February 20, 2007
La Face/Legacy

Album Review

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, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Love Shoulda Brought You Home
  2. I Love Me Some Him
  3. Tell Me
  4. You're Makin' Me High
  5. He Wasn't Man Enough
  6. Just Be a Man About It
  7. How Many Ways [Mix]
  8. Breathe Again
  9. You Mean the World to Me
  10. I Belong to You
  11. How Could an Angel Break My Heart
  12. Un-Break My Heart
  13. Another Sad Love Song
  14. Seven Whole Days
  15. I Don't Want To
  16. Give U My Heart
  17. The Heat
  18. Gimme Some
  19. There's No Me Without You
  20. Why Should I Care
  21. Spanish Guitar [Mix]
  22. I'm Still Breathing
  23. Me & My Boyfriend
  24. Give It Back
  25. The Time of Our Lives
  26. He Wasn't Man Enough [Mix]
  27. Un-Break My Heart [Mix]
  28. Hit the Freeway
  29. Come on Over Here
  30. Let It Flow
  31. The Little Things
  32. Good Life [A Cappella Single Mix]
  33. Breathe Again [*][Version]
  34. I Belong to You [*][Version]
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