STEPHANIE MILLS Stephanie
JAP Universal CD, 2009
The original release on 20th Century Fox, 1981
1) Winner 2) Two Hearts - Featuring Teddy Pendergrass 3) Don't Stop Doin' What 'cha Do
4) Top Of My List 5) I Believe In Love Songs 6) Night Games 7) My Love`s Been Good To You
Produced by James Mtume & Reggie Lucas
This album was Stephanie Mills' third 20th Century Fox release, and now
all three have been reissued on CD. Unfortunately, her first 20th Century Fox album,
the excellent What Cha Gonna Do... With My Lovin'? is already out of print,
because it was a limited-edition release, so you'd better rush with
I wrote the album by album story of Stephanie Mills' career in 2004, and the printed
magazine is still available from our
online shop. The same
issue contains also an interview with Stephanie, done by Geoff Bingham
As I mentioned in my album by album story, this 1981 self-titled album by Stephanie
is best remembered for the Teddy Pendergrass duet Two Hearts,
which was also another top 10 hit for Stephanie and a moderate pop hit. It was
co-written by Tawatha Agee, the splendid lead vocalist of Mtume.
Tawatha is also featured as a background vocalist - together with Luther Vandross!
A 6-minute long 12" remix of the track was included on Stephanie's
Gold double disc collection that was released in 2006, but as often the case with
Japanese reissues, this release only contains the original album version
with no bonus cuts.
For some odd reason, the album opens with the weakest cut on offer, the forgettable
horn-laden mid-tempo mover Winner. Rodney Brown and Willie Lester
also contributed one track, titled Top of the List, but the tune was
less compelling than many of the songs they had written for Prelude artists. The
arrangement on this harmless jogger is not bad, though. My Love's Been Good to You
by Howard King and Edward Moore continues in a similar fashion.
My favourite tunes on this album were the classy Mtume-Lucas ballads Don't
Stop Doin' What 'Cha Do and Night Games, both of which perfeclty
demonstrated that Stephanie's real strength lied in passionate ballads, not in
the dance tunes that 20th Century Fox first made her sing.
Of the mid-pacers, I Believe in Love Songs was an obvious follow-up to
Never Knew Love Like This Before, which fared better on the pop charts
than on the soul chart. The record company realised that the melody of
I Believe in Love Songs was not memorable enough, and never released it
as a single. Instead they tried with Night Games, which peaked at position 33.
The closing tune Magic was written by Stephanie herself together with
Jeffrey Daniels, a Shalamar member to whom Stephanie was briefly married.
The tune is a MOR-ish song that reminds me of the material Stephanie recorded on
her For the First Time album produced by Hal David and
Much like the other two 20th Century Fox albums, Stephanie was an uneven
set as a whole, but certainly contained a couple of classy tunes that are
essential for Stephanie's devoted fans. The Pendergrass duet also consolidated
her position as one of the premier soul songstresses of the 80s.
- Ismo Tenkanen
Soul Express Video Pick from YouTube
Stephanie Mills with Teddy Pendergrass: Two Hearts