Picks and Pans Review: 2300 Jackson Street

updated 06/12/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/12/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Jacksons

Yes, yes, we know what you're wondering. Well, he's here. Of course he is! Do you really think the most charismatic and talented of the Jacksons would desert his brothers in their time of need? Ha! Tito would never jump ship. Just kidding.

The one and only Michael makes one (and only a cameo) appearance on the title track of 2300 Jackson Street, his family's enthusiastic musical tribute to itself. It's just as well that the Jacksons are singing their own praises, because the lineup of Jermaine, Jackie, Randy and Tito isn't going to win hosannas from anyone else with this album. The vocals are undistinguished, with only Randy's performance on "She" standing out.

There's a phalanx of producers—rock expert Michael Omartian, the R&B duos of L.A. Reid and Babyface, and Teddy Riley with Gene Griffith (two teams in the forefront of the new jack swing school of soul, which displays a hopped-up hip-hop influence) and Jermaine himself. They have burdened the album with a nerve-racking brashness. This is music that comes at you like an insurance agent on commission. That wouldn't necessarily hold them back if the material was good, but there's not a whole lot here that's particularly inviting. They sure try their hand at a bunch of different styles (perhaps thinking that if you throw enough stuff at radio, something will stick). There's the sanitary funk of "Harley," the beat-enriched "Nothin' (that compares 2 U)" and "Play It Up," and the rock mood of "Art of Madness." The best bets are the frisky "Alright with Me" and "Private Affair," a big, bouncy ballad reminiscent of a Gregory Abbott track. The most accomplished part of 2300 Jackson Street is the synthesized bass line fashioned by various musicians. That, however, is not the sort of attraction that gets people lining up to buy an album. (Epic)

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