Most Wanted! Michael Jackson – Rock With You (Frankie’s Favourite Club Mix) (Epic)
‘Rock With You’ or some Michael Jackson‘s music rated as Deep House… I know some thought of this this was like a sacrilege back at the time. Except the fact that we’re not talkin’ about any kind of House treatment here. But the one and only Def Mix one! The one that would see its protagonists – Frankie Knuckles and/or David Morales) retouching the music of countless luminaries. From Mariah Carey to Loose Ends or Chaka Khan to name a few. With the King Of The Pop makin’ no exception. This not only with ‘Rock With You’, but also with ‘Thriller’ and ‘You Are Not Alone’ as a matter of fact…
One of the highlights from Jacko’s 1979 ‘Off The Wall’ album, ‘Rock With You’ is the result of another collaboration between producer Quincy Jones and songwriter Rod Temperton. ‘Rock With You’ was first submitted to Karen Carpenter who turned it down. And ended up as the second single from ‘Off The Wall’ and, by that, the follow-up of ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’.
‘Rock With You’ eventually resurfaced back in 1995 as a part of the ‘You Are Not Alone / Rock With You (The Classic Remix Series – Part 1)’ 2X12″ promo package. This with remixes courtesy of Masters At Work (featuring the late rapper Heavy D) and Frankie Knuckles.
True to what he explained in our tribute to him, Frankie‘s managed to rebuild the structures of the song. Meanwhile adding lush key parts to it (a Def Mix trademark) and eventually rearranging the string lines although remaining respectful to the original. Thus bringing Michael Jackson‘s ‘Rock With You’ to another dimension over a light House rhythm pattern.
Besides, one could discover previously unheard vocals and ad-libs one wouldn’t get on the original album version. This because the remixers were given access to the master tapes of the song to produce their remixes. The master tapes containing some additional vocals and cuts that didn’t make it onto the original album version of ‘Rock With You’ as a matter of fact…
– Did ever Jackie, Tito and their mother realize their would give birth to one of the most exciting ventures in the history of music? This when they found themselves singin’ harmonies together at night after the family’s TV had broken down!?! They would later be joined by Marlon, Jermaine and Michael. With their mom leavin’ when father Joe officially formed The Little Jackson Brothers.
It wasn’t long before he turned their name into The Jackson Five Singing Group (upon suggestion), itself naturally shortened to The Jackson Five…
After they won a talent contest at the NY Apollo Theater during the Summer of 1967, Gladys Knight eventually sent a demo of thel to Motown. But the label rejected it, sendin’ it back to the boys’ hometown in Gary, IN. Soon after, while performing at Beckman Junior High in Gary, they came to the attention of Gordon Keith who signed them on his Steeltown label. Eventually producing their debut-single – ‘Big Boy’ – and releasing it by the end of January 1968. The Five givin’ it a follow-up – ‘We Don’t Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)’ – before switching to Motown.
There, they started working along with Bobby Taylor who’d brought them to the label. The latter comin’ to produce their debut hits. In other words, ‘I Want You Back’, ‘ABC’ and ‘The Love You Save’. Meanwhile, ‘I’ll Be There’ co-written and produced by Hal Davis, became the group’s fourth #1 single. This makin’ of them the first recording act to have their first four singles reach the top of the Hot 100!
The heat was (definitely) on, and it wasn’t long before The Jackson 5 became Motown’s best-selling group and main marketing focus. Motown jumpin’ on the band’s success to launch both Michael and Jermaine‘s solo careers.
By 1973, with an ear/eye on the then emerging Disco scene, the band delivered ‘Get It Together’. An album that saw them collaborating with writers such as Norman Whitfield and Leon Ware. The title track of their album somehow markin’ an evolution of their sound towards funkier vibes. With the same applying to ‘Dancing Machine’.
Two years after though, most of the group members decided to stop recording for Motown. Therefore claiming for creative control and get a better royalty rate. Eventually signing with Epic in June 1975. To the exception of Jermaine who decided to stay with Motown, with Randy replacing him from then on. The group turnin’ their name from The Jackson 5 (which was owned by Motown) to The Jacksons. Eventually makin’ their debut for their new label via Philadelphia International Records. This most likely being how they came to embrace the Philly Sound such as one could hear on the outstanding although quite underrated ‘Style Of Life’ which saw the light as the B-side of ‘Enjoy Yourself’.
