Jun 08

THE JACKSONS – “Show You The Way To Go”

FT + Popular59 comments • 4,089 views

#407, 25th June 1977

A key player in Popular to come steps lightly onto the scene: Michael Jackson (with brothers) was already a star but his ball-of-energy performances on the Jackson Five’s hits had always just missed out on the UK #1. On “Show You The Way To Go” he’s a subtler presence, cajoling rather than exploding. His presence – still charismatic, still show-stealing – is a ripple of excitement in “Show You”‘s smooth groove. Or maybe that’s just hindsight?

Disco was good to Michael Jackson: it came along at just the right time for the child star to cut the glorious forcefulness and find a voice and style that could carry him along. Jackson realised that the unwavering beat of disco left room for doubt and hurt even while the dancing went on, and on “Show You The Way To Go” you can hear him developing that trademark agonised quaver, that pleading squeak which would take him higher than anyone. The other Jacksons are hardly lacking in suppleness, mind, and this would be a pleasure even if it didn’t point futurewards so tantalisingly.



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  1. 31
    vinylscot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Did Wings ever appear on TOTP doing “Coming Up” – they were certainly in the video?

    Also, had Tubeway Army officially ceased to exist by the time Numan was performing “Cars” on TOTP?

  2. 32
    Waldo on 19 Jun 2008 #


  3. 33
    DJ Punctum on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Don’t recall Wings performing “Coming Up” in the studio (but no doubt Billy will put us right on that) but yes, “Cars” was the first “Gary Numan” single.

  4. 34
    vinylscot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Apologies to SB.

    On further reflection, Wings probably had ceased to exist by the time “Coming Up” was released as a single. Although they performed it on their tour in December 1979, I seem to recall they only ever performed again at the Kampuchea benefit gig. So it is highly unlikely, even if Paul was in the studio, that Wings would have been with him (although Linda may have been)

  5. 35
    DJ Punctum on 19 Jun 2008 #

    May 1980 – wouldn’t he have been banged up in Tokyo by then, or was that a little later or earlier?

  6. 36
    vinylscot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    I think he was away from Tokyo by then. The Japanese Tour was meant to be straight after the UK tour, but got cancelled because of Paul’s “little trouble”. As I said earlier I’m pretty sure they didn’t play again after that. The bootleg of the second night at the Apollo in December 1979 was called “Last Flight”, which I think referred to it being Wings’ last bona-fide gig.

  7. 37
    Waldo on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Well, obviously there was “Long-Haired Lover…” Or was this not done on TOTP?

    Frankly, my dear…

  8. 38
    DJ Punctum on 19 Jun 2008 #

    …will my whole life depend?

  9. 39
    rosie on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Come on, ‘fess up! Who else was following The Water Margin (complete with comic dubbing) at about this time?

    “Do not despise the snake for not having horns for, who knows, it may become a dlagon!”

  10. 40
    Billy Smart on 19 Jun 2008 #

    TOTP Watch: We only ever got the video of ‘Coming Up’. Here are details of Michael Jackson’s only 2 studio appearances (both programmes survive);

    Michael Jackson performed ‘Rockin’ Robin’ on the TOTP transmitted on December the 28th 1972. Also in the studio that week were; Gary Glitter, Lieutenant Pigeon, Slade, Chuck Berry (with Rolf Harris!) and Pan’s People (interpreting ‘Without You’). Hosts were Tony Blackburn & Noel Edmunds.

    The Jacksons performed ‘Destiny’ on the TOTP transmitted on February the 8th 1979. Hmm, they don’t show that one so often… Also in the studio that week were; Mick Jackson (!), Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Shadows, Dr Feelgood, Darts, Judas Priest and Legs & Co (interpreting ‘Chiquitita’). The host was David Jensen. Sounds like an interesting mix backstage that week.

  11. 41
    mike on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Butbutbut I definitely saw a YouTube clip of them doing “Show You The Way To Go” live on TOTP, introduced by David Jensen. (Can’t do you a link, as YT is blocked here.)

  12. 42
    wichita lineman on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Here tis


  13. 43
    vinylscot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    While we’re on the Jacksons, maybe someone can explain something to me (Marcello, maybe).

    Why was their single “Heartbreak Hotel” later re-titled “This Place Hotel”, sometime after it had been a (small)hit. There’s obviously no copyright on titles, and nobody would be likely to confuse the two songs, so why change?… and why change to such a stupid, nonsensical title?

    Any Smarties got the answer?

