During Sunday’s Super Bowl coverage, there was some talk about Whitney Houston’s memorable rendition of the national anthem at the game twenty-five years ago. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. Whitney’s rendition was so good, it became a top-ten hit later in 1991.
Years later, when I first started looking around on the internet, I happened to find Jazz FM out of London. I started listening to the station at night, when it would be overnights for them, playing smooth jazz and classic soul tracks. It was then that I heard the song that I’m featuring for Flashback Friday.
When I first heard it, I wasn’t even sure that it was Whitney Houston. I mean, it sounded so much like her, but I had every release (or so I thought) that Whitney had on the market and I had never heard this song. Once it ended, the DJ announced that it was indeed Whitney Houston, and the song was called “Dancin’ On The Smooth Edge.” Once I was armed with that information, I searched high and low for the song. Finally I found a used CD single at SecondSpin.com and found out that it was a B-side to her first release from the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack “Exhale (Shoop Shoop).”
The song sounds a little older than “Exhale”; to me it sounds like something that was produced somewhere around the time her second album Whitney was released. I have no real idea when it was actually created, but that is around the time period it sounds like to me. Narada Michael Walden produced the song, and I know he was working with Whitney around that time, even into her third album I’ll Your Baby Tonight. But it is a beautiful song—so beautiful to these ears, it’s hard to believe it was relegated to a B-side. Maybe the producers felt they had enough ballads on her albums already and this one just lost out.
And of course, the song features that one-of-a-kind voice. The voice that so sweetly sang when she arrived on the scene, launched so many hits, and gave Dolly Parton a gold mine when she set her pipes to “I’ll Always Love You.” I’ll always love the Whitney of that period, before her voice deteriorated. She was still Whitney then, but she just didn’t sound as good.
Here’s “Dancin’ On The Smooth Edge.” Enjoy your Friday!
P.S. Yesterday marked four years since Whitney Houston’s death. Her voice is still missed. But at least we have songs like this one to remember how good she was.