JJ Velvet Rope

REVIEW: ‘The Velvet Rope’ – Janet Jackson

“The Velvet Rope”: a retrospective review of Janet Jackson’s 1997 album.

by Mark Keen

Janet returned in 1997 with her sixth album, the opus which is “The Velvet Rope”. This was another hit filled collection with five singles released in various territories and perhaps Janet’s biggest and most memorable hit with “Together Again”. The album covered a number of themes and dealt with some of Janet’s more personal demons, such as depression and anxiety. It would go on to sell over ten million copies around the world.

The first single ‘got “Til It’s Gone” featured guest vocals from Joni Mitchell and rapper Q-Tip and a classic video depicting a pre-apartheid South Africa. The single which included aspects of “Big Yellow Taxi” was certainly a change of style, and whilst some describe it as a ‘masterpiece’ other reviewers felt that Janet did not have much to do and there were few remixes. Nevertheless it was a worldwide hit, although not commercially released in the US. Des’ree felt her debut hit “Feel So High” was interpolated into “Got ’til It’s Gone” and eventually gained a song-writing credit and a few quid. I can’t hear the similarities myself!

Janet would then release the magical “Together Again” which is one of the best selling singles ever topping sales of six million and hitting the number one spot in the US. I remember the single hanging around for months in the UK with Top Of The Pops still showing Janet’s performance from Christmas 1997 the following March (or was it February?), spending ten weeks in the top ten. Janet had written the song as a tribute to a friend she lost to AIDS. Check out the ‘deeper remix’ video as well for a slower version of the track.

The third single off the album would be “I Get So Lonely” and the remix included a performance by Blackstreet. The single would hit number 3 in the US and number 5 in the UK as well as hitting the charts across the world. The song had an R&B vibe rather than the more usual dance-pop of the previous single. We all share these feelings of loneliness and abandonment at times.

“Go Deep” received a more mixed response, and was not commercially released in the US. Nevertheless it would hit number 13 in the UK and the video is simple, but good fun. Similarly the final single “Every Time” would not be a huge commercial success missing the top 40 altogether in the UK, but it was the fifth single. I picked it up for 49p in the bargain bin in Andy’s Records in East Yorkshire. It is accompanied by a stunning video.

There are many fabulous tracks on the album to check out, including an unlikely, but beguiling cover of Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s The Night” as well as appearance from Vanessa-Mae and even an appearance of the Exorcist theme (Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield). The album was arguably Janet’s most personal record to date. I was lucky enough to catch Janet on tour in Sheffield, UK, supported by Another Level. It was an amazing tour. This really was Janet at her peak!

For all Janet Jackson’s album reviews, news and much more click here

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Written by

So perhaps you’ve read an article or two that I’ve written and wondered “just who is this character?”! Well I thought maybe it would be time to introduce myself and what I’m all about. Well it’s all about the music! Having been born in the late 1970’s I was heavily influenced by my parent’s love of ‘popular’ music and rock and roll of the 1950’s and 60’s. My Mother always said she should of married Elvis and my father was, and is still, in love with Sandie Shaw! But while my Dad’s tastes stopped in about 1967, my Mum carried on loving music throughout the 70’s, 80’s and beyond. My first memory was playing on the floor whilst my Mother was ironing one day with the radio on, and hearing ABBA’s “Super Trouper” dancing my nappy off to it! Maybe that’s where it all went wrong…?! Having been subjected to all and sundry in my infant years, I finally found my feet in the mid-1980’s and began ‘partying’ to the likes of Culture Club, Stevie Wonder(!), Elkie Brooks and Bananarama to name but a few! The year 1987 would have a profound effect on my listening tastes and from thereon in my life would be dominated with buying and listening to music. Any number of outstanding songs were released and listened to that year, most notably “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “La Isla Bonita”. That Summer my mind was completely taken over with music and sounds I’d never heard before and I was totally taken in by it all. My father would say “whaaar rubbish you got on naaaaao?” (I’m from Norfolk!) but I was hooked. And it continued so for the rest of the decade and the next. At the beginning of 1988 I ‘met’ my true love and the singer I’ve worshipped more than any other artist or group. You may know of her. She’s from Australia…! Aside from pop music, my tastes are many and varied and continues to grow and expand as I ‘mature’ in age. I’ve always been heavily interested in films and in particular the mechanics of film making and of course film music, so scores and subsequently orchestral music takes up a lot of my tastes and collection. 90’s dance and club tunes also takes up much of the space in my head and I’m surprised my brain has stopped shaking from the years of abuse it took being dragged to nightclubs, often three times a week in my 20’s! I find with each year that passes I regress back to my youth and of course the 1980’s. 80’s music dominates and the lust to see as many 80’s acts and singers play live now is insatiable. I’m still getting into the groove as much as every breath I take, but I’m never gonna give up listening to my heart and pumping up the volume, simply because I LOVE MUSIC…any kind of music!

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