Another massive hit machine made her debut late in 1985, and although it took awhile to build some real momentum, by the end of 1986, the self-titled debut album “Whitney Houston” was not only the #1 selling album of 1986, it achieved such lofty status it is voted as #249 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of her music, but I absolutely respect and appreciate her vocal talent and her massive influence on the pop and R&B scene for the rest of her life, even as it ended far too soon.
Of the ten songs on this album, eight of them were ultimately released as singles, which is perhaps the highest ratio of singles from an album I have ever seen. I didn’t realize this at the time, but out of those eight singles, it was actually the last three released that became mega-hits for Houston. “Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know”, which is probably the catchiest and most preferred track for me, and “Greatest Love of All” all reached number one status, but it is fascinating those were the last three tracks the record company deemed worthy of a solo release. On the two hit ballads, as well as the rest of the album, you can hear the pure tone, remarkable range and vocal power of her voice. Coming from a musical family, including her cousin Dionne Warwick, it isn’t surprising that she is so gifted, but just like Michael from the Jackson family, one has to stand out above the rest, and Whitney was definitely that unique star-power.
There is another more tangible link to the Jacksons, as brother Jermaine produced three of the songs on the album. There are some interesting collaborations on the album, as Jermaine joins in on two tracks, and a third also features R&B legend Teddy Pendergrass. Admittedly, those songs are among my least favorite tracks on the album, as neither one truly matches up with Houston (especially Jermain), and I’m glad the powerhouse singles of this album were saved for Whitney alone.
As I noted, this was never a big favorite of mine, but I enjoyed hearing back from her at the beginning of her phenomenal career, and I certainly recall that back in 1986, her music was everywhere, and if you knew someone into pop music, they were probably singing along to “How Will I Know”.