“Enjoy Yourself” by The Jacksons (1976)

“Enjoy Yourself” was the first song the Jackson brothers released following their departure from Motown, the label that vaulted them to success. Motown-known for its punitive rtists who left them-was not fucking around. Not only did the brothers eventually have to pay Berry Gordy a few coins for the privilege of leaving; Motown took the “Jackson Five” name and trademark (after which the brothers began recording as The Jacksons). Plus middle brother Jermaine decided to stay put at Motown; leaving a vacancy in the group lineup that was quickly occupied by youngest brother Randy.

The brothers left Motown to get more involved in the writing and producing of their own records, but after signing with CBS in 1975, they weren’t given as much leeway as they maybe were looking forward to. Their new label paired The Jacksons with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, the architects behind the Philly soul sound that had scored hits for The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, and others. “Enjoy Yourself” scored an immediate return on investment, becoming The Jacksons’ highest charting single in 2 ½ years and becoming their first ever Gold certified single (with a caveat-Motown didn’t allow their books to be accounted by the RIAA until the late ‘70s/early ‘80s).

“Enjoy Yourself” generally isn’t mentioned when people run down the best songs by Michael or the family group, but it’s a fun little slice of pop-funk. It doesn’t come across as heavy as a lot of Philly International’s more socially conscious repertoire did. MFSB (Philly International’s house band) lays down a hell of a groove here (love the horn stabs right before the choruses) and Michael-as expected-sings his ass off. Jackie (bumped to secondary vocalist after Jermaine’s departure) chimes in on the bridge. I discovered this 45 (which, weirdly, splits the label credit between Epic and Philly International) post-Off The Wall and pre-Thriller (hey, I was months old when it came out), and have been jammin’ to it ever since.

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