Personnel includes: Vanessa Williams (vocals); Dres (rap vocals); Norm Mertin (guitar); Hubert Laws (flute); Jorgen Kaufma (piano).
Producers include: Keith Thomas, Donald Robinson, Kenni Hairston, Dr. Jam, Phase 5.
Compilation producer: Harry Weinger.
Vanessa Williams managed to turn the disgrace of losing her Miss America title into a pretty good career as an actress, singer, and annoying shill for Radio Shack. The Best of Vanessa Williams, part of Mercury's 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection series, focuses on the vocal aspects of her talents and rounds up 11 of her hits for the label recorded between 1988 and 1997. She has two distinct specialties: the big ballad and the slinky, hip-hop-inspired dance track. Her biggest ballad is the smooth and somewhat saccharine "Save the Best for Last." It spent five weeks at number one in 1991 and was a real career-maker. The other four ballads on the record are similar in style but didn't have the same chart success. Williams' dance tracks are much more fun; she has a wonderfully light and airy voice that sounds right at home on polite dance tracks like "Work to Do," featuring a rap by Dres of the Black Sheep, "The Comfort Zone," and "Running Back to You." Her best dance tracks are the funky "The Right Stuff," which features Public Enemy's Bomb Squad on production, beats, and edits, and the Nu Shooz-sampling, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-written and produced "Happiness." Vanessa Williams is no Janet Jackson, but she is surprisingly good and this is a fine collection of her best work. ~ Tim Sendra