  14. 44
    DJ Punctum on 19 Jun 2008 #

    On his Bad tour (which I saw at Wembley in ’88) MJ was performing the song as “Heartbreak Hotel” so I don’t think there was any legal issue involved; it may simply be that the Jacksons didn’t want people to confuse their “Heartbreak Hotel” with Presley’s.

    Anyway this provides an excellent opportunity to reprint a choice excerpt from Danny Baker’s infamous 1981 NME piece on the family. We join him and them at a press conference…

    It was pretty bleak until this one poor wretched Japanese looking bloke committed the cardinal sin of any press conference — he tried to crack a joke. Oh, but he did. Y’see there’s a track on their new LP called “Heartbreak Hotel” and this bloke — who had little command of English anyway — thought he had cooked up a real zinger.

    ‘Ah, Michael’, he stuttered, seizing his chance. ‘Ah if you had not been a hit with your LP, ah, would you have gone to, ah, Heartbreak Hotel?’

    In the ensuing silence, the wind blew, crickets chirped and you could hear the guy swallow hard as the apologetic grin froze on his chops. It turns out nobody understood him. Tito asks him to repeat the ‘question’.

    ‘Ah, Michael, i-if your LP had n-not been success…w-would you have, ah, have gone t-to Heartbreak Hotel?’

    By now most of us hacks have caught on to what’s being said and the less valiant turn away and clear their throats. The guy is still grinning although he has stopped blinking by now and is wobbling perceptibly.

    A Jacksons aide steps in. ‘Er, Yoshi, what do you mean?’

    ‘Ah Michael. If your album h-h-had not been su-su-success wouldyouhavegonetoHeartbreakHotel?’

    Michael shakes his head and Jackie tries. ‘OK, I got Heartbreak Hotel but that was on our LP — what’s it got to do with Michael?’

    Poor Yoshi is drenched in flop-sweat. He is darting his eyes around looking for an ally. His neck has gone to semolina and his palms perspire like the Boulder dam.

    ‘I-I-I’m playing with words you see.’

    Nobody sees and Yoshi’s grasp of the lingo falls an inch short of the word ‘joke’.

    ‘P-P-Playing with words … words.’

    The eyes of the world are burrowing deep inside that tweed jacket of his. He’s trembling like a sapling in monsoon and smoke is starting to belch out of his ears. Then — a voice at the back ends the torture.

    ‘I think the guy’s trying to make a funny.’

    ‘Yis! Yis! That’s it!’ babbles the released spirit. ‘I’m making funny! Funny!’

    As he begins to appeal for clemency, the final cruel blow sounds. Amidst the unnecessary sighing the aide says: ‘Hey Yoshi. This is a press conference, man. Save the funnies, huh?’

    The dumb questions resumed but I couldn’t take my eyes from the broken Japanese. Ruined, he never heard another word all afternoon. Today, I suspect he sits in a bathchair in some far off sanatorium, grey haired and twitching, mumbling to anyone who will listen: ‘The words. Playing with words you see…is funny…’

  15. 45
    LondonLee on 19 Jun 2008 #

    I vaguely remember a great bit in that article about the overblown intro to ‘Can You Feel It’ too.

  16. 46
    vinylscot on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Thanks, Marcello – the press conference wouldn’t have been nearly as good if they had originally called it “This Place Hotel”.

    I’ll buy the “avoiding confusion” explanation, but why “This Place Hotel”? Why not some other title which actually makes sense? Did they ask Yoshi to pick a new title?

    I think we should be told!

  17. 47
    Billy Smart on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Re 42: I’d never seen that performance before! Live vocals, too.

    In the interest of completeness; It comes from the TOTP broadcast on May the 19th 1977. Also in the studio that week were; Suzi Quatro, Linda Lewis, Carloe Bayer-Sager, Tony Etoria, Joy Sarney and The Jam, plus Legs & Co’s interpretation of ‘Disco Inferno’.

  18. 48
    Tom on 19 Jun 2008 #

    Just popping in to apologise for the slow pace of Popular – my working life is intruding a bit with conferences etc. And I’ve also just found out I’m reviewing MBV tomorrow (if you’re going, hello!) so no chance of anything until the weekend. Here, in fact, I am again: a loser :(

  19. 49
    Waldo on 20 Jun 2008 #

    Nice self-bunnying there, Thomas. Be seeing you!

