Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston (1985)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 46:53 minutes | 442 MB | Genre: R&B
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Front Cover | © Arista Records

After seeing Houston perform in a New York City nightclub, Clive Davis believed the singer had the potential to crossover and be the next big superstar. He signed her in 1983 and the two began work on her debut album. Initially Davis had a hard time finding songs for her. Even after elaborate showcases in New York and Los Angeles, many producers turned down the chance to work with her. During the time, rock bands and dance oriented acts were popular; many songwriters felt Houston’s gospel voice didn’t fit in the pop landscape. It took a year and a half for Jerry Griffith, then Arista’s A&R chief and the one who had recommended Whitney to Davis, and Davis to amass suitable songs for the album. Finally the songwriter-producer Kashif offered to produce “You Give Good Love”. Jermaine Jackson, who had emerged from the shadow of his younger brother Michael, produced three songs. Narada Michael Walden came in to revise and then produce “How Will I Know”. And Michael Masser covered the pop side of the tracks, producing four of his own compositions, including “Saving All My Love for You” and “Greatest Love of All”, which had originally been recorded in 1977 by George Benson as “The Greatest Love of All” and was the main theme of the boxer Muhammad Ali biopic “The Greatest” in the same year. After two years of recording, the album was ready for release. Budgeted at $200,000, it finally cost almost $400,000.

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 “AllMusic”

1 You Give Good Love 00:04:36
2 Thinking About You 00:05:24
3 Someone For Me 00:04:59
4 Saving All My Love for You 00:03:57
5 Nobody Loves Me Like You Do 00:03:46
6 How Will I Know 00:04:29
7 All At Once 00:04:28
8 Take Good Care of My Heart 00:04:15
9 Greatest Love of All 00:04:57
10 Hold Me 00:06:02

Whitney Houston – lead vocal
Jermaine Jackson, Teddy Pendergrass – duet vocals
John Barnes – clarinet, keyboards
Robbie Buchanan, Randy Kerber, Yvonne Lewis, Richard Marx – keyboards
Nathan East, Freddie Washington, Randy Jackson – bass
Preston Glass, Greg Phillinganes – synthesizer
Ed Greene, John “J.R.” Robinson, J.T. Lewis, Steve Rucker – drums
Cissy Houston, Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Oren Waters, Yogi Lee, Mary Canty, Deborah Thomas – background vocals
Paul Jackson, Jr., Dann Huff, Tim May, Ira Siegel, David Williams – guitar
Jermaine Jackson – producer, background vocals



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