Various Artists

Smooth Grooves: Steppin' Out

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Assembled from the vast catalog of steppers cuts, Smooth Grooves: Steppin' Out is a good primer for those unfamiliar with the Chicago-born steppers movement. Some of the records were huge hits (William DeVaughn's million-selling "Be Thankful for What You Got") while others were rescued from obscurity by becoming steppers favorites. The CD shows the wide genre range that stepping emcompasses. It includes the 1988 remix of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" and the Ebonys' lush and lanquid "Life in the Country" to the driving "Staten Island Groove" by Down to the Bone and the jazzy/strings-laced "Soft and Easy" by the Blackbyrds. No doubt bootleggers are gritting their teeth over the inclusion of such long out of print, in-demand jams such as Dramatics lead singer L.J. Reynolds' "Key to the World" and his sister Jeannie Reynolds' "The Fruit Song." If there is a follow-up CD, it'd be nice to have more out of print tracks listed. Veteran radio personality Herb Kent offers a historical perspective on stepping in the liner notes. Though Jeffree Perry's "Love's Gonna Last" ("the steppers national anthem") is missed, Smooth Grooves: Steppin' Out stands on its own.

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