WHITNEY HOUSTON AND OTHERS “The Bodyguard” original...


WHITNEY HOUSTON AND OTHERS “The Bodyguard” original soundtrack Arista * *

Is Whitney Houston the new Streisand? The verdict isn’t in on her acting debut yet (and we still don’t know whether she wants to direct), but with her penchant for flawless vocal flourishes and big, sustained finishes, Houston knows how to sell a song like nobody since, well, the last major screen-and-song double-threat.

Not that she always knows how to inhabit a song. The big number on the “Bodyguard” soundtrack is “I Will Always Love You,” a Dolly Parton-penned classic bound to get its chart due with this interpretation. Houston has the goods to deliver on the tune’s haunting beauty and resists overpowering it--until the finale, when the key change and stratospheric notes drain all the heart-rending sadness out of the song and make it sound like just another anthem of survival. Still, you can mark it sold .

Houston’s half of the album marks a return to pop after her last album’s pronounced R&B; predictably, the ballads serve her best, along with a frisky neo-disco Chaka Khan remake. The only obvious dud is “Queen of the Night,” a silly stab at hard-rock that’s almost a dead ringer for En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind,” particularly where her vocals are multitracked.

The mix of various popsters on Side 2 is unremarkable, highlighted by an average Lisa Stansfield track and rounded out by snoozers from the likes of Kenny G, Curtis Stigers, Clivilles & Cole and Joe Cocker.