Picks and Pans Review: Control

updated 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/24/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

Janet Jackson

Janet is the only Jackson who appears on this album. No Michael, no Jermaine; no Reggie, no Jesse, not even Glenda. Janet is, at 19, clearly making a strident declaration of independence with this third album. Listen to her lyrics: "Are we ready? I am. 'Cause it's all about control, and I've got lots of it." Or: "My first name ain't baby—it's Janet, or Miss Jackson, if you're nasty." Her attempt to avoid leaning on her famous family is admirable, but the musical results are not. Co-produced by Prince protégés Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the album has an artificial feel. The synthesized rhythm backgrounds are monotonous and clunky, the keyboards seem to have been programmed by an unimaginative computer, but when Troy Anthony's saxophone breaks out on He Doesn't Know I'm Alive, the effect—of a live instrument at last—is striking. On that same track, Jackson's voice surfaces from the mixmastering that it's been mired in. She can sing with such sweet clarity that it's a puzzle why anyone would insist on burying her. Having fought to establish who she isn't—just another Jackson sibling—maybe now Janet can concentrate on developing who she is. (A&M)

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