On this day in music history: January 7, 1971 …

On this day in music history: January 7, 1971 – “Mama’s Pearl” by The Jackson 5 is released. Written and produced by The Corporation, it is the fifth consecutive top five single for the five brothers from Gary, IN. Issued as the second single from their third LP “Third Album”, “Pearl” is originally intended to be the follow up to the Jackson 5’s third number one hit “The Love You Save”, but is initially passed over in favor of “I’ll Be There”. Written mostly by Freddie Perren and Fonce Mizell of The Corporation, in its first draft the song has a much different concept. Originally titled “Guess Who’s Making Whoopie (With Your Girlfriend)”, some of the original lyrics include a refrain stating “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine”. Chief Corporation songwriter Deke Richards, knowing that it won’t work with The Jackson 5’s wholesome image, works with his songwriting partners to come up with an entirely new title and lyrics. Re-titled “Mama’s Pearl”, the songs’ narrative is about a boy who knows a girl he likes is mutually attracted to him, but is too shy to reveal her true feelings. He urges her to come out of her shell and become his girlfriend. Label chief Berry Gordy approves of the revamped song, and producers head for the studio to cut it. The track is recorded at Motown’s Hitsville West Studio in Los Angeles in July of 1970. Before it is released as a single, the group re-record the lead and background vocals, improving upon the first version released on the album. “Mama’s Pearl” peaks at #2 on both the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 on February 27, 1971. Ironically, it is held off the top of the pop charts by The Osmonds “One Bad Apple”, a song written for the Jacksons but is rejected by Motown as being “too juvenile”. A stereo mix of “Pearl” with the re-recorded vocals first appears on The Jackson 5’s “Greatest Hits” album released in December of 1971 as well as their 1976 “Anthology” compilation. This version also makes its CD debut on the “Jackson 5 Anthology” in 1986, and is included on “The Jacksons Story” compilation in 2004. The song is also featured in an episode of the group’s Saturday morning cartoon series “The Jackson 5ive”. The episode titled “A Rare Pearl” (originally airing on January 15, 1972) centers around the Jacksons pursuit of a beautiful flight attendant named Jacqueline Pearl, after meeting her on an airplane. To thwart the brothers, she has her football jock older brother pose as her mother to scare them into leaving her alone, after following her home. The rejected original version “Guess Who’s Making Whoopie” later surfaces on the compilation “Come And Get It: Rare Pearls” in 2012. The single’s B-side “Darling Dear”, another track from “Third Album”, featuring a virtuoso performance by Funk Brothers bassist James Jamerson, also becomes a favorite of Jackson 5 fans.