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Thread started 10/17/20 2:10pm

HAPPYPERSON

The Jacksons’ ‘Triumph’ Turns 40 | Anniversary Retrospective

Albumism_TheJacksons_Triumph_MainImage_16x9.jpg?format=1000w
Happy 40th Anniversary to The Jacksons’ fourteenth studio album Triumph, originally released October 18, 1980.
By any band’s fourteenth album, it’s understandable if some of the passion is waning. For The Jacksons however, Triumph found them at their artistic apex, marking only the second time in their career when they were given full writing and production freedom.
The story is well known. Black family group from Gary, Indiana defy expectations and enjoy immense success at Motown as the groundbreaking The Jackson 5 driven by wunderkind little brother Michael. A ride of chart domination follows as the band become a major cog in the Motown machine. But as their success waxed and waned in the later years of their Motown tenure, the brothers looked for greater independence, looking to write and produce their own material.
And so in 1976, The Jacksons (as they rebranded themselves) were reborn on CBS Records and released two albums before they were given total creative freedom and control on their landmark Destiny album, released in 1978.
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As the brothers returned to the studio to embark on the follow-up effort, the world around them had shifted greatly. Releasing his first adult solo album, Michael Jackson dominated the airwaves with his 1979 Off The Wall LP (you may have heard of it). Buoyed by the success of Destiny and the domination of Off The Wall, the pressure was on for The Jacksons to deliver an album that built on the momentum.
And so the brothers gathered and recorded an album that would see them all contribute with brothers Jackie, Marlon, and Randy all taking a turn behind the mic (Mike?!?!) and Tito in the prime of his guitar playing and songwriting, contributing the dreamy funk of “Everybody” (co-written with Michael and bassist Mike McKinney).
But with Michael contributing vocals on the majority of the tracks and writing or co-writing six of the nine songs, and in the afterglow of Off The Wall, his creative energy is the main guiding force on Triumph as evidenced best in the opening track.
“Can You Feel It” is as bombastic as a gospel-club track can be. With horns heralding its arrival, a 30-piece choir bellowing and an incessant groove holding it down, “Can You Feel It” is a joyous moment of unity and hope set for a new chapter in The Jacksons career, but also for a new decade.
With Randy and Michael trading vocals, the song opens up with soul and passion. Each passing bar builds to a unifying crescendo that is hard to not get caught up in. And every time Michael comes in with the pre-chorus, the track just lifts to another level. With its thumping funk groove and momentum-building string and horn arrangement, “Can You Feel It” ends up equal parts party tune and song of social consciousness.
Produced with purpose and scale, the song takes on the feel of a pulsing movie score complete with orchestral arrangement, triumphant horns, ringing bells and booming tympanies — not your run-of-the-mill instruments for an R&B and soul band.
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This sense of drama is present on another album highlight, the—for all intents and purposes— solo track Michael penned, produced and arranged: “This Place Hotel” (renamed from “Heartbreak Hotel” to avoid possible confusion with Elvis Presley’s chart topper).
The high-concept track begins with a sorrowful string prelude before switching to a shuffling jazz-funk fusion. Cinematic in its production with sound effects and blood-curdling scream courtesy of sister La Toya, “This Place Hotel” takes on a larger-than-life quality and is filled with the layering of stalking bass lines, stabbing horns and attacking strings. As his most ambitious undertaking to date, “This Place Hotel” is a key moment in Michael’s creative development and acts as the precursor to the more cinematic offerings he would dish out later in his career.
