Picks and Pans Review: Merciless

updated 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Stephanie Mills

Just to prove that not even record-company publicity can be out of touch with reality all the time, what Casablanca Records says about this album—"The most varied and sophisticated Stephanie Mills music to date"—is exactly right. It is, for one positive thing, toned down both in image and material from her hypersexed Tantalizingly Hot album of last year. Mills goes from vivacious funk on this LP's hot single, Pilot Error, to quiet romance on Eternal Love, to a sly duet with impressive Peggy Blue on His Name Is Michael, a clever tune about two women discovering they have the same lover (Mills wrote it with Michael Sembello—yes, the same one who co-wrote and sings the Flashdance hit Maniac—and her sister-in-law Cassandra.) The album also includes Prince's How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore? and Luther Vandross' My Body, though the version recorded isn't from the session Vandross himself sat in on, which is a loss to all concerned. In this release Mills more than makes up in emotion and depth for what she may have lost in youthful exuberance. She has become one of pop music's most interesting, entertaining performers.

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