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Whitney Houston
(debut album)
1985 Arista

***** (4.5 /5)

ALBUM REVIEWS (09/00) - It's hard to believe it has been over fifteen years since Whitney Houston exploded onto the pop music scene with the quartet of singles that ignited her to pop-superstardom: "You Give Good Love," "Saving All My Love For You," "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All." From singing backup behind Chaka Khan to selling over 11 million copies of her self-titled debut, Houston's vocal gymnastics melted our hearts, soothed our souls and with "How Will I Know," got our groove on. Most artists hope to sing four songs that good in a career, not to mention on one album. Her first, and her finest!

All Music Guide (1/96) - "The legend of Whitney Houston began with this self-titled album. It marked her shift away from the experimental songs she did with the group Material and a move into heavily produced, very slick urban contemporary and adult pop. Although Houston had learned her craft working in New York nightclubs and singing in a Baptist church in Newark, she was steered into radio-friendly ballads that emphasized style over substance. The album did yield an unprecedented string of number one hits, but "Saving All My Love for You" and "How Will I Know" created an impression of an incredibly talented vocalist using only a minimum of her skills. It also contained one of her few legitimate soul workouts in "The Greatest Love of All." ~ Ron Wynn

Rolling Stone (9/85) - "Blessed with the most exciting new voice in years, Whitney Houston sings the hell out of the pleasant but undistinguished pop-soul tunes on her album, which were put together by a consortium of top producers: Michael Masser, Jermaine Jackson, Kashif, Narada Michael Walden. But . . . many of the songs here are so featureless they could be sung by anyone. They make what could have been a stunning debut merely promising." -- Don Shewey

Q Magazine (12/99, p.160) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...remains one of her best, featuring 'How Will I Know' and the genuinely moving tour-de-force, 'Greatest Love Of All'...

sonicnet (12/00) - Although she has now been eclipsed by younger urban R&B female stars, Houston will stand as the first to bring this type of clean soul music to the world. In the USA alone, this record stayed in the charts for four years, sold fifteen million copies and spent fourteen weeks on top of the charts. It would be churlish to offer any criticism when most of the world would disagree. The immaculate production is by Jermaine Jackson, bank manager is Clive Davis and even the bathing suit on the back cover gets a credit. It is however, with all its slickness, an indispensable soul album.

wilson and alroy record reviews .org (09/00) - "Clive Davis, then-chief of Arista, doesn't play around. Once he decided to make Houston his latest superstar discovery, he fixed her up with top pop producers like Michael Masser, Narada Michael Walden, and Kashif, all of whom contributed hit singles to this debut. (Jermaine Jackson also produced three flaccid tracks, duetting on two of them, but let's just ignore those, shall we?) Kashif produced his protegé LaLa's ballad "You Give Good Love." Walden contributed the only real uptempo cut on the disc, the catchy if obvious "How Will I Know?" But the big winner was Masser, who cowrote two huge hit ballads, "Greatest Love Of All" and "Saving All My Love For You" (with a Tom Scott sax solo), plus the pleasant "All At Once" and the Teddy Pendergrass duet "Hold Me." The ballads are well constructed and not overly sentimental, and Houston sings them well, with emotive power coupled with a subtlety that's unusual in such a young performer. So it's not consistent enough to be great pop, but the hits still stand up after fifteen years of radio saturation, which is no mean feat. The large cast of session musicians includes everybody from Nathan East and Ready Freddie Washington to Ira Siegal and Ernie Watts. - DBW (1/98) - When Whitney Houston arrived on the scene as a fresh-faced ingenue in 1985, few could have predicted the level of superstardom she'd achieve or how fast she'd do it. Certainly the voice was there--supple, soulful, and when called upon, explosive. But the material on her debut album--and those that followed it, for that matter--was bland pop pap that mostly wasted her gift. Still there were numerous hits on Whitney Houston, including a trio of ballads: "You Give Good Love," "Saving All My Love for You," and the extraordinarily vapid "Greatest Love of All." The up-tempo "How Will I Know" was a mere trifle, perhaps, but it's one of her most winning performances. And that video. That dress. 'Nuff said. --Daniel Durchholz


Release Date: 7/7/1985