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Forums > Associated artists & people > Key Tracks: Jimmy Jam on Janet Jackson’s Control
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Thread started 07/08/17 10:22am


Key Tracks: Jimmy Jam on Janet Jackson’s Control


After the lackluster performance of her first two albums, what made you and Terry Lewis believe that you could work with Janet and change the musical direction for this album?

Well, the big thing on the first two Janet albums was that you could tell that they were good, solid albums. They had some really great producers working on those records like Rene and Angela, Jesse Johnson and Giorgio Moroder. The biggest thing was she didn’t have any involvement in the creative process. What we were doing back then and what we’ve always done was tailor the songs, specifically, for an artist. Our approach with her wasn’t any different.

She was a big fan of The Time, so I think she was excited that we were going to be working on her record. At an initial meeting, though, they made the mistake of playing her the last project we worked on with Patti Austin. Patti Austin’s record was going to be different than the record we were going to make with Janet. Janet was concerned when she heard that record because it had live orchestral instruments. We were basically making a Quincy Jones record. For Patti Austin, we created what we thought Patti Austin should have, which was this lush, sophisticated sound. Janet kind of questioned it because she didn’t want her record to sound like that. We had to assure her that her record was going to have her own sound on it. It made her feel better about working with us.

I always remember one thing her dad said. He asked us, “You guys are from Minneapolis?” We responded, “Yes, Mr. Jackson.” He said, “Prince is from Minneapolis.” We responded, “Yes. He is, Mr. Jackson.” He said, “Don’t have my daughter sounding like Prince.” [laughs]

There is a ton more behind the source, including using the Linn-1, new keyboards, etc. He talks about how Prince used to record +6db above the middle, so the first two Time records were always in the red at +12db, but Prince used the high levels as distortion. That didn't work for Janet, and Steve Hodge dipped in to save Janet's record. For techies, it's a very cool read.

This experience will cover courtship, sex, commitment, fetishes, loneliness, vindication, love, and hate.
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