Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love," Stephanie Mills (5/3/86)
There are few divas I love more passionately than Stephanie Mills, as I've discussed elsewhere. And the reason is that, frankly, most of her catalog is still fucking classic (well, that and the fact that her voice is still a wonder: check '99's "Latin Lover," produced by Masters at Work, or for that matter much of her 2004 album Born for This!). Take this, the start of one of the biggest comebacks of the '80s - though most of white America didn't notice. In the previous five years, Mills had only hit the top ten of the R&B charts once (with '84's "The Medicine Song," which only made it to #65 pop). But it all changed with "Respect," the first of five #1s she'd have over the next three-and-a-half years. On this carefully understated midtempo ballad, Mills coos, the backing girls do their thing, and - this is crucial - the bass pops like it was lifted from a Gap Band record. All of these ingredients lift up the best "I was a fool, but I learned" lyric since Diana Ross's "The Boss" back in '79. Triumphant. A

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