An interesting contrast, we go from one massive ‘80s R&B hit machine to another, as we transition from Whitney Houston to Janet Jackson. As I quickly realized when an impromptu dance party broke out in the car on the way to the airport yesterday, I enjoyed this album much more than Whitney’s debut album. I think it is safe to say that while Whitney is the technically superior vocalist, Janet’s collaboration with Minneapolis-based Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced a much funkier and alluring set of tunes. Rolling Stone also weighed in with the same view, as this album was rated as the #111 choice on their Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
I was surprised to hear how many major hits were all contained on this one album. The title track kicks things off with a disciplined beat, and then we all take a funky step back in time when the first beats of “Nasty” come on. “No!… My first name ain’t baby, It’s Janet… Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty!” The powerful self-confidence continues with another great tune, “What Have You Done for Me Lately”. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Janet to break away from the rest of the Jackson family to collaborate with a new team, but they hit a real home run with this album.
After “You Can Be Mine”, which is a bit of a filler track, the hits continue with “The Pleasure Principle” and my favorite song on the album, “When I Think of You”. This upbeat and cheery love song was Janet’s first number one single after many near misses.
“He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive” is a bit of a downer, but the album finishes with TWO songs that represent budding, happy love… “Let’s Wait Awhile” and “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)”. Regardless of which one you prefer, they are the perfect capstone for a really outstanding record that is a blast to listen to, from beginning to end. Next time you are on your way to the airport, I highly recommend this selection.