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Whitney Houston|Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

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As big a hit as it was -- and it was a multi-platinum blockbuster, spinning off several chart-toppers -- it’s not easy to think of Whitney Houston’s 1985 debut as the dawning of a new era, but it was. Arriving in the thick of MTV, when the slick sounds of yacht-soul were fading, Whitney Houston is the foundation of diva-pop, straddling clean, cheery R&B and big ballads designed with the adult contemporary audience in mind. Houston’s background lay in the former -- actually, it was even riskier, encompassing a stint with the experimental Bill Laswell outfit Material -- and her benefactor Clive Davis knew all about selling records to the masses. Appealing as this album is, Davis may never have imagined how Whitney Houston would shift tastes, pushing toward skyscraping ballads where the singer’s affectations, not the songs, were paramount -- a move that later led to hollow records, but on Whitney Houston the songs were as important as the immaculate productions. Certainly, the showstopping “Greatest Love of All” provided the blueprint for decades of divas, but it’s the only overblown moment here, with the rest of the ballads -- notably “Saving All My Love for You” and “You Give Good Love” -- burning slowly and seductively, but what really impresses some 20-plus years on are the lighter tracks, particularly the breakthrough single “How Will I Know” and the unheralded “Thinking About You,” a dance/R&B hit co-written by Kashif that remains one of Whitney’s purest pop pleasures. These joyful, rhythmic moments faded away from Houston’s later work -- and also rarely surfaced on the records of those who followed her -- but their presence on this debut turns this into a fully rounded record, the rare debut that manages to telegraph every aspect of an artist's career in a mere ten songs. [The 2010 25th anniversary edition of Whitney Houston is expanded with five bonus tracks -- remixes of “Thinking About You,” “Someone for Me,” “How Will I Know,” a live version of “Greatest Love of All” from 1990, and a superfluous a cappella mix of “How Will I Know” -- and a bonus DVD containing music videos from the album, new interviews, and -- best of all -- Whitney’s star-making 1983 performance on The Merv Griffin Show.]
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

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1
You Give Good Love
Whitney Houston
00:04:36

Ira Siegal, PerformerKashif, ProducerKashif, PerformerKashif, ArrangerYogi Lee, PerformerWhitney Houston, PerformerMichael O'Reilly, EngineerMichael O'Reilly, Mixing EngineerLa La, PerformerLala, ComposerLala, LyricistClive Davis, Executive ProducerBashiri Johnson, PerformerRoy Wooten, PerformerJoe Tinker Lewis, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

2
Thinking About You
Whitney Houston
00:05:24

Michael O'Reilly, EngineerMichael O'Reilly, Mixing EngineerLala, ComposerLala, LyricistKashif, ComposerKashif, LyricistKashif, ArrangerKashif, ProducerWhitney Houston, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

3
Someone For Me
Whitney Houston
00:04:59

Jermaine Jackson, ProducerMichael O'Reilly, Mixing EngineerOran 'Juice' Jones, ComposerOran 'Juice' Jones, LyricistBilly Bottrell, Mixing EngineerWashington, ComposerWashington, LyricistWhitney Houston, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

4
Saving All My Love for You
Whitney Houston
00:03:57

Clive Davis, Executive ProducerRussell Schmitt, EngineerMichael Mancini, EngineerTom Scott, SaxophoneMichael Masser, ProducerMichael Masser, ComposerMichael Masser, LyricistGerry Goffin, ComposerGerry Goffin, LyricistBill Schnee, Mixing EngineerWhitney Houston, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

5
Nobody Loves Me Like You Do
Whitney Houston with Jermaine Jackson
00:03:46

John Phillips, ComposerJohn Phillips, LyricistWhitney Houston with Jermaine Jackson, PerformerJermaine Jackson, ProducerMichael O'Reilly, Mixing EngineerBilly Bottrell, Mixing EngineerDunne, ComposerDunne, Lyricist

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

6
How Will I Know
Whitney Houston
00:04:29

Cissy Houston, PerformerShannon Rubicam, ComposerShannon Rubicam, LyricistRandy Jackson, PerformerNarada Michael Walden, ProducerNarada Michael Walden, ArrangerNarada Michael Walden, PerformerCorrado Rustici, PerformerGeorge Merrill, ComposerGeorge Merrill, LyricistYvonne Lewis, PerformerWhitney Houston, PerformerPreston Glass, PerformerMike Barbiero, Mixing EngineerMike Barbiero, EngineerPremik Russell Tubbs, PerformerMary Canty, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

