Various Artists

Steppin Across the U.S.A., Vol. 1

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Stepping has become a known dance style that originated in Chicago. It's really nothing scientific -- mostly mid-tempo songs from the '70s and '80s are used. Rhino did a so-so collection in 2000 entitled Steppin' Out. As the style began to get more popular, it was clear different labels would release even more sets. In 2001 the record company Steppin Muzak Records released six titles at once with songs well known to aficionados of the dancing style. For those who aren't familiar with the culture, the songs from this first volume are mostly lost jazz, R&B, or fusion gems from the '70s and '80s. The '80s are represented by War member Lonnie Jordan's "The Affair" and Gerry Woo's smooth 1987 track "Help Yourself." Acts and songs from the '90s -- including Degrees of Motion, Ron Johnson, and Billy Porter -- all pale in comparison to the stronger, older efforts. Only Toshi Kubota's "Nothing but Your Love" from 2000 stands tall with the other songs. Steppin Across the U.S.A., Vol. 1 isn't definitive due to some inclusions and the running time, but it's a fine way to kick off a set that will work on many levels.

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