Album of the Day: Michael Jackson (8/4/72)

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The title track to Michael Jackson’s second solo album, Ben, is about a pet rat, of all things, and it’s a subdued but syrupy ode to the furry pest. If it sounds like a soundtrack to a movie, that’s because it is. Ben, the movie, was the sequel to the 1971 rat-fest, Willard. With Michael’s youthful voice (he was only 14 at the time the album came out on August 4, 1972) gliding smoothly above the waves of strings and backing vocals, “Ben” became his first #1 hit on the pop charts in the fall of 1972, although it only reached #5 on the R&B charts. But there’s more to the album than that rat song. Ben includes a spirited, made-for-AM-pop-radio cover of the Temptations “My Girl” (written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White) and the soaring social commentary of “People Make The World Go Round.” And there’s “Greatest Show On Earth.” a portend to what would happen a decade later when The Gloved One released Thriller and completed his rise to the become the greatest pop star ever.  Ben is available for purchase as a CD or individual mp3 files on Amazon and as iPod files on iTunes. The King of Pop’s playlist is in Dr. Rock’s Playlist Vault.

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