Didn’t We Almost Have It All – Whitney Houston 1963-2012

0 Posted by - Feb 12, 2012 - News and MP3s

Despite my youthful love of Vandross & O’Neal, it was the kaleidoscopic burst of colour and energy of the “How Will I Know” video, rather than the balladry of “Saving All My Love For You” that first turned my 15 year old ear to Whitney.

It was originally written for Janet Jackson’s “Control” album but when Janet’s team passed on the song Arista records supremo Clive Davis snapped it up as the perfect pop foil for the ballads he had lined up for the debut of the artists he’d snapped up two years previously.

Co writer Rubicam Shannon recalls “It wasn’t right for that (Control), but then our publishing company played it for Gerry Griffith when he was in Los Angeles gathering material for the unknown Whitney Houston. He loved it, sent it to Clive (Davis), and Clive said, ‘We must have it.’ And we said, ‘”

From the vantage point over 25 years later, having watched her voice and health deteriorate though self-abuse it’s difficult to remember the sheer vibrancy and vocal power of Whitney, especially during the quick turnaround of her Whitney Houston and Whitney albums.

Just listen to that voice on this clean vocal track of “How Will I Know“… stunning.

Listen to Hint’s tribute remix of “How Will I know?”

The second album “Whitney” was bigger still, despite the monster “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” originally being derided as “How Will I Know part II“.
She made what I think was her TOTP debut performing the song and there’s a facinating look at the making of the album on the “Soul Culture” website.

“On ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ I brought in the handclaps and things that really make the song swing for everyone,” says producer Narada Michael Walden. “I brought out the 808 bass drums, which were brand new at that time to bring in some more flavor for the record. I had to think about how to make the sound unique and how it was going to work with a hit chorus. I also had to think about how it was going to hit on the dance floors in New York, Detroit and Europe. Good things usually happen when you get a good spirit of happiness and a dose of funk in the music.

It was a pop demo so I had to try to make it more ghetto. Ghetto meaning more Black, more rough and more ready for the club. I brought in Randy Jackson to play the mote bass on the record and the guitar part is being really funked out by Corrado Rustici. I recall when we got to the ending where she was singing, ‘Say you want to dance, don’t you want to dance, say you want to dance,’ I thought it was great for a B chorus idea and it turned into a chant. The chant took the song up another notch and it became a number one smash hit across the entire world.”

In 2001 “Wanna Dance” was introduced afresh to a new generation when Richard X brilliantly grafted it onto the top of Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” for his Girls On Top Mashup project.