Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Pop, R&B
Teaming with her most accomplished collaborators, producer-songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson delivers what is easily her finest record since Rhythm Nation--and arguably her best ever. Highlights include ... more »
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Teaming with her most accomplished collaborators, producer-songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson delivers what is easily her finest record since Rhythm Nation--and arguably her best ever. Highlights include jams like "You" and "Got 'Til It's Gone," which recontextualizes samples from War and Joni Mitchell, respectively; the funky memorial to a dear departed, "Together Again"; and a slinky cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night." Best of all, though, is "What About." An accusatory throwdown for a lover who beats and cheats even as he professes his love, it swings angrily between tender quiet and raging bitter funk. --David Cantwell
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The 10th Anniversary Of The Best Album Ever Made: Janet Jack
Adam B. Irby | Harlem, NYC, USA | 10/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""It's my belief that we all have the need to feel special and it's this need that can bring out the best in us yet the worst in us. This need created the velvet rope."
Ten years ago today, October 7th, 1997 Janet Jackson released what is her most profound and thought provoking piece of work ever, "The Velvet Rope." In my opinion it is the best and will always be the best album ever made. There is probably not a professional music reviewer anywhere who will agree with me but that's okay. Beside the musical merits of the album it has a much deeper emotional resonance with me.
At the time this album came out I was fourteen years old, a freshman in high school. I had already been a casual fan of Janet's since "Rhythm Nation 1814" and all throughout the "janet." years but I was still a kid and I really didn't get into her until then. Even at that time I was still young and was only getting $1.75 a day spending money for school, needless to say I didn't buy this album when it was first released.
My first memory of hearing it in it's entirety was laying on the floor of my eldest sister's house one Saturday afternoon listening to it on her portable CD player. I was so enthralled by the sounds of the album and the amazing graphic design, photographs and imagery of the album booklet. That day was the day that I fell in love with music. Finally at 16 years old "The Velvet Rope" was the first CD I ever bought with my own money.
"The Velvet Rope" is an eclectic opus with touches of R&B, pop, rock, dance, and classical music. It plays out like a theatrical production and is best heard in full. Every interlude, every word of all twenty-two tracks of this CD are all important. They all work together to cohesively bring forth the message, to tell of your need, my need, our need, the need to feel special. The need that brings out the best and yet the worst of us, the need that created "The Velvet Rope." The velvet rope that helps us hide our feelings, holds back our public and binds us up for our lovers.
Coming off of the most successful album of her career 1993's "janet.," which sold over 17 million records worldwide and was the first record by a female artist to debut at #1 in the United States in the Nielsen SoundScan era. She released six singles off of this album and toured almost two years promoting it. This was her first album with Virgin Records the company with which she signed a 40 million dollar record contract, which at that time broke the record for the largest record deal ever. "janet." was largely a happy, R&B/pop record which was a mix between upbeat catchy songs and slower more seductive songs. "The Velvet Rope", released four years later was a much darker record, reflective of the sadness Janet was feeling at the time. The album was panned by critics for being too controversial but was a fan favorite. It was and actually still is Janet's most introspective record.
This album embodies so many feelings and emotions: happiness on "Go Deep", hope on "Together Again", regret on "Got 'Til It's Gone", loneliness on "I Get Lonely", anticipation on "Tonight's The Night", pride on "Can't Be Stopped", self realization on "You", horniness on "My Need", emptiness on "Empty", anger on "What About", fear on "Every Time." There are so many subjects that Janet touched on the this album that had been seldom talked about ever in popular music: spousal abuse on "What About", sado-masochism on "Rope Burn", masturbation on "Interlude - Speaker Phone", homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexuality on "Free Xone" and "Tonight's The Night."
My two favorite Janet Jackson songs ever are on this album. "I Get Lonely" and "Rope Burn" are in my opinion two of Janet's best vocal performances coupled with live instruments and Janet's trademark background vocals that ooze sensuality. The title track "Velvet Rope" blends Janet's vocals with a most interesting array of background dings and tingles coupled with classical violinist Vanessa Mae's rousing violin solo that brings the song to its aural and emotional apex. "You" is brilliantly written song whose vamp remained an enigma to me for years until someone explained to me that she was spelling conscience backwards "e-c-n-e-i-c-s-n-o-c."
