Pre-Control Janet wasn’t bad.
Before JJ’s Jam/Lewis-assisted breakthrough, she recorded two albums. The second of the two, 1984′s Dream Street, was a bit messy and unfocused. Her self-titled 1982 debut, though? It’s not…I mean it isn’t The Velvet Rope, but it’s a solid piece of early ‘80s dance/boogie/funk, contemporaneous with what acts like Shalamar (whose Howard Hewett contributed backing vocals to the track we’re discussing here) and Evelyn “Champagne” King were doing at the time. In terms of 1982 Jackson albums, it’s not as good as Thriller (I mean, come on now) but is significantly better than Jermaine’s Let Me Tickle Your Fancy.
“Come Give Your Love to Me” was Janet Jackson’s highlight, and it found her embracing a bit of a purple aesthetic four years before Jimmy & Terry came into the picture (and two years before working with Time guitarist Jesse Johnson on a couple of tracks from Dream Street.) From a musical standpoint, “Come Give Your Love…” could’ve been an outtake from Prince’s Dirty Mind. It’s got high-end synthesizers and low-slung guitar (and an awesome-lengthy!-solo that serves as the bridge). Janet’s singing is girlish but authoritative. Lyrically, it would be quite a few years before Miss Jackson approached anything Mr. Nelson was doing at his sleazy peak, and I think Joe Jackson would’ve given songwriter Foster Sylvers (of the “Boogie Fever” Sylvers) a piece of his mind had he even attempted to make the lyrics suggestive.
I would’ve pegged this as a top ten R&B hit, but according to Wikipedia, “Come Give Your Love to Me” peaked at #17. I also would’ve totally been okay with Janet doing more songs in this style, but she didn’t really revisit this aesthetic again until she dropped the glorious “Just a Little While” as the first single from the ill-fated Damita Jo project in 2004.