With the Oprah special on OWN last night interviewing Cissy Houston, it felt appropriate to finally do a review of this recent collection.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Years Covered: Entire career: 1985 to Postmortem
Length of Album: 79:39 (about as much as you can fit)
Chronological or Mix Disc Format: Chronological
Tracklist: “You Give Good Love”/”Saving All My Love for You” /”How Will I Know”/”Greatest Love of All” /”I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” /”Didn’t We Almost Have It All”/”So Emotional”/”Where Do Broken Hearts Go”/”I’m Your Baby Tonight” (U.S. album version)/”All The Man That I Need” /”I Will Always Love You”/”I’m Every Woman”/”I Have Nothing”/”Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” /”I Believe in You and Me” (Single version)/”My Love Is Your Love” (Radio edit)/”I Look to You” (with R. Kelly)/”Never Give Up”
Number of New Tracks: Technically zero
Number of Unreleased/Hard To Find Tracks: 2
What *isn’t* on this: All of the second place hits. Unless you buy this overseas where a second disc holds all of the secondary singles.
What would I have done differently?: I would not have included the R. Kelly after-death duet version of “I Look To You”. I would have used the original.
Overview: As far as a best-of goes, this is it. All of her biggest hits are here. There are several fan favorites missing, but for a single disc retrospective all of the essentials are here. Several wrongs of the past are corrected here. The worst part about 2000’s Whitney: the Greatest Hits is that it only offered club mix versions of the upbeat tracks. This is great if you like club mixes, but there was no alternative way to hear sparkling remastered versions of the original “How Will I Know” or “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”. Also, the 2007 import disc The Ultimate Collection that surfaced on US shores at the time of Whitney’s death had two unforgivable mistakes. First, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” was presented as a completely different club mix, and “I Will Always Love You”, her biggest hit by far, was an edit and faded prematurely. Both are presented here in their album versions. Also, presenting the collection chronologically does really give you a better perspective of her career ups and downs. With the downs eliminated, it is heavy on the first four albums, including The Bodyguard.
About the rare tracks: I am not a fan of the post-death duet. Especially when the extra singer makes reference to the deceased singer. It weirds me out. Save that for a bonus track. “Never Give Up” was the obvious carrot to dangle to get Whitney die-hards to buy this. Except it’s only okay. And its full of Jermaine Dupri, of whom I’ve never been a fan of his collaborations with others. Mainly because he can’t shut his mouth wherever there’s a moment in the song to breathe. I think if you want to add something that wasn’t a hit, tack on “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” which became known through the original Oprah comeback special and the TV appearances that followed. It would have been a beautiful closing song.
The Verdict: If you have no Whitney in your collection, this is an excellent starting point, and a great single disc collection when you’re just in the mood for the classics. If you love her to pieces though, you probably have the albums, in which case you don’t need this. Although the remastering is great. But don’t buy this simply for the two rare tracks.
Some videos from the collection:
“Never Give Up”
“My Love Is Your Love”
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”