It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 25 years since the release of Whitney Houston’s self-entitled debut album that catapulted her to fame. To celebrate the occasion, Arista Records/Legacy Recordings have released a deluxe anniversary edition of the record, titled, quite simply, Whitney Houston: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition.
Why reinvent the wheel when it works fine, right?
It comes packaged in the same cover as the original album, includes all the songs from the original album, all of which have been remastered. I have to say that, compared to the original album (which like so many others has been long ago pressed on CD), this one does have a crystal quality to its sound that brings out Whitney’s voice out even more (if such a thing is possible).
The CD also includes a couple of bonus tracks such as the dance remix of “Thinking about you”, the dance remix of “Someone for Me”, both the acappella and dance version of “How Will I know” and a live rendition of “The Greatest Love of All”. The remixes are a nice addition to the album, but the real treat remains the acappella version of “How Will I Know” – not only because it’s my favourite song on the album, but also because hearing Whitney’s voice alone is always a treat.
The cover doubles up as a booklet including a message from Whitney to her fans (“I could have never done this without the support, encouragement and unconditional love from my fans all over the world”) as well as an interview of Clive Davis (the Arista Records producer who signed on Whitney Houston) by Alan Light.
I was mildly amused by the fact that the booklet also included the lyrics to all the songs in the album, as fans probably not only know these lyrics, but have hashed and rehashed their meaning and used them quite frequently in their own speech. However it was a nice added touch for anyone discovering this album for the first time. And I have to admit it annoys me that many new albums don’t include this feature.
But the real treat in this package is the DVD, which includes an interview, a couple of video clips, and a couple of live performances by a young Whitney Houston.
The ten-minute ‘conversation’ with Whitney and Clive was really well done: a chronological overview of Whitney’s early career interspersed with clips of the live shows, video clips, and original interviews. There are also pictures of both Whitney and Clive during those times, which makes for a great trip down memory lane for those who remember 1985 and Whitney’s shooting up to superstardom. It also makes for a great lesson in early Whitney history for those of us who, although we grew up with her songs, don’t quite remember how she got there in the first place.
The following 30 minutes or so is a series of Whitney’s performances and clips, starting with the 1983 performance of her single “Home” on The Merv Griffin Show. It’s really amazing to hear her at the very beginning of her singing career, when she already had her amazing, goosebumps giving voice and yet the inexperience and lack of polish are clear. In an era of over the top performances and video clips, it’s quite refreshing to go back to some of Whitney’s best songs presented in a simple way. After all, her voice alone is more than enough to make a song a hit without the extra trappings.
Whatever you might think of Whitney Houston’s personal life, there is no doubt that her voice is amazing and all it takes is a listen to this, her first album, to remember why, twenty-five years later, it’s worth every penny to purchase.
First published here on Blogcritics.