The Jacksons followed their 1976 self-titled album, with Goin’ Places, released on October 8th, 1977. Like the preceding album, Goin’ Places was a joint venture between Epic Records and Philadelphia International Records. The Jacksons open their twelfth studio album with the McFadden & Whitehead production “Music’s Taking Over.” The music sounds fresh and gives Michael Jackson a chance to showcase his vocal range. Towards the end of the song, MJ hits some fantastic low notes.
The album’s second song is the title, which was also its first single. With Gamble & Huff’s fantastic production, Michael once again takes the lead and elevates the simplicity of the lyrics such as “I like the feelin’ I get when I’m ridin’ in a jet Say I’m goin’ places.” Gamble & Huff brought out the best in Michael vocally, and I always wanted a full-on Gamble & Huff produced MJ solo album since I love the work they did together.
All five brothers produced and wrote the album’s third track, “Different Kind Of Lady.”
The brothers had always wanted to showcase their songwriting ability and got that chance after signing with Epic Records. The seventies sound is definitely in this track, but “Different Kind Of Lady” was just an appetizer of what was to come on the brother’s later produced work.
The smooth cuts start with the next track, “Even Though You’re Gone.” Another Gamble & Huff production, the song features a lush vocal by Michael where he comes across smoother than a glass of cognac. The passion heard in Michael’s voice as he croons over his lost love while realizing he has to move on is something we can all relate to.
Dexter Wansel & Cynthia Biggs produce and contribute to the next track, “Jump for Joy.” While the song is full of positive energy, the song’s placement on the album was always a bit questionable. In context, I would’ve placed the songs more towards the front, as it comes after a ballad and precedes a slow jam. Nevertheless, the song is timeless and can always lift your spirits when you’re down.
“Heaven Know I Love You Girl” is up next, and even though this song was released four years before my birth, it’s one of my top ten Michael Jackson ballads. Gamble & Huff’s production is so elegant and the lyrics are classy. Featuring backing vocals and a spoken rap from his brother Tito, who also shows off his guitar skills, “Heaven Know I Love You Girl” is a quiet storm staple.
“Man of War” is next and is another Gamble & Huff production recalling the duo’s political activism songs such as Billy Paul’s “Am I Black Enough for You?”. The song gives all brothers a chance to shine. When I think of everything going on in the world right now, in the song’s chorus, particularly the lines “You can’t make people, things against their will,” solidifies how both The Jacksons and Gamble & Huff were ahead of their time.
The Jacksons entirely wrote and produced another song with “Do What You Wanna.” Similar to “Different Kind Of Lady,” the song is just about positivity. The album then closes out with the Gamble & Huff produced slow cut, “Find Me a Girl.” Michael sings his heart out on this one and seduces the ladies without ever using crass or vulgar lyrics.
Outside of the die-hard fans Goin’ Places is rarely mentioned as some of the group’s best work. Honestly, it makes sense as the next two albums, Destiny and Triumph, were massive successes. However, Goin’ Places is a fine album overall and worth the revisit.
Final Grade B+
Top Tracks: “Find Me a Girl,” “Heaven Knows I Love You Girl,” “Goin Places,” and “Even Though You’re Gone”