Stephanie Mills

Movin' in the Right Direction

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Though Mills' Motown LP For the First Time subtly suggests it was her debut album, it was really the follow-up to this very rare set from earlier the same year. Released before her successful stint on Broadway as Dorothy in The Wiz, the album leaves no doubt about the singer's vocal prowess even at age 19. The musical selections are often not the most substantial compositionally, but Mills' covers of "Over the Rainbow," "Danny Boy," and "Home" (from The Wiz) are fine moments. "Over the Rainbow" is given a funky midtempo soul treatment, and "Home" is adapted to a light early-disco feel. Of the original numbers, standouts are the understated ballad "I Knew It Was Love" and the zesty "I Don't Want to Go Back." The former was Mills' first single and aptly showcases her distinctive pipes in an emotive setting. Movin' is not as memorable and classic as her breakthrough work for 20th Century, overall; but her sterling quality vocal performances and a few standouts make it a quite pleasurable listen -- especially for the Mills connoisseur.

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