The Jacksons followed up the hugely successful Destiny (1978) with their first album of the '80s, Triumph. Powered by Michael Jackson's phenomenally lucrative solo career that began the year before with Off the Wall, Triumph outsold its predecessor and contained several hit singles. Epic/Legacy has recently reissued the album on CD, featuring excellent remastered audio. This remains a very good party album to this day, albeit a bit dated by the disco grooves that were still in vogue at the time of its 1980 release. Fans of Michael Jackson, who handles the majority of the lead singing, will be thrilled to revisit this album.
This was released at a bit of an odd time for The Jacksons. Michael had stunned music fans the previous year with his first adult solo release, but Thriller was still two years away when Triumph first hit stores. At this point in his career, he didn't really need to carry on as part of the group. He was about to become the biggest star on the planet. In retrospect it's a little surprising that he continued recording with his brothers (minus Jermaine, who didn't rejoin the group until 1984). But Michael sounds very committed to the project, which comes across as even more of an ensemble effort than Destiny. Jackie, Tito, Marlon, and Randy all contributed significantly – though the results are somewhat less impressive than the previous album.
The primary shortcoming of Triumph is the sameness of many of the tracks. Of the nine songs, too many of them are very similar mid-tempo dance tunes. The general indistinctness of much of the album makes it hard to remember songs individually. That's not to say there aren't some great tracks. "Can You Feel It" opens the album with an irresistible stomping beat. Michael and Randy share lead vocals on this epic anthem. "Lovely One" and "This Place Hotel," both of which were hit singles, are also memorable due to their strong hooks.
"Give It Up" features Marlon on co-lead vocals, while Jackie handles the lead on "Wondering Who." While these songs demonstrate the vocal diversity within the group, they are among the blandest songs on the album. Released as the album's final single, but failing to become a hit, "Walk Right Now" is a driving dance number that deserved more recognition.
Despite being somewhat of a mixed bag, fans of disco-flavored R&B shouldn't pass it up. A few bonus tracks have been thrown in: the single version of "This Place Hotel" and a pair of dance remixes of "Walk Right Now." They aren't anything special, but are nice to have – especially for big fans of the group. The new liner notes and remastered audio are excellent, making this release of Triumph a worthwhile purchase.