CD Review: Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition
Arista/Legacy
By David Chiu

When one thinks about the superstar female singers of today, from Mariah Carey to Alicia Keys, a tremendous part of their success and style was in no doubt influenced by Whitney Houston and her debut album. Released 25 years ago when Houston was just barely into her 20s, this smash self-titled record really launched Houston’s career, which is putting it mildly as evidenced by its multiplatinum sales. It has something for everybody: gorgeous Quiet Storm tunes (“Saving All My Love For You,” “You Give Good Love”), lush ballads (“Hold Me,” a duet with the late great Teddy Pendergrass; and “The Greatest Love of All”) and dance fare (“How Will I Know,” which still absolutely kicks). Certainly the production and the songs –helmed by the legendary Clive Davis–all played a factor in the album’s meteoric success but the true star is Houston with her confident and soaring gospel-inflected vocals. This wasn’t the voice of an ingénue but of a professional emerging superstar. Houston continued to have major hits throughout her now-legendary career but they’ll never quite match the unique and special qualities of the debut. Twenty-five years later, Whitney Houston is still timeless. This special reissue edition also contains a DVD of the album’s videos and a mini-documentary with Houston and Davis explaining the period leading up to and around the album’s release. Noteworthy is footage of Houston’s singing appearance on The Merv Griffin show in 1983 two years before the album, and it just smokes.

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