I don't know of too many adult vocalists (male or female) who sound better than Michael Jackson did when he was still in his formative stages. Young Michael's range and phrasing surprise me to this day--just take this early performance for example. . There was always this undeniable combination of purity and impossible experience that colored Michael Jackson's music during those years, and it was so evident in his delivery. In 2008, UMG and Motown released Michael's edition of their fantastic double-disc Gold series, which focuses on his solo recordings for Motown and a smattering of Jackson 5 hits.
This 32-track collection features some gems from 1971-1975, as well as a handful of tracks that appeared years later. Among "Got to Be There," "Ben" and "Rockin' Robin," there are some slept-on classics like "We're Almost There" (which DJ Spinna later tweaked into a venerable classic), and the delicate "Music and Me." Among these standouts is 1973's "With a Child's Heart." The ballad (first sung by Stevie Wonder in 1966) showcases Mike's most pristine and poignant vocal performance of the era:
Gold is an excellent anthology of Michael Jackson's teen years, a period oft-ignored by fans. It provides a sturdy bridge between J5 and the material of The Jacksons. Click and cop!