The powerhouse production team details their sessions for the singer’s breakout 1986 album, Control.
35 years after its release, Janet Jackson‘s third studio album, Control, remains a pivotal moment in the singer’s career. Marking a departure in both her management and tone as an artist, Control set a new trajectory for Jackson’s career and mapped out a blueprint for leading black women in music all at once.
In celebration of the album’s 35th-anniversary, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis outlined Jackson’s path to Control and the ways they aided her artistic breakout in a new video. The clip commences with Jimmy Jam recounting the very first session for the album. “The Control album was about a six-week project from start to finish. She came to Minneapolis and other than three of us and John McClain, nobody knew we were making a record. And quite honestly, I don’t think anybody cared we were making a record,” Jam recalls, referring to the lukewarm reception to Jackson’s previous two albums. “I think on Control, she realized that it was going to be about things she was thinking, as opposed to the first two albums were basically people just handing her music and saying ‘sing’,” the producer adds.
Jam goes on to note how integral the synthesizers drum machines used on the album were to shaping its sound, showcasing an array of keyboards and sequencers (Roger Linn’s LinnDrum, specifically,) from the Flyte Tyme studio. “I think she wanted to use music, in a way, to really unite people and to inform people, but never lost sight of how music should also be a place to have fun and fall in love,” Jam concludes.
Control was released on February 4, 1986, shooting to the top slot of Billboard’s Albums Chart. The album earned Jackson her the Grammy for “Album of The Year,” while Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis took home the award for “Producer of The Year, Non-Classical.”
Watch Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis break down the creation of Janet Jackson’s Control below.