Besides being conceptually and audibly interesting the visuals for the album were dazzling. The album cover was different than that of her previous albums. It was hardly glamorous just a picture of Janet in a black shirt with frizzy red hair her her head hung slightly down, not looking into the camera. Her name isn't even conspicuously emblazoned across the picture. It is subtly spelled out in a blurred block formation embossed in the top half of the picture. You can only notice it if you tilt it and look at the picture in the light. The pictures inside of Janet sporting her nipple and septum piercings, covered in latex and tied up in bondage were indeed works of art themselves. The videos the Grammy winning, "Got Til' It's Gone" with it's African apartheid theme and "Together Again" set in the jungle in which she hugs herself and touches her own [...], "I Get Lonely" with it's almost futuristic feel and amazing transitions cemented Janet's status as not just a musical but a visual artist.
Many of the themes of the album hit home for me. "Empty", a song about finding love on the internet was quite timely due to the fact that the internet and instant messaging had just started to rise in popularity. The emptiness that she felt when the person she talked to wasn't there and the questioning whether what they had could be real resonated for me as a person who has dated via the internet before. Lyrics such as these spoke right to me:
"I'm rushin' home to turn you on
Sometimes you're there sometimes you're gone
Wait for hours for your return
So tell me please, am I wasting my time?
Your phrases, descriptive, and through the textured words
With beauty, you post it, and use such colored verbs
So tell me you think that maybe we've gone insane?
To find a, a lover and through the words of pain
We've never met, ooh
When I close my eyes, I can see your face
When I lick my lips, I can taste your smile
When I see your name, my heart starts to race
If I can't read your thoughts, then I feel empty"
Songs like "Velvet Rope" and "You" spoke to the self confidence issues I was having with lyrics that brought forth truth and clarity and let me know that I wasn't alone. If a mega superstar like Janet Jackson can wake up sometimes feeling unloved, unworthy and empty and make her way through it, so could I.
You never forget your first love and though many albums have come along since, some poppier, some bluesier, some edgier but "The Velvet Rope" will always be my favorite and have a special irreplaceable place in my heart.
Janet Unloads Her Baggage.
The Groove | Boston, MA | 08/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Velvet Rope" was released during a stage where Janet Jackson was forced to face her innermost demoms which have followed her for much of her lifetime. For the first time ever, Janet came forward and revealed her emotional problems, proving that even the most glamorous of stars have their own crosses to bear. However, they say that work can sometimes be the best therapy, and on "The Velvet Rope," Janet sounds amazingly strong and resilient. She tackles domestic violence on the hard-hitting "What About," makes a touching tribute to those who have succumbed to AIDS on the housed-up "Together Again," and challenges homophobia on "Free Xone." The disc isn't all about doom and gloom, though. Janet sounds even more sexually liberated here, as evidenced on "Go Deep" and her cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night." In the latter song, Jackson still sings the "girl" bit in the lyric, giving this classic song a same-sex twist. Jackson just gets better and better with each record, proving that she's no faceless video artist. "The Velvet Rope" is a funky ride that cements her status as an r&b veteran."
Most Controversial Janet Album Yet!
jshippo2001 | California | 05/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is definately Janet's most intimate and personal album yet. While we had hints of sexuality on Janet (If, The Body That Loves You) and controversial topics on Rhythm Nation, Janet now takes it to the next level. Most people say this album is her most sexual, but there are really only two sexual songs: Rope Burn, which discusses bondage, and Tonight's The Night. The real reason this album was so controversial is the other subject matter. Empty talks about the problems with online relationships, and Janet asks her lover how he can know all about her since he's never seen her. Together Again is her monster hit celebrating her friends who died of AIDS. Free Xone was created to fight homophobia, and is a pro bisexual song. Got Til' Its Gone, and the angry What About have the first major swear words in Janet's songs. Most of the album though is about expressing yourself and the need to feel special. You and Velvet Rope talk about that topic, while Special seems to be a letter to the former Janet discussing how long it's been since she's been in touch with her inner self. This album features outstanding guest artists including Q-Tip, Vanessa Mae and Joni Mitchell, and is full of samples. Some songs include up to three sampled songs in them. Overall, this isn't Janet's best (In my opinion, that title goes to Janet) but this is pretty damn good and will stay in my collection for a very long time."