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Record Rating: ***1/2

Janet Jackson - Damita Jo Janet Jackson is back, bigger and better than ever - write her off at your peril. It wasnít easy getting out of the shadow of being superstar Michael Jacksonís sibling, but little sister Janet made it. After a stint as a child actor and one flop album, Jackson hooked up with producers Jimmy "Jam" Harris and Terry Lewis, who had something to prove themselves after working for Prince, since they'd been fired from his side project The Time. The album went straight to #1, and so has every album sheís done since.

On her eighth studio album - Damita Jo - (the titleís lifted from her middle name) Jackson once again teams up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on what is perhaps one of her better efforts since she went all pop on the last one. And one thing is for sure - the innocent Janet of the 1980ís is gone for good. The first single - Just A Little While - is in the top ten the world over and itís already got the fans excited with its sexy video. Being in the spotlight just before this album got released didnít hurt sales either - the album is currently riding high in the American charts at number five, after occupying the number one spot. Largely thanks to the fact that Jackson's right breast was seen by millions on TV after Justin Timberlake pulled at her bodice in what was a planned "costume reveal" during a duet at the US Super bowl last month. After the outrage that nipple-gate instigated and the ongoing problems with her brother Michael Ė there was a fair bit of pressure on the Jackson camp on the outcome of this new release.

On the 22 tracks, Janet and her team of top producers just recycle old ideas: incongruous samples, frothy dance-pop and needlessly graphic seduction numbers - and if this was an album by any other artist - you probably wouldn't even notice it. And itís a sad thing, for her album 1986ís Control is one of those records that's been so widely copied; it's hard to remember what a breakthrough it was when it first came out.

A few memorable moments do turn up on the down-tempo Thinkin' Bout My Ex, (her collaboration with Babyface) - and Strawberry Bounce (which features a cameo sample from rapper Jay Z) Ė but thatís about it. Long time fans may enjoy it, but don't be surprised if it's not what you expected.

Read our other reviews:

Guns N Roses - Greatest Hits       Lionel Ritchie - Just For You      Courtney Love - America's Sweetheart       Fountains Of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers


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