Sunday, February 24, 2019

The classic that is THE VELVET ROPE

The 90s produced a lot of great music.  Many classic albums of the period, including Nirvana's IN UTERO and Tori Amos' UNDER THE PINK, are from the alternative music genre.  Many are but not all.  One of the decade's best albums is Janet Jackson's THE VELVET ROPE.

The title, for many, stood for sexuality and S&M.  Not for nothing, after all, is there a song entitled "Rope Burn" on the album:

Tie me up, tie me down 
(make me moan real loud) 
Make me moan real loud 
(take off my clothes) 
Take off my clothes 
No one has to know 
Whisperin I wanna feel a soft rope burn 
(no one has to know) 
Wanna feel a 
Rope burn

But The Velvet Rope also refers to the roped off area -- an area we are refused entrance to -- either by others or by ourselves.

Yes, it's a dance album but, yes, it's a deep album.

Marcch 29th, Janet will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and THE VELVET ROPE is one of the reasons.  The album highlights her power and her honesty -- two qualities that even Leslie Moonves couldn't destroy when he tackled his decade war against her after her Superbowl appearance.

It's about freedom, as song after song makes clear.  From "Free Xone:"

Free. . . 
Next song? 
Ohhhh boy 
Mama Yoke 
That used to be my nickname 
He was on a airplane 
Sittin next to this guy 
Said he wasn't too shy 
And he seemed real nice 
Until he found out he was gay 
That's so not mellow 
Let's get free. . . 
Let's get free 
Let's get free 
Now make it mellow 
Now make it mellow 
Xone 1 
Boy meets boy 
Boy loses boy 
Boy gets cute boy back 
Girl meets girl 
Girl loses girl 
Girl gets cute girl back 
One rule 
No rules 
One love 
Let's get free. . . 
Let's get free 
Let's get free 
Now make it mellow 
Now make it mellow

"What About"?

The song not only explores what it's like to be the victim, it acknowledges how we victimize others.  All to a slamming chorus and the obvious truth of "What about the time you said you didn't f**k her, she only gave you head?"  It's a question that, during the 90s, you could have even asked a sitting president, though you'd have to wait a year after the album's release for the US to learn about Monica Lewinsky.

But there are soft songs as well, like her cover of Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night."

Those are some great songs.  But they weren't singles.

The singles were "Got 'Til It's Gone."

The singles were "Every Time."

The singles were "I Get So Lonely."

And the singles especially were "Together Again."

15 tracks plus interludes, THE VELVET ROPE is a slamming album that reveals more depth than most of Janet's contemporaries would offer in a lifetime.

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