Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jermaine Jackson

  • Let's Get Serious [Motown, 1980] B-
  • Jermaine Jackson [Arista, 1984] B-
  • Don't Take It Personal [Arista, 1989] C-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Let's Get Serious [Motown, 1980]
For a while, the jumpy drive and axiomatic simplicity of the Stevie Wonder-composed and -produced title track got me into the skittish banality of the others (including the two Stevie ballads). Now I recommend the single, seriously. B-

Jermaine Jackson [Arista, 1984]
An educational contrast for those who scorn the synthetic sheen of Thriller and Victory, this label debut by the Jackson who's a Gordy is so generic it seems cloned. Not that the fast poppers aren't fun in their mechanical way. But Jermaine's singing is devoid of idiosyncrasy. His short-lived "new-wave" bent surfaces as the nagging predictability of the catchy-catchy-catchy hooks/beats/riffs. And the songwriting is farmed out to such El Lay stalwarts as Michael Omartian and Andy Goldmark except on two cuts, one of them the utterly sincere, utterly bathetic "Oh Mother." Oh brother. B-

Don't Take It Personal [Arista, 1989]
As he turns 35, the 5's original teenthrob undertakes to fill little brother's shoes. Having dominated songwriting as well as lead vocals on the family's 2300 Jackson Street, a perky piece of disposable pop-funk that failed to go gold, he's forced to hand-pick black-crossover hacks from Surface to David Z on his (huxtry, huxtry) "first solo album in over 3 years." A mild-voiced journeyman whose heyday is 10 if not 20 years behind him, he's equally bland as love man (title hit promises they can still be friends) and stud (though he does thank six foals on the back cover). Docked a notch not just for muttering, "Hey baby, I'd like to buck you," but for having some hired b-boy chime in with the requisite "Word." C-