The Bodyguard is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and it’s incredible to think of the movie soundtrack’s lasting impact. Of course one of the film’s leading stars, Whitney Houston, tragically died in 2012 drowning in the bath after taking drugs. While it’s still hard to process the troubled star’s death, her work on The Bodyguard soundtrack remains her most famous body of songs. To mark the 25th anniversary I Wish You Love: More From The Bodyguard has been released.
This collection features 8 versions of songs from The Bodyguard that have never been commercially released before alongside 6 live versions of the songs, mostly from The Bodyguard Tour. The first half of the album brings the memories flooding back. Although these are classed as alternate versions, the majority of listeners wouldn’t hear all that much difference from the soundtrack versions.
I Wish You Love opens with I Will Always Love You, a song that will forever remain one of Houston’s defining moments. The way she transformed Dolly Parton’s classic was phenomenal and it’s a true showcase of how an artist can put their own stamp on a classic that both honours and updates it. One of the most stirring moments is the A Cappella Version of Jesus Loves Me, which allows you to hear Houston’s voice at its most powerful. She uses every part of her incredible range and it’s actually a little emotional to hear the song so raw.
Unfortunately once the soundtrack moves into the live renditions, it starts to fall apart. I recall Houston’s struggles starting much later than 1996 but her voice sounds pretty awful here. I Have Nothing, recorded live from Brunei, sees the singer performing in a totally different key than the original recording. She struggles to hit the notes, frequently changes both pitch and melody, and sings in an annoying preach-sing style that dominated her live performances later in her career. Of course we know now this was all a distraction technique from the wider issues she was struggling with.
This is true across all of the live tracks unfortunately. It’s not pleasurable to hear the once unstoppable vocal powerhouse, struggling to hit the notes. Run to You live from The Bodyguard sees Houston cutting many of the big notes short, exchanging them instead for wobbly riffs that detract from the beauty of the original song. Probably the best of a bad bunch is the live version of Queen of Night, which is largely saved by Houston not having to use her full range and backing singers propping her vocals up.
Having been a fan of Whitney Houston for my entire life, I’m saddened that the decision was made to release this album. It doesn’t recall the singer’s glory days, instead reminding you of her steady decline, which eventually led to her untimely death. Personally I would say to leave this album well alone and just revisit your copy of the original soundtrack. This could have been a celebration of everything Houston brought musically but instead it’s just a poor cash in that reminds you of her personal struggles and professional decline.
Track list: 1. I Will Always Love You (Alternate Mix) 2. I Have Nothing (Film Version) 3. I’m Every Woman (Clivilles & Cole House Mix I Edit) 4. Run to You (Film Version) 5. Queen of the Night (Film Version) 6. Jesus Loves Me (Film Version) 7. Jesus Loves Me (A Cappella Version) 8. I Will Always Love You (Film Version) 9. I Have Nothing (Live from Brunei) 10. Run to You (Live from The Bodyguard Tour) 11. Jesus Loves Me / He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (Live from The Bodyguard Tour) 12. Queen of the Night (Live from The Bodyguard Tour) 13. I Will Always Love You (Live from The Bodyguard Tour) 14. I’m Every Woman (Live from The Bodyguard Tour) Record label: Sony Music Release date: 17th November 2017