“Castles Of Sand” by Jermaine Jackson (1978)

Jermaine Jackson is a head case, for sure. But I totally get the fact that he has older brother “I taught them everything I know” syndrome, even if I don’t think it’s true. I mean, how would you feel if your younger siblings were two of the most beloved entertainers in history and you were…well, not incidental exactly (that’s Tito’s bag), but more of a journeyman type I guess is what I’m trying to describe.

“Castles Of Sand” is a sweetly sung, trippy ballad that I discovered via Jermaine’s Ultimate Collection CD. For a period of time in the early ‘00s, someone in Universal Music’s catalog department (who I’m just gonna assume is my friend Harry Weinger) went HAM on collecting the hits recorded across a variety of labels by some forgotten ‘70s-’80s R&B artists whose catalog was mostly out of print by this point. As I was working in music retail at this time, I was able to grab many of these CDs right on release, and as a result was able to dig deeper into the oeuvre of artists like Angela Winbush, Jesse Johnson and Jermaine Jackson. Jay-Z probably copped the same compilation…or rather, his producer Just Blaze did. “Castles Of Sand” underpinned the mournful “Some How, Some Way”, which appeared on Jay’s Blueprint 2 album.

“Castles” comes across as a near-perfect synthesis of two of Jermaine’s biggest acknowledged influences. You can hear Marvin Gaye all over the falsetto Jermaine uses throughout the song. It’s awfully pretty, and makes me wonder why Jermaine never made more use of his higher register. Sonically, there’s a definite resemblance to the music Stevie Wonder was making at the time-”Castles Of Sand” would’ve fit pretty well on Fulfillingness’ First Finale or Songs In The Key Of Life. Although Marvin and Jermaine never worked together (if they did, nothing was ever released), Stevie and Jermaine ultimately forged a fruitful partnership, which we’ll discuss more when we get to the “L” songs.

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