Ben (Michael Jackson album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||August 4, 1972|
|Recorded||November 1971 – February 1972|
|Michael Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Ben|
Ben is the second studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released by Motown Records on August 4, 1972, while Jackson was still a member of The Jackson 5. The album received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. Ben was more successful on the music charts than Jackson's previous studio album, having charted within the top ten on the Billboard 200. Internationally, the album was less successful, peaking at No. 12 in Canada, while charting within the top 200 positions in Australia and France.
Worldwide, Ben has sold a reported 5 million units. The album released one single, the title track "Ben", which was a commercial success on music charts, topping both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian ARIA charts, giving Jackson his first No. 1 single, domestically and internationally. "Ben" also charted within the top ten in other territories worldwide. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but was canceled for unspecified reasons. Two of the album's songs were "stripped" in 2009 as part of the three-disc compilation Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection.
In January 1972, while still a member of the band, Jackson released his first studio album, entitled Got to Be There, under Motown Records. The album received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. The album was not commercially successful worldwide, as well as not having a good chart performance on music charts. The album's three singles had a good chart performance on the Billboard Hot 100, with all charting within the top 20 positions on the chart, two peaking within the top five. Got to Be There was more successful in the U.S. than internationally, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard 200 while peaking at number 37 in the UK and 121 in France.
Recording sessions for Ben began in November 1971, concluding by February 1972 before Jackson's voice began to deepen. It was produced by six people, and executively produced by Berry Gordy. Songwriters for the ten tracks Ben has include Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, Thom Bell, Linda Creed, The Corporation, Smokey Robinson, and Ronald White, among others. The album's songs have a tempo ranging from 69 beats per minute on "Ben", to 130 on "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day".
The album's title track, the theme song for the 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat movie Willard), won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. "What Goes Around Comes Around" has similarities to Jackson's older brother Jackie's single, "Didn't I (Blow Your Mind This Time)", which featured vocals from Jackson and his older brothers. For Ben, Jackson recorded a cover of The Temptations' 1964 single, "My Girl", a cover of The Stylistics' 1971 hit "People Make The World Go Round", a cover of Lionel Hampton's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", a cover of Brenda Holloway's 1965 single, "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1968 single, "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day". "My Girl" has a funk rhythm and the song's score includes some call-and-response interaction, which is similar to what Jackson and his brothers displayed in their Jackson 5 material. "You Can Cry on My Shoulder" is a mid-tempo song. "We've Got a Good Thing Going" was previously issued as the B-side to "Got to Be There"'s "I Wanna Be Where You Are" and "In Our Small Way" was also featured on Jackson's previous album Got to Be There.
Release and reception
The album was released by Motown Records, his second studio album for the label as a solo artist, in August 1972. As part of promotion for the album, "Ben" was released as the album's lead and only single in July 1972. "Ben" was a commercial success worldwide, generally charting within the top-10 and top-20 positions on music charts. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which was Jackson's first, of what would be 13 songs, to top that chart during his career as a solo artist. "Ben" also charted on Billboard's Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number three and five. "Ben" charted within the top-10 on the Dutch Top 40 chart, peaking at No. 2 and No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart, as well as charting at No. 14 in Australia. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" was planned to be released as the second single from the album, but was cancelled for unspecified reasons.
Ben was more successful on music charts in both the U.S. and worldwide compared to Jackson's previous studio album. The album peaked at No. 5 on the U.S.' Billboard 200; becoming Jackson's first of what would be six studio albums to peak within the top 10 on that chart. Ben also peaked at No. 4 on the United States' Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. On January 13, 1973, Ben debuted on the United Kingdoms' Album Charts at its peak position, number 17. The album remained within the country's music chart's top 50 positions for seven consecutive weeks. On January 1, 1973, the album was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry for shipping 60,000 units across the UK. After Jackson's death in June 2009, his music experienced a surge in popularity. The album charted on French's music charts on July 25, 2009, at its peak position of No. 162. Ben remained within the country's top 200 positions for two consecutive weeks. The album has reportedly sold over 5 million units worldwide.
The album generally received mixed to positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Lindsay Planer of Allmusic gave Ben a four out of five star rating. Planer cited "What Goes Around Comes Around' as being "one of Ben's better deep cuts" and "Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day" as being a "winner" while describing "In Our Small Way" as being a "lesser note" for the album, having felt that the song contained a "hopelessly dated 'message'". Planer noted that one "interesting shift was the lack of participation from the Motown hitmaking machine known collectively as 'The Corporation'". Vince Aletti of Rolling Stone magazine gave the album a two out of five star rating. Aletti noted that while the album "contains a good deal more original material" it "has nothing as luscious as 'Got to Be There' or 'I Wanna Be Where You Are,'" but, "it's on the whole a much stronger album than the first." He noted that in the album's title track, Jackson had a "surprising amount of feeling" in his vocal performance. Leah Greenblatt, of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B" grade. Greenblatt commented that Ben's title track was a "testament to his talent" and added that the album would "always be defined" by that song.
|1.||"Ben" (recorded November 1971)||Walter Scharf, Don Black||2:42|
|2.||"Greatest Show on Earth" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino||2:47|
|3.||"People Make the World Go Round" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Thom Bell, Linda Creed||3:15|
|4.||"We've Got a Good Thing Going" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||The Corporation (Alphonso Mizell, Berry Gordy, Deke Richards, Freddie Perren)||3:01|
|5.||"Everybody's Somebody's Fool" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Gladys Hampton, Regina Adams, Ace Adams||2:58|
|6.||"My Girl" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Smokey Robinson, Ronald White||3:05|
|7.||"What Goes Around Comes Around" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Allen Levinsky, Arthur Stokes, Dana Meyers, Floyd Weatherspoon||3:35|
|8.||"In Our Small Way" (recorded July - November 1971)||Beatrice Verdi, Christine Yarian||3:39|
|9.||"Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day" (recorded December 1971 – February 1972)||Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby, Stevie Wonder||3:19|
|10.||"You Can Cry on My Shoulder" (recorded November – December 1971)||Berry Gordy||2:32|
Adapted from AllMusic.
- Michael Jackson – vocals
- The Corporation – producer
- Hal Davis – producer
- Berry Gordy – executive producer
- Mel Larson – producer
- Jerry Marcellino – producer
- Bobby Taylor – producer
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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Jackson proved he wanted to move on from the constraints of the R&B charts into the wider limelight of mainstream pop
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