"Think It Over" circa 1978 was my first introduction to Cissy Houston, and what an introduction it was!! I later heard her work with the Sweet Inspirations and loved it, but not nearly as much as I love this CD of Cissy's solo years. "Presenting Cissy Houston" with original 9 tracks (and now12 bonus tracks released under Janus label) was released in the UK by the independent Major Minor label consisted entirely of cover tunes. The liner notes are informative and interesting and the type makes it legible (no magnifying glass needed).
In my opinion every song here is great and it is all because of Cissy's voice. If you listen carefully you can hear Whitney Houston's vocal intonations, so it is easy to see where Whitney got her vocal chops from. Because of space I am unable to give an in depth profile of every song, but I will mention the songs that stand out for me. The CD opens strong with an impressive, upbeat and lively version of "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," followed by the heartfelt, and melodic vocals on "Didn't We." Cissy soulfully belts out "I'll Be There" a 1962 hit for Bobby Darrin, with such ease no wonder it charted #45 US R&B. Melanie's "Any Guy" is definitely one of my favorites; strong vocals and unique syncopation. No matter how many times you may have heard "Be My baby", Cissy takes it to another place, charting #31 on the US R&B. Cissy takes you on a journey with "Long And Winding Road", and made me feel like this is the first time I ever heard it. "He-I Believe" is a gospel medley that builds throughout, yet Cissy demonstrates such control you don't see it coming until the very end, something only a top notch gospel singer could do.
BONUS TRACKS: "Darling Take me Back" clearly highlights Cissy's strong vocals in the throes and woes of love. If you listen carefully to "Hang On To A Dream" you can hear from where Whitney got her vocal styling and power. "Love You" is a soul infused pop song that someone could easily pick for their wedding. "It's Not Easy" stands out for me because of Cissy's strong command of her vocal range. "Midnight Train To Georgia" charted #45 on US R&B but should have been a major hit for her, unfortunately or fortunately depending upon where you stand, Gladys Knight ran to the bank with it years later. Cissy delivers passion and power on carol King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow." Cissy tells a story from the heart on "Only Time You Say You Love Me" which is why it is another major favorite of mine. The CD closes with "Down In The Boondocks", and although I love the way The Three degrees sing it, Cissy as usually brings her own style, phrasing and vocal power to an okay song and makes it grand.
If you want to hear Cissy Houston sing during her prime, then this would be the CD for you. Every song is a treat. I just hope you like it as much as I did!!