Drama is also centerstage in the Jackie and Randy penned ballad, the aching “Time Waits For No One.” The sparse arrangement allows for Michael to bring warmth and longing to the song, building his delivery through sorrow to hope to despair, as he ignites the final lines while the song kicks it up a notch and those lush Jacksons harmonies take flight.
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Overall though, the album is filled with energy and an upbeat feel. Tracks like the clubby euphoria of “Walk Right Now” to the laid-back funk of “Everybody” and the blissful heartache of the fiery “Your Ways” ensure you keep vibing and moving with every passing minute.
And if any track was set to triumph on the dancefloors, it had to be “Lovely One.” Written by Michael and Randy, it rivals Destiny’s breakout “Shake Your Body Down (To The Ground)” for the title of funkiest Jacksons track. With hints of Off The Wall’s sonic tapestry, “Lovely One” comes galloping out of the gate with horns blazing and doesn’t let up. Scratching guitar work, accenting strings and Michael’s vocals all help to scoop the listener up and carry them away on this funk odyssey.
Michael’s deliberate play with the amount of air around the vocals adds to the momentum of the groove, whilst the pre-chorus delivery is so frenetic, it feels like the beat is playing catch-up. “Lovely One,” like the song’s object of desire, leaves you wanting more. The mark of a great song.
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Perhaps the surprise of the album is the mid-tempo, Randy and Michael penned “Give It Up” which blends pop and R&B in a perfectly crafted tune. With Michael singing in his higher register in the verses and Marlon offering a deeper contrast in the pre-chorus, the song offers the foundation for Michael to soar even higher in the chorus as strings swirl and pining guitar aches around him. Through the extended outro, the composition and production signal Michael and Randy’s ability to reach beyond a typical R&B structure and take a further confident stride in a musical journey that would cross genres and styles like never before.
Album closer “Wondering Who” (written by Jackie and Randy) features Jackie on lead vocals, as it offers a healthy serving of smooth funk that is the perfect winddown to the funk workout Triumph offers. In the final moments of the song, Michael returns to the mic, offering some soon-to-be trademark “hee hee hee” ad-libs that would set the world afire on his next musical outing.
Following on from what many consider the perfect party album, Off The Wall, Triumph keeps the vibe going and even has the audacity to improve on it. Filled with an endless flow of grooves and energy, Triumph is the crowning moment in the brothers’ catalogue, both artistically and commercially. It is sadly the last time the brothers worked with Michael as a true collective (rather than a patchy collection of solo works a la 1984’s Victory). Moreover, the less precious concerns about who sings on what and who writes what has the album rise to the challenge of building on both the trajectory of Destiny and Off The Wall.
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Of course, with the global success of Michael’s next release Thriller (1982), the musical landscape would shift once more and things would never be the same. Whilst The Jacksons would go on to record several more albums with decreasing involvement by Michael and a return to the fold by Jermaine, it’s this Destiny-Triumph era that is their strongest. And when you place it in the context of an artistic run for Michael from Destiny (1978) Off The Wall (1979) Triumph (1980) Thriller (1982) and Victory (1984) with its groundbreaking tour, it is without doubt his most prolific and critically rewarding span.
With the success of Thriller, it’s easy for Triumph to get lost in its larger-than-life shadow. But it more than deserves its time in the spotlight once more.
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Reply #1 posted 10/17/20 3:01pm

