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Janet Jackson Is Back In Control

Singer Janet Jackson poses during a photo-call to promote her new album in Berlin, in this July 26, 2006, file photo.
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
In case you've forgotten about the many magical moments in Janet Jackson's illustrious career, she's ready to remind you of each one — if you buy her new CD.

In the booklet and the artwork accompanying "20 Y.O." — which, not so coincidentally, celebrates the 20th anniversary of her breakthrough album, "Control" — there are photo montages of the superstar at her most popular.

The images recall her socially conscious "Rhythm Nation" era, the sexy "Janet" album phase, her emotionally painful "Velvet Rope" stage and her sexually charged "All for You" days.

Of course, perhaps her most famous picture — Jackson's infamous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" — is not included. And after disappointing sales of her last album, released a few weeks after the 2004 Super Bowl, Jackson is hoping that image won't end up defining her formerly white-hot career.

"I think she feels very rejuvenated," says Jimmy Jam, her longtime collaborator. "She feels like in a way she's 20 years old again; that it is sort of a rebirth for her, a restart."

Jackson, now 40, has been one of music's most bankable, captivating and enduring stars since 1986's "Control" — the album that showed she wasn't just Michael Jackson's baby sister but a dazzling entertainer in her own right. Since then, Jackson has racked up a string of multiplatinum albums and No. 1 hits. Her influence — from her acrobatic dance moves to her birdlike singing voice — can be seen in the careers of artists ranging from Britney Spears to Ciara.

But Jackson hasn't had a bona fide smash since 2001's "All For You."

"Damita Jo," her last album, was supposed to re-establish Jackson at the top of the charts after a three-year break. But it was released soon after the uproar over her nipple flash during the Super Bowl halftime show (which she insists was accidental). For the first time in her career, Jackson had to weather a barrage of bad publicity and ill will.

MTV stopped playing her videos; radio cooled to her music. But perhaps most troubling for Jackson, few seemed to miss her absence from the spotlight. The most attention she got was of a tabloid nature, including for her substantial weight gain (which she has since shed, along with most of her clothing, as her plethora of current magazine covers indicate).

Jackson's new album, out Tuesday, is an attempt to restore her image as a sexy, vivacious hitmaker. But while she still owns sexy, the charts may be another story.

Her new single, the midtempo groove "Call On Me" featuring raps from Nelly, got lackluster radio play when it debuted a few weeks ago, though it rebounded on black radio and went to No. 1 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart.

"She has more of the steady stable fan bases I've ever seen in recorded music," said Stephen Hill, an executive vice president at BET, where Jackson has been in heavy rotation. "It's always a testament to someone's strength and longevity when they can actually make records that people care about 20 years later."