Like Jermaine, Michael, a singer, songwriter and producer, launched his solo activities while still a member of The Jackson Five. Releasing four albums for Motown between 1971 and 1975 before switching as well (as a solo artist) to Epic.
He spent most of the second half of the 70’s along with his brothers. Delivering one of his most vibrant performances back in 1976 on the underrated ‘Style Of Life’. And writing some of the band’s hits such as ‘Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)’ in 1978. But also ‘Can You Feel It’, Heartbreak Hotel’, Walk Right Now’ and ‘State Of Shock’, later on…
As a result, it wasn’t before 1979 that Michael‘s awaited debut-album for Epic hit the streets. Seeing him starting a long time collaboration with super producer Quincy Jones. And gathering an impressive cast of luminaries. From Greg Phillinganes to Louis Johnson, Paulinho Da Costa and Sheila E. But also The Seawind Horns, Randy Jackson and William Reichenbach among others. ‘Off The Wall’ pretty much opening the era of the superproduction for Jacko. Meanwhile standing as the first solo album to generate four top 10 hits Stateside. This by the likes of ‘She’s Out of My Life’, ‘Rock With You’ and ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ in addition to its title track.
More success would come three years after. This with the release of ‘Thriller’. With the latter opening the era of superlatives for Michael. Proudly standing as the best-selling album of all time worldwide, it has been rumored to have saved Epic from a possible bankrupt. It was the first album to have 7 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles. In other words, ‘The Girl Is Mine’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Beat It’, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”, ‘Human Nature’, ‘P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)’ and ‘Thriller’. Meanwhile, he found time to write and produce ‘Muscles’ for long time friend Diana Ross.
‘Bad’ saw the light almost 5 years after ‘Thriller’. A period that saw Michael duetting with his brother Jermaine on ‘Tell Me I’m Not Dreamin’ (Too Good to Be True)’. Both of them providing guest vocals on Rockwell‘s memorable ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’. Then contributing to The Jacksons‘ ‘Victory’ album and its following tour.
Michael who’d sold 20 million copies of ‘Off The Wall’, then 66 million of ‘Thriller’ wanted to do even better. And eventually selling 100 million, with ‘Bad’ being initially intended to be a duet album with… Prince! The latter didn’t respond to the invite. No more than Barbra Streisand or Whitney Houston who’d also been thought to contribute.
‘Bad’ only did 35 at the end! And, like its predecessors, it made its impact, spanning extra gems in the charts. From ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’ to its title track. But also ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Man In The Mirror’ and ‘Dirty Diana’. If not ‘Another Part Of Me’ and ‘Leave Me Alone’ to a lesser extend. Meanwhile ‘Liberian Girl’ along with Letta Mbulu failed to chart.
‘Dangerous’ marked quite a change as the first album to not be produced by Quincy Jones since his 1975 ‘Forever, Michael One’. It therefore saw Jacko collaborating with New Jack Swing guru Teddy Riley in addition to Bruce Swedien and Bill Bottrell.
‘Dangerous’ sold 32 million copies. With thanks to extra hit singles such as ‘Black Or White’ and ‘Remember The Time’. Meanwhile Epic postponed the single release of its firing title track due to hit the street in January 1994. This after allegations of child sexual abuse which were made against Jackson in August 1993. His health concerns, and the failure of the previous single, ‘Gone Too Soon’.
By the middle of 1995 came ‘HIStory’. A double-album concept with one half standing as a greatest hits compilation. And the other as a collection of new material including the Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis produced ‘Scream’ that saw him duetting with Janet. But also ‘This Time Around’ along with The Notorious B.I.G.. Not to mention ‘You Are Not Alone’ co-produced with R. Kelly and ‘They Don’t Care About Us’.
Jacko entered the 2000 whilst in the middle of a big dispute with his record label. He nevertheless released the ironically titled ‘Invincible’. An album that would be the last collection of original material he released in his lifetime. It sold an estimated 13 million copies worldwide. Way to low for an artist of this caliber though. Most likely because the record label dispute and the lack of promotion or tour. And also its release at an already bad time for the record industry, with the ongoing development of the illegal download at the time.
By July 2002, Jackson alledged that the then Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola was a “devil” and “racist” who did not support his African-American artists. Using them merely for his own gain. Soon after Sony Music refused to renew his contract. Claiming that a $25 million promotional campaign had failed because the artist refused to tour in America.
From then on the 2000’s would see Jacko taken into like a whirlwind of tragedies. The announce of his passing, on June 25, 2009, havin’ the effect of an earthquake.