alphastreet

Love this album! Totally deserves al the praise in this article. It’s a good mashup of what they did with destiny and off the wall, yet still fresh. I just knew can you feel it and this place hotel in the 90s, but bought the album in 2002 and loved it!
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Reply #2 posted 10/17/20 6:12pm

RODSERLING

IMHO, Destiny and Triumph are better than Off The Wall and Thriller.
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Reply #3 posted 10/17/20 7:55pm

Dalia11

I like all the Jackson 5 songs and Michael Jackson songs!
😃 ⭐💿🎸🎤💿
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Reply #4 posted 10/17/20 8:44pm

alphastreet

RODSERLING said:

IMHO, Destiny and Triumph are better than Off The Wall and Thriller.


I felt that way at one point, and actually had bought destiny and triumph before off the wall, which didn’t grab me right away in the first listen like the two did
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Reply #5 posted 10/17/20 10:20pm

Superstition

avatar

This was THE album. The first and last album where Mike was a bonafide adult talent, but not yet a megastar. A slick west-coast R&B/funk album.

As great as Thriller and beyond were, who doesn't wish they could peak into alternate universe where Mike was just a top-notch R&B artist who cranked out collaboration albums like this every two or three years? An album with his bros, a couple solo albums, then another with his bros again....

The Jackson's and the folks they worked with were so talented. The studio musicians on this were great. Nate Watts, Greg Phillinganes, Jerry Hey, Michael Sembello Ollie Brown among others. Many of them were Stevie Wonder musicians around this time, so you know they had the right stuff.

I really wore this album out when I discovered it, and still do. Destiny was great as well, but they really peaked here. Shame Jermaine wasn't involved around this time, he would've only added to the greatness. His absence takes nothing away though.

Every track is worth a listen, no filler here. Even Wondering Who, which I initially thought was the weakest song, has grown on me immensely and now I love it. Anyone heard the extended version with the extra MJ verse? Someone created an extended mix (Nick extended mix) and its killer.

This is among my essential albums. In many ways, I've never come across any other album that sounds anything like it, despite the session musicians who worked on many other projects for various artists. It has a unique sound.

Would live a re-release with demos/unreleased tracks/concert DVD. It's long overdue.

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Reply #6 posted 10/18/20 9:45am

IfItAintToy

Rumor has it, Letoya participated in the making of the album. You can definitely feel her touch.
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Reply #7 posted 10/18/20 10:47am

TrivialPursuit

avatar

Triumph is probably The Jackson's best album. Destiny is in second, with a little distance in between. I was just listening to it last week. Every song is so solid and well produced, well written, well performed. I remember "Can You Feel It" on video shows. It seemed so magical, new age, mystical, bigger than life. I was immediately drawn to "Time Waits For No One." Such a great little ballad. I'm surprised it's never been covered, or certainly hasn't more than I would've expected.

Then you have classic jams like "Heartbreak Hotel" (yeah, I'm calling it what it is), "Walk Right Now" (probably my all time favorite on the record), "Lovely One" (just a joyful celebration of love), "Everybody" (a sleepy bop)... gheezus, not a bad song in the bunch.

And for the silly comparison of Destiny and Triumph to Off The Wall and Thriller, it's apples and onions. One is a group effort, one is purely solo. MJ purposely set himself apart from his brothers and that far leaning soul & R&B sound. And while Off The Wall has more soul on it, there's a purposeful pop element throughout. I think MJ also saw, because of the lack of huge recognition for the album, that he had to lean harder to a pop audience. Thriller was that record. There isn't anything close to "Beat It" on those Jackson records. It's a full on rock song. That's some "let's get that Duran Duran money" energy right there. But he still stuck to his R&B roots with stuff like "P.Y.T.," "Baby Be Mine," and "Billie Jean." For me, Thriller feels more varied and sprawling in genre. Off the Wall was still R&B Michael.

So to compare either of those two with Jackson records is a nonstarter. It's an illogical comparison. While MJ had various writers on his first two solo records, they felt like they had various writers. The Jacksons always had a sound and an approach to their songwriting and production. Dare I say formulatic, which isn't a bad thing. But they were in their moment with Triumph. I sorta wish it had been their last record instead of Victory. What a way to go out. On top.

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #8 posted 10/18/20 11:05am

MickyDolenz

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Superstition said:

Shame Jermaine wasn't involved around this time, he would've only added to the greatness. His absence takes nothing away though.

I don't think he would have had much time for this. Jermaine released 2 albums in 1980 and was working on Switch's records too. Jermaine had more participation on the 2300 Jackson Street album than on Victory, which he was not originally involved with.

You can take a black guy to Nashville from right out of the cotton fields with bib overalls, and they will call him R&B. You can take a white guy in a pin-stripe suit who’s never seen a cotton field, and they will call him country. ~ O. B. McClinton
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Reply #9 posted 10/18/20 11:50am

purplethunder3
121

avatar

Superstition said:

This was THE album. The first and last album where Mike was a bonafide adult talent, but not yet a megastar. A slick west-coast R&B/funk album.

