Friday, October 10, 2014

Rebbie Jackson - Centipede

Today (October 10th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Centipede, the debut album from Rebbie Jackson. She was the oldest of the Jackson family kids, but did not record her first record until she was in her mid-thirties. This album spent eighteen weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 63. It also reached number 13 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one begins with the title track. “Centipede”, written and produced by her brother Michael, was released as the first single; it charted at number 29 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 24 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I’ve always like the synth-drums on this one, with their erratic rhythm. It made for a very unique sounding song on the dance floor at the time. Rebbie’s vocals are both gritty and sweet on it.

The dance party continues with the next track. “Come Alive It’s Saturday Night” was written and produced by her brothers Marlon, Jackie, Randy and Tito.

“Hey Boy” slows it down with a love ballad that brings to my mind the great Diana Ross, a long-time friend of the family.

“Open Up to My Love” delivers a mid-tempo, sultry invitation to a night of loving.

Side two opens with “Play Me (I’m a Jukebox)”, a rocking dance number that includes some flirtatious and sassy rapping by the singer.

Next up is a cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You”. Funny to note that this album came out just a few weeks after Chaka Khan’s album that included a cover of the same song. Rebbie sticks very close Prince’s original, from the music arrangement to her singing in the same high key. I rather like it.

The second single from the album was “A Fork in the Road”; it went to number 40 on the US Billboard R&B chart. This is a cover of the 1965 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Again, Rebbie really embraces the sound and style of the original; this easily could have been a girl-group cover from the 60’s.

The closing track is “Ready For Love”, one more slamming dance number.

Outside of the title track, this was my first exposure to the rest of Centipede. I have to say that Rebbie Jackson really scored with this debut album; it was a treat for me from start to finish. You can check it out for yourself over at Spotify.

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