His first posthumous song released entirely by his estate was ‘This Is It’, which he had co-written with Paul Anka in the 80’s. His surviving brothers reunited in the studio for the first time since 1989 to record backing vocals. It accompanied the 2009 concert documentary ‘Michael Jackson’s This Is It’. The latter standing as the highest-grossing documentary or concert film of all time. This with earnings of more than $260 million worldwide.
– A quick typing – ‘Frankie Knuckles’ – in the search box of our site should give you a certain idea of his legacy. And, by that, of the consideration we have for him. Standing among the most prolific but first and foremost talented producers/remixers of his generation. With his name firmly associated to a signature – the Def Mix Sound – and an alter ego – David Morales. Themselves synonyms with some of the most brilliant episodes in the maturation of the contemporary groove.
A native New Yorker, Frankie Knuckles arrived right on time to witness the early stages of the nightclubbing and its music – Disco – in the Big Apple. Eventually hangin’ out with his friend, Larry Levan, before comin’ to play Disco, Soul and R&B jams at The Continental Baths and The Gallery.
Knuckles relocated to Chicago, IL by the second half of the 70’s. This after a friend of his by the likes of Robert Williams had opened a space that was to become The Warehouse. Eventually inviting him to play on a regular basis. There, he came with a blend of everything, from Disco classics to European electronic fueled sounds and Rock. The whole setting up the foundations as what was to become House Music by the middle of the 80’s. This along with the use of drum machines and samplers.
Knuckles made his thing in Chicago, eventually collaborating with Jamie Principle. But he also happened to join forces with David Morales and For The Record DJ Pool founder Judy Weinstein under the Def Mix Productions banner to help manage remix requests and handle artist business affairs.
All in all, on his own or along with either David Morales or Eric Kupper, Frankie Knuckles has remixed and produced over 600 releases. With the list of those he happened to rework the music of givin’ a better idea of the impact he generated. And this way above the strict spheres of House Music. Beginning with blasts from the past such as My Mine‘s ‘Hypnotic Tango’ which he came to rework. But also Jago‘s quite sought after ‘I’m Going To Go’. Then Double Exposure‘s ‘My Love Is Free’ and Diana Ross (‘Love Hangover’). Eventually bringin’ fragments of his universe on Swing Out Sister‘s ‘Notgonnachange’. The latter being an example of the demand he generated in the UK. From Tongue’N’Cheek‘s ‘Tomorrow’ to L.A. Mix‘s ‘Live Together’ and D*Note (‘D*Votion 99’). Not to mention Lisa Stansfield‘s ‘Change’ or Loose Ends‘ ‘Hangin’ On A String’).
Of course, Frankie Knuckles made some noise in the House scene. Responsible for seminal tracks such as ‘Tears’ along with Satoshi Tomiie and Robert Owens. But also ‘And I Loved You’ featuring the same Tomiie and Arnold Jarvis. Both of them on FFRR. And how to not think of the burning ‘One Man’ by the likes of Chanelle back in 1989? Or Lil Louis feat. ChinahBlac‘s ‘Fable’??? With the same applying to Hercules & Love Affair‘s ‘Blind’. Then Sybil‘s ‘Let’s Yourself Go’. With the list to be incomplete without a mention to the Director’s Cut signature which he put together along with long time friend Eric Kupper.
And, just like David Morales, he also created serious bridges with R&B names. Beginning with Michael Jackson (‘Rock With You’). But also Chaka Khan (‘Ain’t Nobody’) and David Peaston (‘We’re All In This Together’). This in addition to The Gap Band (‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’) and Chanté Moore (‘This Time’). Then Toni Braxton (‘Un-Break My Heart’) and Womack & Womack (‘MPB’). Not to mention En Vogue‘s ‘You Don’t Have To Worry’ or Will Downing‘s ‘A Love Supreme’…
Meanwhile, under his own banner, Knuckles also made quite an impression. Delivering his debut-album – ‘Beyond The Mix’ – back in 1991. And in the meantime one of his biggest classics ever by the likes of ‘The Whistle Song’. Eventually sharing the bill four years later with Jersey songstress Adeva on the ‘ Welcome To The Real World’ album. With his final album – ‘A New Reality’ – seeing the light back in 2004.
Frankie Knuckles sadly died on March 31, 2014 in Chicago, IL, of complications from diabetes. He was 59…