The Essential Toni Braxton

by: Toni Braxton

The Essential Toni Braxton amounts to an expanded update of 2003's Ultimate Toni Braxton, nearly doubling the content and digging deeper into the discography of one of the biggest R&B artists of the '90s. With the exception of favoring the R. Kelly remix of "How Many Ways" over the original, this set retains Ultimate's core 15 tracks while wisely choosing to use the studio version of "Seven Whole Days" instead of a live take. Almost every song that touched a U.S. chart is included, such as the Top Ten R&B hits "Love Shoulda Brought You Home," "Another Sad Love Song," "You're Makin' Me High," "Un-Break My Heart," "Breathe Again," and "He Wasn't Man Enough." And while she has often been pigeonholed as an adult contemporary staple, the second disc adds the remixes of "He Wasn't Man Enough" and "Un-Break My Heart" (from Junior Vasquez and Frankie Knuckles, respectively) that solidified her club presence. (Un-Break My Heart: The Remix Collection compiles and mixes these and eight other club mixes.) Another pleasant surprise, tucked at the very end, is the inclusion of "Good Life," a 1990 single released by Toni and her four sisters as the Braxtons. If you want only the big hits, Ultimate will still do fine, but this set offers a more rounded and representative look back. ~ Andy Kellman

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