Sunday, April 03, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s - Whitney Houston (1985)

It's been said that the '80s were the heyday of the blockbuster pop album. This was one of the biggest ones--the decade's best-selling album by a female artist and second best-selling debut album (behind Guns 'N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction). Whitney Houston wrote the book for crossover adult-leaning R&B/pop, a sound that would dominate pop music through the second half of the '80s and most of the '90s, paving the way for other similarly vocally gifted female artists like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Toni Braxton.

Musically, Whitney Houston adeptly dispatches both its ballads and uptempo tracks. Houston became known for her torchy love songs, and these were among her first and best. "You Give Good Love" set the stage, while "Saving All My Love for You" became her first #1 hit, on which she takes the unusual role of the anti-heroine persona "the other woman." "The Greatest Love of All" was the album's biggest hit ballad, but the lesser-known "All at Once" and "Hold Me," a song that first appeared on duet partner Teddy Pendergrass's 1984 album Love Language and was released as a single, are also good too.

The uptempo numbers on the album don't shine as bright as the ballads with one notable exception, "How Will I Know," a real knockout of a dance pop single. "Thinking About You" and "Someone for Me," while fun, don't hold a candle to its carefree pop perfection (Houston would do generally better uptempo material on her 1987 follow-up, Whitney). Although Jermaine Jackson was surely included for some name recognition, hits two collaborations are the album's weakest material, but "Take Good Care of My Heart" does add some needed energy among the album's many slow songs.

The album Whitney was my first exposure to Houston and, while for nostalgic reasons it will always hold a special place in my heart, I've come to appreciate Whitney Houston more and more as the years go by, and would probably recognize it as the superior of the two sets.

Best: How Will I Know, Saving All My Love for You, You Give Good Love, The Greatest Love of All, All at Once

4 comments:

Paul said...

the start of a long love affair with whitney for me :) Lasted right up until early 2000s. Still a fan but not quite as ardent as I used to be. 1985 was when i started my charts in my diary (so old) and Whit had 4 number ones with saving all my love, how will i know, greatest love of all and all at once (the latter of which was one of first songs i learnt without sheet music on piano!).

ww_adh said...

Did you save your early chart records? I bet they would be a lot of fun to look through.

Paul said...

yeah i have an embarrassing folder full of them. my friends mock me :P Whitney had an uninterrupted run of 14 number one singles from the four I mentioned above, the five singles from Whitney, One Moment In Time, the 1989 Aretha duet and the first three USA singles from I'm your Baby!! I was besotted with her!!

Cheryl Pickren said...

In 1987 I traveled a 5 1/2 day road trip from SC all the way to
Lake Tahoe, Nevada on a bus to go marry the Love of life and listened to her one orange tape over and over all the way there. It will be a part of me forever.............