All-Time Albums: #69



Control 5:53 (UK single, #42)
Nasty 4:04 (UK single, #19)
What Have You Done For Me Lately 4:59 (UK single, #3)
You Can Be Mine 5:18
The Pleasure Principle 4:57 (UK single, #24)
When I Think Of You 3:57 (UK single, #10)
He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive 3:32
Let’s Wait Awhile 4:37 (UK single, #3)
Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun) 4:28 (UK single, #59)

“GIMME A BEAT!” – yes, this is a story about Control. How the genius of Jam & Lewis took the youngest Jackson sibling (her first name ain’t baby, it’s Janet…Miss Jackson if you’re nasty) and rescued her floundering solo career, creating the most iconic and game-changing female pop/dance album in the process.

Control made a difference to everything; it revolutionised the way dance music would go on to sound for years (even decades) to come, with its crisp, jerky, electroclunk replacing the smoother club grooves of the early and mid-Eighties. Incredibly, it also overshadowed brother Michael’s long-awaited comeback, as Bad – for all its sales and endless singles – was just another collection of songs trying to be as popular as Thriller. There were no great groundbreaking moments, or the feeling that a new era of pop was being born. Sister Janet had achieved all that during 1986 and early 1987.

This is not revisionism at play. As far back as March 1986, when What Have You Done For Me Lately? was beginning its chart climb, I could sense there was something special going on. Nothing that Jam & Lewis had helmed before, not even Cherrelle’s 2nd album High Priority from just a few weeks earlier, suggested the radical sound to be heard on Nasty and the title track. Control also has the edge over Rhythm Nation 1814, in some ways, because there are no interminable interludes and at 9 songs, no filler either. Seven of its songs were UK A-sides, and the other two were used on B-sides. It even spawned a remix album that made the Top 20 itself.

Everything, from the stunning cover design to the strong image and personality expressed in the lyrics and her vocal delivery, make this the defining Janet LP for me.

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