by J. Derek Reardon
Whitney Houston is one of the key reasons I fell in love with music. I have loved her music ever since “The Greatest Love of All.” And despite her recent personal turmoil (and several cancelled concerts over the years in my home town), I still hold Whitney Houston in the highest regard. This Greatest Hits compilation is great, whether you are a long-time or a new fan, whether you have all her CDs or own none, whether you love Whitney herself or whether you simply love that beautiful, soulful, and inspirational message that music can generate. Greatest Hits is a fantastic piece of music history that is a pleasure to own and enjoy.
This is a 2 CD set, which is easy to fathom given Whintey’s success over the past almost 20 years. The first CD is entitled “Cool Down,” which is appropriate given it features Whitney’s slower power ballads, putting you in a calm, mellow, inspired place. While most of the songs are known to us all, of special note are the duets. “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful,” a duet with Jermaine Jackson, is a rare, beautiful, and wondrous gem. “Same Script, Different Cast” is a beautiful and haunting ballad featuring Deborah Cox. And Diane Warren produces another anthemic ballad masterpiece with “Could I Have This Kiss Forever” featuring Enrique Iglesias. While there are bound to be some omissions, most notably missing on this CD is “When You Believe,” Whitney’s duet with Mariah Carey that garnered and Oscar nomination.
The second CD, entitled “Throw Down,” is meant to put you uncontrollably onto the dance floor. This CD is especially unique for offering rare items that the average listener would not typically hear. “Fine” and “If I Told You That” are two new songs that are potential dance floor smashes. If you’ve listened to top 40 radio at all in the past year, you will be very familiar with the Thunderpuss Mix of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” and the Jonathan Peters Mix of “My Love is Your Love.” Most of the rest of the mixes I could do without – I tend to prefer the originals. However, oddly, the remix of “Greatest Love of All” is an exception. This mix is executed beautifully, maintaining the power and beauty of the original, but it enables you to interpret the way you are emotionally moved into physical movement. While not dance tunes, the last two songs still “Throw Down” in that they are hugely inspirational and make a most fantastic conclusion to this set. “One Moment in Time” is Whitney’s anthemic contribution to the 1988 Summer Olympics and is an uplifting, inspirational piece. And if you missed Whitney’s 1991 performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, here is your chance to hear and relive this masterpiece (for me, this song by itself is worth the price of the CD).
This CD is worth buying on a number of different levels. If you are a fan of Whintey’s ballads but never purchased her CDs, this is a great way to obtain those ballads in one simple place. If you love to dance and love having unique mixes over the originals, the second CD in this set is surely for you. And for those of you, like me, who have Whintey’s CDs but still went, “Oh my god! If You Say My Eyes are Beautiful! One Moment in Time! The Star Spangled Banner! ” and about had a heart attack, yes, it is most definitely worth purchasing. Chances are there will be songs you don’t like, and fans will be asking “Why didn’t she include [such and such song]?” Despite these minor criticisms, this is undeniably an excellent compilation of Whitney’s work to date, as well as a great tribute to the fans who were clamoring for rare and unique gems. A 5 star release through and through.
Thank you, Whitney, for sharing your wondrous talent with us. And thank you for sharing these beautiful, special, and unique gems of musical history. You are the greatest.