The Platinum Collection [La Face]

L.A. Reid and Babyface's LaFace record label has been a consistent hitmaker in urban R&B since the late '80s, so it's no surprise that the label's Platinum Collection retrospective is packed with stellar music. But even though it would be next to impossible to adequately cover the label's bevy of high-quality singles, the track selection here still feels frustratingly haphazard. Even though it concentrates mostly on the mid- to late '90s, The Platinum Collection reaches back into the past -- most prominently with Boyz II Men's "End of the Road" and Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonight" -- far enough to make one wonder why there wasn't more material from that period included. Some artists are also very heavily represented -- Toni Braxton has a whopping four tracks, and TLC three, and while they're all strong songs, it might have been nice on a single-disc compilation to have a bit more variety. Then again, it might have been nice to have more than one disc, which would have effectively avoided those difficulties and given more of a sense of just how terrific the label has been over the years. What's here is undeniably good -- it's just hard not to wish there was more of it. ~ Steve Huey

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