GOT TO BE THERE will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the very first album I ever purchased when I was a little kid...the VERY FIRST!! I was already a die-hard J-5 fan by 1971, and as hard as it was to save my allowance to buy GOT TO BE THERE, it was worth every penny! It still is.
Michael Jackson...my first crush, the first singer that really and truly moved me because he was only a few years older than I was, and this was his first solo album!! Forget what SOME people will say about OFF THE WALL being Mike's first outing away from the Jacksons (or should I say the Jackson 5, as they were still being called in 1971). Those people obviously don't know anything about the solo career MJ had on Motown; they simply group his solo work with that of his brothers - which there is nothing wrong with that, but Mike DID do solo work. So what if his brothers were singing background on those solo cuts?
Anyway, "Got To Be There" was Michael's first solo single, and his first hit. The rest of the album does not disappoint. All of the soul, passion and energy that was evident on MJ's J-5 work is present here: From the breathtaking reworking of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" to the funky remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin", to the James Taylor classic "You've Got a Friend", the young Michael displays an amazingly mature vocal style that only showcases what would come in later years for him. One should not dismiss this as just another "bubble gum" pop/soul offering from a kiddie artist, which at the time, the industry seemed to be overrun with them (i.e. Donny Osmond, Foster Sylvers, Chee Chee and Peppy, etc.). It was, and still is, appealing to adults as well. Everything on this album (CD) clicks. Anytime I want to take a trip down memory lane, I play this and remember how much I loved Michael back then.
Standouts are "Maria (You Were The Only One)", "Girl Don't Take Your Love From Me", "Wings of My Love", "In Our Small Way" and Mike's second hit, "I Wanna Be Where You Are", but like I said, everything is enjoyable on it. Michael Jackson is a legend! No matter how history may try to smear his image or what he has done to himself over his adult years, NOTHING can change the fact that he was/is a remarkable talent. He made wonderful music, influenced and inspired millions of kids over three generations. GOT TO BE THERE is where it all began. It's a true classic, a must have.