Today’s POP RESCUE from a potential loveless future, is the 2001 seventh album All For You from American singer Janet Jackson. Was this album All For You, or is it just a load of self-indulgent twaddle? Read on…
This 20 track album opens with Intro – one of the 6 short interludes of 1m or less that make this album appear much longer than it really is. This is a common Janet Jackson track listing ‘trick’, which she previously did on hit album Janet. This track is a conversation between Janet and someone else in the studio with occasional words from producer Jimmy Jam.
This then gives way to the first real track You Ain’t Right, which musically sounds like where her brother Michael Jackson should have evolved to by this time. Janet’s vocals switch here from breathy to robotised. Whilst the beats and synth pitch this in the 2000s, there is definitely a slightly 80s sound to it, that could place it on her Control (1986) album.
The thumping beat of hit lead single and title track – All For You – then comes busting in. Its slinky disco bassline, guitar, and piano is perfect, although completely borrowed via a sample of The Glow Of Love by Change. This is a great song – the sample works alongside the modern beat, with Janet’s vocals and the vocal harmonies making this a wonderfully warm and catchy song. This song has become one of her biggest ever hits.
Blending seamlessly in is 2WayForYou which leads in with the sound of All For You as a pager tone. This 20s interlude deals with Janet receiving a pager message.
Come On Get Up is next, and this is another song with a strong beat. It’s a pretty catchy song, and Janet and her backing vocalists makes light work of the vocals here over a lot of tabla (?) percussion. I could easily imagine this being tucked away on an Eternal album. This was the fourth and final single from the album.
This is followed by When We Oooo, which is a slow ballad, giving Janet the perfect place to showcase her more delicate vocals. The song is built up by some nice warm synth soundscapes. Even thought the song is minimal, with occasional finger snaps and backing vocals, it manages to build up and back down without dropping a beat in. I bet an a cappella performance of this song with just Janet and her backing vocalists would be wonderful.
Up next is China Love which is made from rich with oriental sounding synths and percussion overlaid on a RnB beat. The song itself kind of wafts over this, and it’s just a nice track – nothing particularly memorable. The track closes with a rain storm and wind chimes.
The storm gives way to next track Love Scene (Ooh Baby), which is another slow ballad, which just kind of wanders through Janet’s lyrics of having sex. This theme undeniably continues in Would You Mind, with lyrics including ‘Baby would you mind tasting me it’s making me all juicy‘. Although, this song has more substance musically. The sexual content of this album caused it to receive bans in a number of countries.
A well earned interlude is up next in the form of Lame (Interlude), which presumably lets everyone take a shower or smoke a cigarette, but instead it gives Janet the opportunity to complain about ejaculation.
Next up is the much faster, rockier Trust A Try, taking a sound that’s really strong and dramatic. Janet’s vocals are great here – she has both an affected vocal and a breathy vocal line. The snarling guitar really pushes the track along and also breaks free for a bit to show off a fantastic solo, whilst the flurries of strings create a perfect duel that builds up and up and up.
Clouds (Interlude) is up next, featuring none other than Carly Simon in the studio with Janet. This 20s interlude leads perfectly into the next song.
Taking a step back through Carly‘s back catalogue, see’s Janet collaborate with her on Son Of A Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You), complete with re-sung excerpt from Carly’s hit You’re So Vain and additional new lines. By the time that this song saw release as the third single, Missy Elliot had joined in, and Carly’s rapping has stepped back a bit. The video is quite good.
Next up is fourteenth track Truth, which sees Janet pitched against a slinky slow beat, bass line, and keys. This is a nice mid-tempo song, but it doesn’t really stand out from the other ones like it here.
This is followed by the 26s long Theory (Interlude) with Janet and Jimmy trying to work our whether they’re going to stop for lunch. Sounds like Jimmy wants to continue.
The next track opens with a wonderful summer sounding acoustic guitar courtesy of a sample of America‘s song Ventura Highway look for second single Someone To Call My Lover. This is a wonderful song, and far more pop than most of the rest of the album so far (All For You aside). Janet’s vocal really feels warm and rich here, and pitched against that acoustic guitar sample and the unintrusive light beats, makes this a delight to listen to.
A slow RnB track in the form of Feels So Right is up next, and it’s a smooth, warm song. Janet’s vocals are delicate here alongside some nice vocal harmonies. This is a nice track but it doesn’t really stand out amongst some of the earlier tracks.
Next up is the inclusion of previous hit Doesn’t Really Matter – which had featured only on the soundtrack to her film with Eddie Murphy – Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (2000). This is a really good track, and unsurprisingly this reached #5 in the UK singles chart (but #1 in the US).
Penultimate track Better Days is a really great song. It’s a warm and delicate song that pitches Janet against strings and acoustic guitars. She shines here, and this ballad is probably the best one of the many that feature on this album. It closes with some great backing vocals and a lovely string section that carry the song out into the final of the interludes.
The album closes with Outro which sees Janet asking someone what they think of the album, and says she hopes everyone else will like it.
This is a good album, but it’s pretty long. The mid-section of this album is another collection songs during which a Jackson daughter has or explicitly hints at having sex (Janet did this in Control, and her sister La Toya Jackson has made whole albums about having sex).
Whilst these may have been important to Janet at the time – as she had divorced her long-term husband – here, they are just a little too uncomfortable, and somewhat embarrassing to listen to.
Trim most of those songs out, and a few of the weaker ballads, and bring the album down to about 13-15 tracks (with interludes), and I think that this would have made this album much more listenable.
When it’s good, it’s brilliant. When it’s weak, it’s forgettable.
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 2001 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK POSITION: #2, certified Gold.
- POP RESCUE COST: 50p from The Money Tree pawnbrokers