"Miss Jackson if you're nasty" announces the release of a DANCE-oriented album and something like ten billion copies fly out of the stores in the first week. Then word gets out that NO, it's NOT dance-oriented... sales slag immediately and Jackson goes on a high-octane world tour, getting injured or sick in just about every other city (it seems) trying to prove how dancey the album can be.
Now All For Youis very, very good stuff. If, say, Mandy Moore came up with it she would move up from "divette" to... whatever they call Toni Braxton. But Jackson is one of the Top-5-Queen-of-the-World-and-the-Moon-Divas who, before her 1997 anti-Prozac release The Velvet Rope, had Britney Spears' current job: make 'em DAI-YANCE.
The three dance songs are fantastic. There's the summer-dance-song masterpiece "Doesn't Really Matter" (with a truly funky Rockwilder remix dropped in the middle, brilliant) from the movie soundtrack of The Nutty Professor II. The title song that drove those ten billion copies right out of stores is somewhere out in the front followed by soon-to-be-club smash "Come On Get Up", building up a lot of anticipation for the (considerable) remainder of the album.
There's a long chunk of what Jackson calls "baby-making songs"... "When We OOOO", "China Love", "Love Scene (Ooh Baby)" and "Would You Mind"... that sound practically indistinguishable from one another except "China Love" with its tinkly oriental bells. They're NICE, and (not to give anything away) the interlude after "Would You Mind" that finishes the whole thing is hilarious, but the sequence is a let-down after the raucous opening. Besides, the baby-making songs on janet. are much better. Fans report having developed the habit of skipping this part entirely when giving All For You a spin.
There are two "rockers" that sound ready to be remixed into dance songs should they ever be considered for singles release: "You Ain't Right" and "Trust ATry" plays with electronic textures and does interesting things with Jackson's voice. I think they're neat, but they don't seem to be popular with her older fans. A bizarre-cool song is "Son Of A Gun (I Betcha Think This Song is About You)" that samples from Carly Simon's 1970's hit "You're So Vain". Simon and Jackson practically duet as Jackson sings vituperative phrases seemingly referring to her ex-husband Rene Elizondo (knowledge of Jackson's dramatic biography is essential to understanding her music) and Simon drops cryptic lines about "clouds in my coffee" and "nothing in the song refers to Mick [Jagger]."
The album ends with a beautiful ballad titled "Better Days" where it's easy to imagine clouds lifting and light filtering through. But you've got to wonder; is this it? She blew our minds with Control and the Rhythm Nation 1814 singles but it's been somewhat plateau-ing from there. The Janet-Flyte Time combo is getting old. What's beyond being Diva on the Moon?