Listener to our much ballyhooed radio show, The Radio Philistine, might remember an offensive character I used to play, Jackson Michaels, America’s Number One Child Molestation Comic. Basically it involved insentive jokes about being a pederast and it played to absolutely zero laughs. I assume, it was radio, remember. Anyway, I retired Jackson Michaels because there came a point when “he” couldn’t really compete with his namesake for tasteless and offensive output. Of course, I just assume innocent people don’t settle law suits for $25 million. But I’m not here to judge…

fotoflexer_michael-jI’d like to remember Michael Jackson when he was younger, energetic and black. Also, when he was recording for CBS/Epic. The Motown stuff was too aspartame for my tastes.

I would put forth that his creative output from 1979 through 1982 ranks up there with any of the great recording artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. His Quincy Jones produced solo record “Off the Wall,” his Jacksons (not Jackson 5 anymore) record “Triumph” and his monster hit “Thriller” all came within a four year period of inspired genius.

The young adult Michael sang about girls, break ups and boogie. He was a smooth bridge between the Beatles and James Brown with a vastly superior vocal range. And he was an innovator in the studio with an ear for orchestrated production. Listen to “This Place Hotel (Heartbreak Hotel)” from “Triumph” and hear a confident songwriter/singer about to grow into being the King of Pop.

Of course, it will be the funk and rock songs people most remember. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” will always fill a dance floor, and “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” will continue to dominate terrestrial radio forever.  And while you’re loading up your ipoop, don’t forget “Rock with You,” “Can You Feel It” and  “Lovely One” for shear pleasure.

Mims and I had the pleasure of seeing Michael live around 1983/84. Despite my music snobbery, I still rank it as one of the top 10 shows I have ever seen. He performed with so much passion and enthusiasm it was difficult not to name him the Elvis of our generation.

Unfortunately, that comparison seems all too easy now. A caricature of his former self  – dead at a way too young age. Off the charts whacked out of his mind on pain pills and, incomprehensibly, anaesthesia, he will leave behind a legacy of accusations, court appearances, homunculi and, oh yeah, music.

So forget his friendships with animals and “Webster,” his sleep overs with children, his chiselled “good” looks and his “wives.” Remember instead that for a brief period, Michael Jackson really was a King and that king died some time around the mid 80s.

fotoflexer_wilcothealbumAnd, hey, speaking of music, have you purchased “Wilco (the album)” by Wilco yet? Run don’t run to a locally owned record store and buy it now. I’ll wait.  Lalalalalala. Got it? Great, isn’t it? It grabs you right from the start with “Wilco (the song)” and never lets up. Nels Cline remains a god! I’ll even forgive the duet with Feist, because lyrically it’s Jeff Tweedy at his darkest. Say, didn’t he also have a pain pill addiction? And I just dropped the kids off at his house!!! Tweedy!!!!