As great as Thriller and beyond were, who doesn't wish they could peak into alternate universe where Mike was just a top-notch R&B artist who cranked out collaboration albums like this every two or three years? An album with his bros, a couple solo albums, then another with his bros again....

The Jackson's and the folks they worked with were so talented. The studio musicians on this were great. Nate Watts, Greg Phillinganes, Jerry Hey, Michael Sembello Ollie Brown among others. Many of them were Stevie Wonder musicians around this time, so you know they had the right stuff.

I really wore this album out when I discovered it, and still do. Destiny was great as well, but they really peaked here. Shame Jermaine wasn't involved around this time, he would've only added to the greatness. His absence takes nothing away though.

Every track is worth a listen, no filler here. Even Wondering Who, which I initially thought was the weakest song, has grown on me immensely and now I love it. Anyone heard the extended version with the extra MJ verse? Someone created an extended mix (Nick extended mix) and its killer.

This is among my essential albums. In many ways, I've never come across any other album that sounds anything like it, despite the session musicians who worked on many other projects for various artists. It has a unique sound.

Would live a re-release with demos/unreleased tracks/concert DVD. It's long overdue.

I've often wondered what MJ's life and music would have been like if mega success with Thriller hadn't happened...

"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." --Plato
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Reply #10 posted 10/19/20 2:31pm

woogiebear

My 7 Year-Old Grandson Dominic's Jam is "Walk Right Now"!!!!

cool

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Reply #11 posted 10/19/20 2:45pm

alphastreet

woogiebear said:

My 7 Year-Old Grandson Dominic's Jam is "Walk Right Now"!!!!


cool



Aw that’s so cute!
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Reply #12 posted 10/19/20 2:50pm

IfItAintToy

woogiebear said:

My 7 Year-Old Grandson Dominic's Jam is "Walk Right Now"!!!!

cool

INTRODUCE HER TO LETOYA'S STARTING OVER PLEASEEEE

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Reply #13 posted 10/19/20 2:52pm

PrettyMan72

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This album imo beats anything Mike did after Thriller.
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Reply #14 posted 10/19/20 5:53pm

alphastreet

PrettyMan72 said:

This album imo beats anything Mike did after Thriller.


As much as I’m a bad and future material fan too, it’s like listening to two different artists sometimes. Like I can’t imagine mj of Destiny to thriller doing new jack swing inspired music in the 90s though he pulled it off well. But would also go on to writing imo timeless classics like they don’t care about us, stranger in Moscow and earth song
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Reply #15 posted 10/19/20 6:24pm

slyjackson

Their second best album after Destiny which for me is their very best and the beginning of Michael Jackson's most creative period up to History. My favorite is Can You Feel It and Give It Up.

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Reply #16 posted 10/19/20 6:26pm

slyjackson

purplethunder3121 said:

Superstition said:

This was THE album. The first and last album where Mike was a bonafide adult talent, but not yet a megastar. A slick west-coast R&B/funk album.

As great as Thriller and beyond were, who doesn't wish they could peak into alternate universe where Mike was just a top-notch R&B artist who cranked out collaboration albums like this every two or three years? An album with his bros, a couple solo albums, then another with his bros again....

The Jackson's and the folks they worked with were so talented. The studio musicians on this were great. Nate Watts, Greg Phillinganes, Jerry Hey, Michael Sembello Ollie Brown among others. Many of them were Stevie Wonder musicians around this time, so you know they had the right stuff.

I really wore this album out when I discovered it, and still do. Destiny was great as well, but they really peaked here. Shame Jermaine wasn't involved around this time, he would've only added to the greatness. His absence takes nothing away though.

