select >> home | news | bio | music | facts | photos | misc

Misc > Reviews
1987 Arista

***** (4 /5)

What the Critics Say

All Music Guide (1996) - "Whitney Houston became an international star with this album. It sold more than ten million copies around the world, yielded a string of number one hit singles across the board like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," and "Love Will Save the Day," and established Houston as the era's top female star. She later went on to more than solidify that status, with other hit albums and a budding film career. While this is a far cry from soul, it's the ultimate in polished, super-produced urban contemporary material." ~ Ron Wynn

Rolling Stone (1987) - "Whitney is like the pop pros of an earlier generation. Her work is cool, authoritative, no-nonsense and delivered with a facility that is almost off-putting. If it's sometimes hard to locate an emotional heart in Houston's songs, the sheer talent is obvious. Still, the narrow channel through which this talent has been directed is frustrating. Turning Whitney Houston into a crossover queen, a yuppie icon, might satisfy the record biz, but it leaves a much richer and more complex promise unfulfilled." -- Vince Aletti

Q Magazine (12/99, p.160) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...kept the pop juggernaut moving with the spirited 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'...over-stuffed with plinkety-plonk '80s synths...

Emap Consumer Magazines Limited (1/97). - Whitney Houston had a lot to live up to from the moment "Saving All My Love For You" and its shiny video went public. Its unabashed upward mobility and soft soul beat cast her as a woman who understood the hard-nosed but still sensitive gogetter of the time. The album that followed was a different matter entirely. The strength of purpose of the single was lost as a quartet of unsympathetic producers shoved her in as many unsuitable directions, and, for the most part, by ignoring Saving's careful construction her voice was left sounding little more than average.

At first glance, "Whitney" (1987) (the album) appears to be working hard to rectify these mistakes. Three of the producers have been replaced by three more and on the sleeve the 'sophisticated' evening gown has given way to a singlet, a big smile and tousled hair, Fun, fun, fun? Hardly. The songs inside make a mockery of such joyful presentation as young Whitney Houston is making a determined bid not simply to grow up, but to be old.

The most disastrous track on the first album was her cover of "The Greatest Love Of All", cumbersome Andrew Lloyd Webber arrangements removed any heart and made the singer look inadequate as she struggled to stay in front of the assembled pomp. For some reason, Whitney Houston believes this is where her future lies, and half this album's tracks would be more at home in a lavish West End musical. "Didn't We Almost Have It All", "Where Are You", "You're Still My Man" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" all hang heavy with melodrama as they build up to climaxes so far out of reach she shouts rather than sings the final lines. This arms aloft, head thrown back approach has become so painfully familiar by the end of the album that its closing with a cover of "I Know Him So Well" comes as no surprise.

Whitney Houston is clearly no Barbra Streisand but the remaining tracks show her to be not much else either. Three uptempo numbers, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", "Love Is A Contact Sport" and "So Emotional", are so late '70s in style that any sparkle dulls instantaneously. They come over like the creaky, cliched disco music that folk who have never danced in their lives think is groovy. Only once does she approach the sensuality of "Saving". "Just The Lonely Talking" is silky without being lush, its rumbling bass, sparing electric strings and what sounds like a pedal steel guitar allow plenty of space, leaving Whitney Houston free of any pressure from behind. Now she can prove she knows how to phrase and swell a ballad, while her urgent, breathy tones gain rather than lose out to the fact she sings from her throat and not her chest.

But this is only one song, and rather than relieving the others it simply frustrates. Whitney Houston needs to loosen up a bit, to act her age. At the moment she sounds like a lonely little kid who has spent too much time with grown ups, and has picked up a lot of their habits before she has fully understood their ways. This is probably the case. As the daughter of Cissy Houston and cousin of Dionne Warwick, family sing-songs on Boxing Day must've been enough to turn any young girl's head. --Lloyd Bradley -- Emap Consumer Magazines Limited.


Release Date: 6/29/1987