titled album (that I am the proud owner of…took me forever to find it too). Randy’s sound was a bit more on the funk/new jack swing side of things, and he had a couple of minor hits with “Perpetrators” and “Love You Honey”. Here’s the video for the latter. Dig the 1989-era fashions! Yes, young uns, we used to dress like that. I know I did.
None of the “other” siblings has made much noise since the early Nineties, and although Tito’s kids have recorded several album as 3T (group member Taj Jackson has become a successful songwriter, working with the Stargate/Ne-Yo camp), it looks like we’re safe from an invasion of the 2nd generation Jacksons. After seeing these videos, are you sad about that or a little grateful?