The Five Stairsteps

The First Family of Soul: The Best of the Five Stairsteps

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Though fans of the Jackson 5 or the Staple Singers would love arguing the claim of the title, the Five Stairsteps recorded some solid Windy City soul during the late '60s and early '70s, just a small step below the level of the Chi-Lites or the Impressions (whose Curtis Mayfield signed the group to his Windy C label and produced much of their material). Since their only well-known hit, "O-o-h Child," was also one of their last, it's appropriately relegated to the end of this collection, though neophytes may find it a difficult chore waiting 16 tracks to get to it. Easing the way are a pair of early Mayfield gems -- "You Waited Too Long" and "Danger! She's a Stranger" -- both superb examples of yearning, baroque soul. "Playgirl's Love" would've been a perfect fit on an Impressions LP, while a cover of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Ooo Baby Baby" proved a splendid choice of material. Though hit-seekers may prefer the Greatest Hits or Encore Collection sets, fans of the breezy Chicago sound or smooth supper-club soul will find much on this Buddha compilation to love.

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