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Whitney Houston - The Greatest Hits

review by Ren C.

 

Not Rated

Studio: Arista

Running Time: 70 minutes

Starring: Whitney Houston

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: Extra Performances, Interviews

Specs: Full Screen (Standard)-1.33:1, English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

Over the course of the last fifteen years, Whitney Houston has established herself as one of pop music's most versatile and enduring artists. Now, for the first time, she brings us a nearly complete collection of her music videos. These videos date back to 1985, and are incredibly varied, showing not only Houston's evolution, but also the evolution of music and culture in general. The collection starts with "You Give Good Love", which was Houston's very first solo video, so it's only fair to cut her a little bit of slack for it. It's not an actively bad video, it's just not as good as some of her other works would become. Next is "Saving All My Love For You", Houston's first number one hit, another slow song that has proved to be one of her most enduring. This video has more of a storyline, and shows that Houston is already evolving into a diva. This theme would be continued with the next video, "How Will I Know." I feel the need to mention that this is only the third video, and we've already gone through three hairstyles, but I digress. This video screams '80s and is great solely for its nostalgia value. The fourth video is one of Houston's most-known and most-loved songs, "Greatest Love Of All." The video doesn't exactly have a plotline, consisting mainly of Houston wandering around an empty auditorium, and singing the song.

Next we move to the videos from Houston's second album, entitled merely "Whitney." The first of these is "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)." This is another of those great '80s videos, with Houston's hairstyle threatening to dominate the screen. Next is "Didn't We Almost Have It All." This video features a live performance of the song by Houston, which is arguably more affecting than any video could have been. "So Emotional" is another great video, as the song has more of a rock tinge to it and another great performance by Houston. The final video from "Whitney" is "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" which is a great ballad, with a fairly standard ballad video.

The next album that Houston released was "I'm Your Baby Tonight", and the video for the title track is the next included. This was the first '90s video released by Houston, and is showing her definite evolution as an artist. Next is "All The Man That I Need" and while I'm not really thrilled with the way that most of Houston's ballad videos tend to look the same, it's a small nitpick.

Included next is the very memorable performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from Super Bowl XXV that is still considered one of the best in Super Bowl history. A great inclusion, as Houston could sing the phone book and make it sound affecting, so she does absolute wonders here. From there we move to "The Bodyguard" which was Houston's first film, and a huge soundtrack. "I Will Always Love You" is the first video included from this endeavor, and I think that every human being on the planet has heard this song at least once, as it was the most over-played song, quite possibly, of the 90s. It's a standard soundtrack video, with performance clips interspersed with movie clips. The same can be said about the next video "I'm Every Woman". This is a slightly more upbeat song, however, and is has far less clips than the preceding video. "I Have Nothing" is another sweeping ballad that is much like "I Will Always Love You" in that it is performance/clips. "Run To You" is yet another ballad released from "Bodyguard" with more clips from the movie. I think that over the course of these videos, I've basically seen the entire movie. But wait, there's one more. "Queen of the Night" is taken almost wholly from the movie, with only minor tweaks made here and there.

Next up, we move to "The Preacher's Wife", with the song "Step By Step." There is really nothing to connect this to the movie in any way, as it is essentially Houston standing a platform singing. We then move to Houston's most recent studio effort, the album "My Love Is Your Love" which represents Houston's attempt to be more '90s by having lots of cameos, and turning herself almost into "Gangsta Whitney". The first video is "Heartbreak Hotel" with Kelly Price and Faith Evans dropping by to sing about how Houston was spurned and then throw a fur coat into the ocean. "My Love Is Your Love" is included next, and is a great song with Houston wandering the streets of New York, and singing the song. "It's Not Right But It's Okay" has Houston standing in a dark soundstage type room singing about how she was done wrong. The last video is "I Learned From The Best" which puts Houston in a Diana Ross hairdo and has her back on stage singing about how she was done wrong.

There has been a lot of talk about that the fact that this DVD doesn't include all of Houston's videos. I can argue that it really doesn't need to, as the videos that it doesn't include either aren't Houston's greatest (My Name is Not Susan) or probably couldn't be included due to licensing agreements (Exhale (Shoop Shoop)). As it stands, between the videos in the main feature, and the extras included, there is more than enough Whitney to sustain the loyal fans.

These videos look a lot better than they could be expected to look, as some of them are approaching two decades old. There is a very strange effect going on with "Heartbreak Hotel", with the sides letterboxed as opposed to the top, but aside from that, all the videos look really good. "The Star-Spangled Banner" shows a little wear, as it could be expected to with age and the fact that it was more than likely taken from the original broadcast.

All the videos here are at above CD quality, sounding as if they were being performed for the first time. There really isn't anything here to give the sound system a great workout, but I enjoy the fact that they are all mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. If only all music video collections were released this way, I would be happy.

This is another place where the disc really shines. There are a number of great extras included. The lyrics to each of the songs in the main program are included as a subtitle track, which is a feature that I always enjoy on collections such as this. There are a few times in "Didn't We Almost Have It All" where the lyrics disappear for a few seconds, but that is the only fault with them. A web link to Arista's Whitney Houston site is included for the benefit of those with DVD-ROM drives. There is an interview with Whitney Houston included where she covers where she's been, and speaks about her history and the videos on the DVD. There is a similar interview with Clive Davis, founder of Houston's record label, Arista Records, speaking about how he came to know Houston, and her evolution. Houston's video runs around ten minutes, Davis' around three and a half.

Next is a fairly extensive series of special performances. First, and of incredible historical value, is Houston's first television performance on "The Merv Griffin Show" of "Home." Even in this performance, it was obvious that Houston was going to be a star. Next is Houston's performance of "Lover For Life" at "A Concert For A New South Africa" in 1989. As fantastic as the videos are, these live performances give the disc a whole new dimension. A 1989 Grammy Awards performance of "One Moment In Time" is included, and is arguably the most impressive performance on the disc. Houston absolutely shines here. The only drawback here, as with some of the other TV footage is that it is fairly grainy, and of TV quality. That still doesn't detract from the performance, however. Next is about an eight-minute featurette on the making of the album "My Love Is Your Love". So convincing is this featurette that I wanted to buy the album after seeing it, despite the fact that I already own the album. It talks about what it took to bring the album together, and the myriad of collaborators that Houston worked with. A performance of "Why Does It Hurt So Bad", from the "Waiting To Exhale" soundtrack is included from the 1996 MTV Movie Awards. Nice to see the song included, even if it wasn't the greatest performance of Houston's career. A live concert performance from Germany of "My Love Is Your Love" is next, and I have absolutely no problem with sitting through this song again, as it is one of Houston's recent gems. A fairly brief clip is included from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" is included, with Houston as the Fairy Godmother singing "Impossible" to (ugh) Brandy as Cinderella. Nice to have it included, though. The last of these special performances is not really a performance, but an MTV News clip with about ten seconds of Houston singing "It's Not Right But It's Okay". Again, very nice to have it here.

The final special feature here is a behind-the-scenes at the photo shoot for Houston's "Greatest Hits" disc. This is basically some raw footage of Houston doing the shoot that led to the cover for this disc, and "Greatest Hits". Also, not a special feature as such, but a very nice inclusion was the fact that inside my copy of this disc, I received a CD single for the song "I Learned From The Best" which was a very pleasant surprise.

 

F Like I stated, Whitney Houston is one of the most successful female artists in history, and her influence is only now beginning to be felt. This is a fantastic collection of her best work, and loyal fans should have no hesitations in picking it up. Not a fan? Check it out; you may very well be converted by the time it's over. High recommendation.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(3.5/5)

(4/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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