After Control and Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson had quite a lot to live up to. Anyone who expected Jackson to top Rhythm Nation -- her crowning achievement and an incredibly tough act to follow -- was being unrealistic. But with janet., she delivered a respectable offering that, although not as strong as either Control or Nation, has many strong points. As before, Jackson is joined by the prolific Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis team, and their input is valuable on everything from the angry "This Time" and the hypnotic "That's the Way Love Goes" to the '60s-flavored "What'll I Do" and the sociopolitical "The New Agenda" (which features Public Enemy leader Chuck D). But perhaps the CD's most exciting track is "Funky Big Band," which samples jazz legend Lionel Hampton's 1938 big-band classic "I'm in the Mood for Swing" with thrilling results. There are a few throwaways (including the lightweight ballad "Again"), but despite its shortcomings, janet. is a welcome addition to her catalog.