Friday, October 24, 2014

Janet Jackson - Dream Street

Yesterday (October 23rd) marked the thirtieth anniversary of Dream Street, the second studio album from Janet Jackson. Despite Janet’s ongoing role as Cleo Hewitt on season 4 of the TV show Fame, the album only spent six weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 147. It did get to number 19 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The album had four producers – her brother Marlon Jackson, Jesse Johnson of the Time, and disco greats Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte (who guided many of Donna Summer’s biggest hits).

Side one begins with “Don’t Stand Another Chance”, the album’s first single. It went to number 101 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 23 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 9 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The track has a strong, slamming beat that serves as a precursor to the kinds of dance tracks Janet would deliver later in the decade.

Cliff Richard joins Janet on the duet “Two to the Power of Love”. As a single, it went to number 83 in the UK and number 7 in South Africa. On Fame, Janet performed it with Jesse Borrego. I think that might have been the first and only place I had heard the song.

“Pretty Boy” is the first of two Jesse Johnson penned tracks on the record. It has elements of that early 80’s Minneapolis sound to it – the rolling drums and the synths. At six and a half minutes, it is the record’s longest cut. It gives the band lots of room to jam.

The title track “Dream Street” is next. The song was released as the final single from the album, and its music video was taken from the show Fame. Janet’s vocals are still developing at this point; they are lighter and a little unsure – unlike what would come with her next album.

Side two opens with “Communication”, an up-beat synth-pop dance track about the breakdown of communication between a couple living in the emergent computer age.

The third single “Fast Girls”, also written by Johnson, stalled at number 40 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“Hold Back the Tears” has more of a pop-rock edge to it.

If “All My Love to You” sounds a lot like a song Janet’s brothers might have recorded, you can attribute that to the writing and producing of brother Marlon. I think it would have been right at home on brother Michael’s Off the Wall album.

The album closes with “If It Takes All Night”, a slinky and seductive mid-tempo groove.

I was a Fame fan from the first season, and I enjoyed Janet on Good Times for many years prior to that. Still, her early albums never hit my collection during the 80’s. It was only a few months ago when I actually picked up Dream Street for my digital music library. Overall, this one is not bad as it shows her style evolving and growing. It is definitely worth hunting down for a listen if you like dance-centric pop music from the 80’s.

For more of Janet Jackson, click here.

No comments: