Review: Whitney Houston's 'I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard' showcases the best of her prime

Source: WhitneyHouston/LegacyRecordings/EntertainmentTonight
Can we just say that it was a bittersweet experience to lay our hands on a new Whitney Houston CD, now that she isn't here anymore?

The late songbird's estate, released 'I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard' on November 17, to celebrate 25 years of the iconic soundtrack to the movie that marked her debut as a motion picture actress back in 1992.

Yes, it has really been that long since we first heard that unforgettable 'And I' note!

Several cuts from this beautifully remastered LP, give a surprising new definition to her signature ballads, that most youngsters of the present generation have been made familiar with, due to countless aspirants performing them on talent shows, more often than not.

For instance, the film version of 'Run To You', not only sees her alter some of the lyrics, but also inter-change the second verse with the first one, making it sound like almost - 'a new song.'

'Wish You Love' is indeed an unusual compilation, as compared to other artists' anniversary edition releases in the past - since it does not feature any of the original takes from the album it is celebrating, but alternate studio versions, a cappella's and live performances of the same.

You'd think, featuring 3 different version of the same song, would possibly make the album sound repetitive - but when you hear her interpreting 'I Will Always Love You' in more ways than we have come to recognize the song, it is almost as thrilling as listening to it for the first time.

The first track from the CD, is termed an "alternate mix" of the Dolly Parton-penned classic, which starts off with a prologue/intro - in which Houston reminisces over and looks back at a long-lost-love, adding a greater sense of melancholy and perhaps bringing more depth to the succeeding verses. The orchestration on this is slightly different from the original single, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts back in 1992 and won Houston her first 'Record Of The Year' Grammy two years later.

There are five movie-versions of her songs, placed at various points across the track list, which are basically the alternate renditions you may remember hearing in the background of several scenes from the movie. These have never been released officially before, and add a different flavor to her famous recordings - be it through slight changes in the musical production or the vocal arrangements.

What takes the cake in this brilliant reminder of Houston's timeless talent, is the set of 'rare' live performances - which showcase her ability to bring out deeper meaning from each of the songs, than her own studio recordings of the same. For instance, the live performance of 'Run To You' - which never yet made it to the public domain (not even in bootlegs), features Houston sing with such passion and conviction, that you can picture her in every situation the lyrics speak of. The way she emphasizes on specific phrases, holding and stretching certain words in her godly low register, especially during the second verse of the song - serves as an indelible goosebumps-inducing experience.

One of the most memorable highlights of the album is a sublime display of Houston's exquisite vocals on an a cappella version of her only Gospel recording from the original soundtrack - 'Jesus Loves Me.' The extracted vocal track makes it seem, as if the singer, is in fact, sitting in your room, singing only a few inches away from your ears.

"Did you have a good time?," Houston's interaction with her audience, added poetically as the album approaches its end on the 13th track - before it concludes with an energetic live rendition of 'I'm Every Woman' - makes it feel like a traditional encore ending to one of her sold-out shows from 1994. By this time, you've had an intimate experience with Houston's monumental talent in its prime, displaying the-many aspects of her artistry.

Houston's untimely passing in 2012, is still a void that's nearly impossible to fill - but with the celebration of one her most popular works in the mainstream, the album serves as a great reminder, of the purity and effortlessness of a talent that turned her into the biggest female superstar of her time.

'I Wish You Love' is perhaps the best posthumous release to come out of Houston's camp, since that very day, music stopped for many of us.

Rating: ★★★★

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