Every track is worth a listen, no filler here. Even Wondering Who, which I initially thought was the weakest song, has grown on me immensely and now I love it. Anyone heard the extended version with the extra MJ verse? Someone created an extended mix (Nick extended mix) and its killer.

This is among my essential albums. In many ways, I've never come across any other album that sounds anything like it, despite the session musicians who worked on many other projects for various artists. It has a unique sound.

Would live a re-release with demos/unreleased tracks/concert DVD. It's long overdue.

I've often wondered what MJ's life and music would have been like if mega success with Thriller hadn't happened...

He would still here with us and making great music, he could have been as free as Prince was musically without the burden of sales and fame which I consider hurt his creativity and artistic freedom, Thriller was much more of a curse than a blessing for him.

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Reply #17 posted 10/19/20 7:19pm

alphastreet

Just imagine if he was still here! I would have found a way to see him in person by now! I came close with this is it tickets
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Reply #18 posted 10/19/20 10:45pm

RODSERLING

TrivialPursuit said:

Triumph is probably The Jackson's best album. Destiny is in second, with a little distance in between. I was just listening to it last week. Every song is so solid and well produced, well written, well performed. I remember "Can You Feel It" on video shows. It seemed so magical, new age, mystical, bigger than life. I was immediately drawn to "Time Waits For No One." Such a great little ballad. I'm surprised it's never been covered, or certainly hasn't more than I would've expected.

Then you have classic jams like "Heartbreak Hotel" (yeah, I'm calling it what it is), "Walk Right Now" (probably my all time favorite on the record), "Lovely One" (just a joyful celebration of love), "Everybody" (a sleepy bop)... gheezus, not a bad song in the bunch.

And for the silly comparison of Destiny and Triumph to Off The Wall and Thriller, it's apples and onions. One is a group effort, one is purely solo. MJ purposely set himself apart from his brothers and that far leaning soul & R&B sound. And while Off The Wall has more soul on it, there's a purposeful pop element throughout. I think MJ also saw, because of the lack of huge recognition for the album, that he had to lean harder to a pop audience. Thriller was that record. There isn't anything close to "Beat It" on those Jackson records. It's a full on rock song. That's some "let's get that Duran Duran money" energy right there. But he still stuck to his R&B roots with stuff like "P.Y.T.," "Baby Be Mine," and "Billie Jean." For me, Thriller feels more varied and sprawling in genre. Off the Wall was still R&B Michael.

So to compare either of those two with Jackson records is a nonstarter. It's an illogical comparison. While MJ had various writers on his first two solo records, they felt like they had various writers. The Jacksons always had a sound and an approach to their songwriting and production. Dare I say formulatic, which isn't a bad thing. But they were in their moment with Triumph. I sorta wish it had been their last record instead of Victory. What a way to go out. On top.



Victory wasn't that bad.
In fact, the first side of the album is even very good. My favorite track out of it is Always Be Not Always.
The second side begins well with State of Shock, then it s a musical catastrophe until the end for the 3 remaining tracks.
It should have ended on a high note with an MJ song, such as the original This is it or Sunset Driver, to leave a good impression.
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Reply #19 posted 10/19/20 11:15pm

alphastreet

It’s hard to believe they never made another great album after triumph, even though I like a handful of tracks on victory. I think the fact they switched to synths instead of live instruments like on the other albums didn’t help them
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Reply #20 posted 10/20/20 12:56am

SoulAlive

Although Destiny is my favorite Jacksons album,I think Triumph has some great moments.I really enjoy "Walk Right Now"and "Lovely One".

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Reply #21 posted 10/20/20 4:49am

jn2

Superstition said:

(..)

Would live a re-release with demos/unreleased tracks/concert DVD. It's long overdue.

nod

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Reply #22 posted 10/20/20 6:50am

PatrickS77

avatar

PrettyMan72 said:

This album imo beats anything Mike did after Thriller.


Great album, but no, it does not.

