Janet Jackson

A&M, 1986

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


In 1984, all three Jackson daughters released solo albums. For Rebbie Jackson, the eldest, it was all about “Centipede.”  Then for middle daughter LaToya, “Heart Don’t Lie” became the leadoff single. 

As for Good Times alum and youngest Jackson sibling Janet (who had already released her unsuccessful debut album earlier on), her new single would be the ironically titled “Don’t Stand Another Chance.”  Not only did Janet get another chance to prove herself two years later, but she would eclipse all her sisters and brothers with the stunning watershed album Control.

From the great cover art with the crimson red background, you could just tell that this album was going to be something different. “Control” is a funky number telling the world that Miss Jackson is now all grown up.  “I’m on my own, I’ll call my own shots, thank you,” Janet boldly declares, with typical Jackson politeness. In claiming her independence and emancipation from her controlling parents, Janet teams up with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to document this historic moment on wax.

Hooking up with Jam and Lewis was both the best -- and worst -- thing Janet Jackson has ever done. The thing is, she has stuck to them like glue over the last twenty years for every album she has recorded since my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Control.  It has gone way past the predictable saturation point for this team and none of their recent singles have been able to reach the pop charts…or radio, for that matter. It’s time for a change, Janet, though by now it could be too late. 

Anyway. The hit “Nasty” is the one that brought dance music back to the masses in a fresh and unique way when it was first released.  Along with the first single “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” it was like nothing the public had ever heard on the radio before or since.

Janet would get even nastier later in her career, culminating in a career-destroying, breast-exposing Super Bowl performance with fellow pervert Justin Timberlake. But, like sister LaToya (who posed for Playboy), Janet Jackson has never been afraid to show her sexual side. The problem Janet is faced with today is in how to show a new side of herself, if indeed there is one, which will allow her to move on from the rampantly explicit sexual material that has marred her last few albums. The first item of business should be to ditch Jam and Lewis, the two men who could be encouraging her to unleash even more unnecessary sexual fury onto the world.

With Control, it all started innocently enough.  At the time, Janet was just a teenager and still had some baby fat on her, so it made sense to stay covered up and allude to sex instead of hitting people over the head with it.  The slow jam “Funny How Time Flies” points to the decidedly adult direction she was moving towards, so it is an appropriate tune to close out the album.  Her lovelorn teenage angst is expressed in the strong and straightforward R&B track “He Doesn’t Even Know I’m Alive,” and her unrequited frustrations overflow on “You Can Be Mine,” a fun song that is reminiscent of the stuff Gwen Stefani is doing now.

The other singles selected from Control are too run-of-the-mill to be very memorable.  “When I Think Of You” did go to No. 1, but the video remix is better than this mediocre version.  The video for “Pleasure Principle” also does its average song justice, featuring a slimmed-down Janet in workout mode. And then there is the ballad thrown in for good measure, “Let’s Wait Awhile,” which sounds as though Janet herself doesn’t wholeheartedly believe in what she is singing. 

She is, after all, one nasty girl who would never keep the boys at bay for long. That velvet rope was in her closet just waiting to burn. Too bad her career would go up in flames right along with it, instead of follow the course that this amazing disc laid out.

Rating: A-

User Rating: C


I accidently put "C" there. This album was and is the bomb. A whole slew of immitations came after it. I dis agree with the reviewer that Janet should ditch her longtime producers. She should get other writers to work with those producers. I think we have not seen the best of Janet.

© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of A&M, and is used for informational purposes only.