26 February 2017, No. 239, The Jackson Sisters, ‘I Believe in Miracles (Extended Mix)’

In my files this copy of “I Believe in Miracles (Extended Mix)” from The Jackson Sisters says it’s an edit from someone called “Benny B,” but upon closer examination it turns out to be a poorly remastered duplicate of No. 238 (which isn’t even the original, as I thought it was). No. 239 might also be quantized, but I’m doubtful, and besides, quantization hardly constitutes an edit. Having never played the two tracks back to back, I never noticed they’re the same. Today’s track, the faux edit, has been compressed, limited, and made much louder, but primarily in one channel, as I learned when including it on the mixtape, in which context I fixed the balance, so you may not hear it. Anyway, I’ve made a note not to play this track in the future. Can’t delete it, though, or I’ll mess up the rest of the record show numbering, forget about having messed it up, and then talk about it later as though the disappearance of a tune or two from the list is some great mystery. Which means the inclusion of No. 239 and other similar errata as yet undiscovered will be stetted here and removed from real rotation over in “disco jams.” No. 238 I’ll stet in the crate, and we still haven’t really talked about the music yet. It’s a byow wow kind of jam, and I often have to restrain myself, or I’ll play it in every set.

I’ve always thought of that byow wow in the intro as a guitar with a wah-wah pedal, but upon closer listening I recognize it as a similarly accoutered Clavinet. Also present are huge drums, and the 30 seconds or so the sixteen-bar intro takes up are enough time to make a solid transition, especially if you EQ out the bass and start with just the Clavinet, hi-hats, and snare. Another nice feature of the intro is that the big horn stab in the sixteenth bar does not lead directly into the vocal, so if you forget to kill the other tune, the danger is slight. Regardless, the tempo does vary in those horn hits, so it’s best to quit riding the mix there and get out of the way. Simon Harris probably had this in mind when he made the 4:45 extended remix we’ve now spent two entries talking about, mistaking it first for the original and today for an edit by someone tryna cash in on Benny Benassi’s name. I should have guessed that what I thought of as the original was too long and neatly structured to be real. The actual original is still amazing, but its shorter intro and lack of a breakdown makes it less DJ friendly than Harris’s extended mix.

Gene Page did the arrangement on this tune, and I know his name because I have his Close Encounters LP. His discofied versions of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind leitmotif and the Star Trek theme are, like the rest of the Close Encounters LP, stringy and overproduced, but they feature cool keyboard and synth work throughout (Page was a pianist), so the LP stays on my shelves for now. I have just the one solo LP, but Page was an arranger for loads of prominent acts, and he has credits on 31 of the records in my stacks.

Finally there are the Sisters Jackson themselves—Jacqueline, Lyn, Pat, Rae, and Gennie—who wrote songs on a beat-up piano in their garage, won a talent competition, opened for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, moved from Compton to Detroit, and recorded “I Believe in Miracles.” I love to sing along with the hook and try to hit the high harmony on the sustained “you.” I’m not sure which sister sang which part, but Jacqueline gets top billing everywhere and was the oldest of the bunch, so let’s assume that’s her kicking off the first verse with the forceful and contradictory line, “They say the day is ending,” as the song is starting. Then we’ll let it keep playing and enjoy the miraculous world The Jackson Sisters have created just for you.