It's the Soul Mass Transit System!

Finally, some good news that involves Michael Jackson in some way, albeit tangentially:

Soul Train,” which charted the soul, R&B and hip-hop genres for more than 35 years on TV, is headed to DVD, bringing with it decades of perfs by Michael Jackson and other iconic acts.

“Soul Train” DVDs will be released under the Time Life label, and series clips will be licensed for other outside uses. Direct Holdings Americas, parent company of the Time Life brand, has acquired DVD distrib rights to the entire “Soul Train” catalog. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Much of the material, which also includes concerts by Al Green, Aretha Franklin and the Temptations, is being made available for licensing and DVD for the first time… the company has a slew of Jackson footage it can piece together for releases, including live perfs of “I Want You Back,” “Dancing Machine” and “Don’t Say Goodbye Again” from his days in the Jackson 5 and “Whatever You Got I Want,” “What You Don’t Know Won’t Hurt You” and “If I Don’t Love You This Way” from his days as an emerging solo act.

Complete season sets are unlikely, since this syndicated show did 39 episodes a season, but I hope they include full episodes instead of clips; clips aren’t hard to find. Soul Train was a historically important show not only because of the talent it showcased (creator/star Don Cornelius was sometimes compared to Ed Sullivan for his ability to find the right mix of established and up-and-coming talent), but because it helped give a new prominence to African-American dancing and dancers on mass-market television.

Here’s an article from the Chicago Reader on Soul Train and its Chicago origins (as well as the local Chicago version that kept going for several years after the original version moved to L.A.).

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