    Rosie # 39 – Yes, I was most certainly a disciple of “The Water Margin”. Lin Chung was a great hero of mine. That boy realy knew how to kick serious botty and that other bloke who used to run and jump used to crack me up every time. Wonderful, magical stuff and you were with the good guys all the way. I’m afraid, however, that you’ve slightly misquoted Bert on the intro. It was, in fact, “Do not despise the snake for having no horns. For who is to say that it will not become a dragon?” And this is followed up with the sublime: “Thus one just man becomes an army”, before Bert begins the prologue.

    Marcello – That was a lovely piece about Yoshi, clearly a wit of Wildesque proportions. I must admit that Waldo himself has heard the refrain “I think the guy’s trying to make a funny” once or twice. Although they didn’t say “guy”!

  20. 50
    rosie on 20 Jun 2008 #

    My apologies, Waldo. But it was more than thirty years ago, and I can’t be expected to recall the precise details of thirty-year-old television programmes, can I? ;)

  21. 51
    Waldo on 20 Jun 2008 #

    On reflection, Rosie, you didn’t do badly at all. I’m afraid I’m completely tragic and can still quote chapter and verse on one or two shows, satellite repeats notwithstanding. I once had a (well pre-Sky) duel with another no-lifer with regards the titles of “Alias Smith and Jones”. It was a dead heat and I won the penalty shoot-out when we switched to “The Prisoner”. Utterly pitiful. I was brought down to earth, though, in 1988 when I met my other half. I desperately wanted Lizzie to get in to McGoohan’s masterpiece and with a song in my heart slipped “Arrival” on to the VCR. By the time Number Six had made it to the Green Dome, the bloody girl had nodded off!

    Happy Days!

  22. 52
    DJ Punctum on 20 Jun 2008 #

    Then she woke up, pointed at the screen and said “Wavy lines!”

  23. 53
    Waldo on 20 Jun 2008 #

    Actually, Marcello, it was: “Oh, are we watching ‘The Good Life’ now?”

  24. 54
    DJ Punctum on 20 Jun 2008 #

    “I mustn’t keep my new masters waiting”…this was Jim Hacker, right?

  25. 55
    Waldo on 20 Jun 2008 #

    Right! “Cobb”.

    Btw, Virginia Maskell, who played the woman mourner at Cobb’s funeral, tragically committed suicide a matter of months after filming that, an utter tragedy. It’s difficult to tell from that appearance, since she is dressed in frumpy Village garb and spends all her time either looking anxious or crying, but she really was very lovely.

  26. 56
    DJ Punctum on 20 Jun 2008 #

    The only other thing I ever saw her in was as Peter Sellers’ wife in Only Two Can Play where she goes off and has an affair with Richard Attenborough. Enough to make anyone anxious, I would have thought.

    Incidentally, Duncan Macrae, the great Glasgow comic who appears as the Doctor in Dance Of The Dead, also died a few months after filming, though given his long and intense history of ethanolphilia, no one was particularly surprised.

    And “Cobb” is also an acronym for “Chimes Of Big Ben” SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?

  27. 57
    Waldo on 20 Jun 2008 #

    I’m amazed to hear that Duncan Macrae was a comic. You learn something every day.

    Virginia M was also in one of the “Doctor” films, playing a young doctor, with whom one very unworldly patient (I think it’s Ronnie Stevens) falls in love. She looks absolutely delightful in that.

    Nice factoid about “Cobb”.

  28. 58
    David Belbin on 23 Jun 2008 #

    Coming late to the party, I want to back up DJP on the quality of Cohen’s ‘Death Of A Ladies Man’. The title track of this is a stone cold masterpiece, one of Cohen’s best songs (as he knew, it was also the title of one of his strongest poetry/prose collections) and a great Spector production. I recall giving it a full page review in the university paper that (handily) I edited at the time. The album as a whole is patchy but has many great moments and the tour which followed it was one of Cohen’s best. He played a couple of songs from the album but not, criminally, the title track. Indeed I spent much of the second half of the Birmingham concert yelling out for it, without acknowledgement. I was tempted to do the same when I saw him in Manchester last week but Leonard is far beyond doing requests these days. Indeed, as they brought out the double bass for a bonus encore of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, somebody called out for it and Leonard waved the double bass away, presumably lest anyone think that they could influence the setlist. Still the gig of the year, mind.

    I agree with Mike, Show You The Way is forgettable (I’d forgotten it), but in a nice way – and it’s a masterpiece when compared to the current number one.

  29. 59
    Musicality on 20 Jan 2020 #

    So many great, memorable tracks by them, this is average and forgettable.

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