7
All At Once
Whitney Houston
00:04:28

Clive Davis, Executive ProducerJeffrey Osborne, ComposerJeffrey Osborne, LyricistMichael Masser, ComposerMichael Masser, LyricistMichael Masser, ProducerBill Schnee, Mixing EngineerWhitney Houston, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

8
Take Good Care of My Heart
Whitney Houston with Jermaine Jackson
00:04:15

Ed Greene, PerformerSteve Rucker, PerformerJermaine Jackson, ProducerJermaine Jackson, PerformerGreg Phillinganes, PerformerWhitney Houston with Jermaine Jackson, PerformerJohn "J.R." Robinson, PerformerPete McCann, ComposerPete McCann, LyricistJohn Barnes, PerformerReady Freddie Washington, PerformerNathan East, PerformerPaul Jackson Jr., PerformerTim May, PerformerDavid Williams, PerformerBilly Bottrell, Mixing EngineerSteve Dorff, ComposerSteve Dorff, LyricistErnie Watts, Performer

(P) 1984 Arista Records LLC

9
Greatest Love of All
Whitney Houston
00:04:57

Bill Schnee, Mixing EngineerJulia Waters, PerformerDann Huff, PerformerRobbie Buchanan, PerformerRandy Kerber, PerformerMaxine Waters, PerformerRussell Schmitt, EngineerLou Shelton, PerformerLinda Creed, ComposerLinda Creed, LyricistPaul Jackson Jr., PerformerDebbie Thomas, PerformerNathan East, PerformerWhitney Houston, PerformerMichael Masser, ComposerMichael Masser, LyricistMichael Masser, ProducerRichard Marx, PerformerClive Davis, Executive ProducerMichael Mancini, EngineerOren Waters, Performer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

10
Hold Me
Whitney Houston with Teddy Pendergrass
00:06:02

Whitney Houston with Teddy Pendergrass, PerformerLinda Creed, ComposerLinda Creed, LyricistMichael Masser, ProducerMichael Messer, ComposerMichael Messer, LyricistBill Schnee, Mixing Engineer

(P) 1985 Arista Records LLC

Album Description

As big a hit as it was -- and it was a multi-platinum blockbuster, spinning off several chart-toppers -- it’s not easy to think of Whitney Houston’s 1985 debut as the dawning of a new era, but it was. Arriving in the thick of MTV, when the slick sounds of yacht-soul were fading, Whitney Houston is the foundation of diva-pop, straddling clean, cheery R&B and big ballads designed with the adult contemporary audience in mind. Houston’s background lay in the former -- actually, it was even riskier, encompassing a stint with the experimental Bill Laswell outfit Material -- and her benefactor Clive Davis knew all about selling records to the masses. Appealing as this album is, Davis may never have imagined how Whitney Houston would shift tastes, pushing toward skyscraping ballads where the singer’s affectations, not the songs, were paramount -- a move that later led to hollow records, but on Whitney Houston the songs were as important as the immaculate productions. Certainly, the showstopping “Greatest Love of All” provided the blueprint for decades of divas, but it’s the only overblown moment here, with the rest of the ballads -- notably “Saving All My Love for You” and “You Give Good Love” -- burning slowly and seductively, but what really impresses some 20-plus years on are the lighter tracks, particularly the breakthrough single “How Will I Know” and the unheralded “Thinking About You,” a dance/R&B hit co-written by Kashif that remains one of Whitney’s purest pop pleasures. These joyful, rhythmic moments faded away from Houston’s later work -- and also rarely surfaced on the records of those who followed her -- but their presence on this debut turns this into a fully rounded record, the rare debut that manages to telegraph every aspect of an artist's career in a mere ten songs. [The 2010 25th anniversary edition of Whitney Houston is expanded with five bonus tracks -- remixes of “Thinking About You,” “Someone for Me,” “How Will I Know,” a live version of “Greatest Love of All” from 1990, and a superfluous a cappella mix of “How Will I Know” -- and a bonus DVD containing music videos from the album, new interviews, and -- best of all -- Whitney’s star-making 1983 performance on The Merv Griffin Show.]
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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