Stephanie Mills


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Some of Stephanie Mills' fans believe that Stephanie was her third album, but it was actually her fifth. Stephanie was her third album for 20th Century as well as her third album to reach gold, not to mention the third album that James Mtume and Reggie Lucas produced for her. And when you consider that her first two LPs -- 1974's Movin' in the Right Direction on ABC and 1975's For the First Time on Motown -- did very little commercially, you can see why some people think that Mills launched her recording career with her commercial breakthrough of 1979, What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'. Although not quite as strong as that album or 1980's Sweet Sensation, this is a generally pleasing LP that finds her romantic side prevailing. You won't hear another "Put Your Body in It" on Stephanie; the singer was trying to avoid being categorized as a disco diva, and it's no coincidence that ballads and slow jams are dominant. The track "I Believe in Love Songs" almost sounds like a statement of purpose from Mills, who fared well among quiet storm audiences with sleek offerings like "Magic," "Night Games," and the major hit "Two Hearts" (a duet with Teddy Pendergrass). Stephanie falls short of essential, but even so, it's a nice record to have in your collection.

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