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Reply #23 posted 10/20/20 7:08am

CoolMF

40? Wow. Yup, this album is definately deserving of it's own "appreciation" thread but let's not forget how great these songs sounded on the Jacksons Live album.

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Reply #24 posted 10/20/20 1:10pm

slyjackson

RODSERLING said:

TrivialPursuit said:

Triumph is probably The Jackson's best album. Destiny is in second, with a little distance in between. I was just listening to it last week. Every song is so solid and well produced, well written, well performed. I remember "Can You Feel It" on video shows. It seemed so magical, new age, mystical, bigger than life. I was immediately drawn to "Time Waits For No One." Such a great little ballad. I'm surprised it's never been covered, or certainly hasn't more than I would've expected.

Then you have classic jams like "Heartbreak Hotel" (yeah, I'm calling it what it is), "Walk Right Now" (probably my all time favorite on the record), "Lovely One" (just a joyful celebration of love), "Everybody" (a sleepy bop)... gheezus, not a bad song in the bunch.

And for the silly comparison of Destiny and Triumph to Off The Wall and Thriller, it's apples and onions. One is a group effort, one is purely solo. MJ purposely set himself apart from his brothers and that far leaning soul & R&B sound. And while Off The Wall has more soul on it, there's a purposeful pop element throughout. I think MJ also saw, because of the lack of huge recognition for the album, that he had to lean harder to a pop audience. Thriller was that record. There isn't anything close to "Beat It" on those Jackson records. It's a full on rock song. That's some "let's get that Duran Duran money" energy right there. But he still stuck to his R&B roots with stuff like "P.Y.T.," "Baby Be Mine," and "Billie Jean." For me, Thriller feels more varied and sprawling in genre. Off the Wall was still R&B Michael.

So to compare either of those two with Jackson records is a nonstarter. It's an illogical comparison. While MJ had various writers on his first two solo records, they felt like they had various writers. The Jacksons always had a sound and an approach to their songwriting and production. Dare I say formulatic, which isn't a bad thing. But they were in their moment with Triumph. I sorta wish it had been their last record instead of Victory. What a way to go out. On top.

Victory wasn't that bad. In fact, the first side of the album is even very good. My favorite track out of it is Always Be Not Always. The second side begins well with State of Shock, then it s a musical catastrophe until the end for the 3 remaining tracks. It should have ended on a high note with an MJ song, such as the original This is it or Sunset Driver, to leave a good impression.

Get your facts straight boy, Be Not Always is the title.

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Reply #25 posted 10/20/20 1:13pm

slyjackson

CoolMF said:

40? Wow. Yup, this album is definately deserving of it's own "appreciation" thread but let's not forget how great these songs sounded on the Jacksons Live album.

A beautiful album, it's a classic live album. They should have included more Destiny songs, much more than just SYB and Things, like BOTB and Destiny and Push Me Away.

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Reply #26 posted 10/20/20 4:13pm

TrivialPursuit

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RODSERLING said:

I sorta wish it had been their last record instead of Victory. What a way to go out. On top.

Victory wasn't that bad. In fact, the first side of the album is even very good. My favorite track out of it is Always "Be Not Always."


I never said it was bad. What I said was, "I sorta wish it had been their last record instead of Victory. What a way to go out. On top."

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #27 posted 10/20/20 6:30pm

wilmer

I love this album and the rest of the Jacksons albums including 2300 Jackson Street. It's an enjoyable album all the way through. I wonder if there are enough outtakes to re-release some of these albums as deluxe editions. I wonder in what state of completion are some of the outtakes listed on Wikipedia. One of my dreams is to see Victory re-released with the Mike and Freddy collabos including the song Victory plus the Dallas stop of the Victory tour. I have the sinking feeling that none of this is gonna happen. I suspect there's not much worthy of being released. Same thing with Michael's stuff. Sony said no more full-fledged albums
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Reply #28 posted 10/20/20 6:37pm

Derek1984

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Reply #29 posted 10/20/20 6:37pm

Derek1984

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