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Steppin' Out [Japan]

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Cleopatra 9/19/2000

Review

Still all under the age of 20, the three Higgins sisters who perform under the name of second oldest sibling Cleopatra have come a long way from Manchester on their second album. With 1998's Comin' Atcha, which featured three Top Five hits in the U.K., they were part of the teen-pop wave started by the Spice Girls two years earlier. But though they got some attention in the U.S., including a Top 40 entry for "Cleopatra's Theme," the American market didn't quite know what to make of a black trio that didn't sound like R&B. Steppin' Out answers that confusion by moving the group in an R&B/hip-hop direction without sacrificing their teen-pop approach. Employing a variety of production teams including Cutfather Joe, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and recording at various U.S. and U.K. locations, as well as in Norway and Denmark, Cleopatra has come up with an album of 11 potential singles, most of them in a familiar dance-pop style. "Nobody Said," the lone holdout from Manchester writer/producers Tim Scrafton and Kenny Hays, is a ballad containing self-help advice, while Jam & Lewis' "Who's Your Woman," anchored by a striking single-note keyboard pattern, has an inventive sound. But for the most part, whether they're in Scandinavia, England, or America, the trio is singing harmless romantic pop (typical titles: "Take Me Now," "Come and Get Me") over light dance tracks. The weak spot is actually in the vocals. Even though their mother Christine is credited with "additional vocals" on every track (she even gets her own section for her thank-you's in the characteristically lengthy acknowledgments section of the album booklet), the sisters, led by Cleopatra herself, are not distinctive singers capable of giving this trite material any depth or particularity. In 1998, you had to say that Cleopatra was no Spice Girls; in 2000, you'd have to add that they're no Destiny's Child, either. [Also available as a Japanese import.] ~ William Ruhlmann
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Press Here to Start Cleopatra 3:49
  3. 2 Come and Get Me Cleopatra 3:36
  4. 3 U Got It Cleopatra 3:24
  5. 4 Sweat Me Cleopatra 4:52
  6. 5 Who's Your Woman Cleopatra 5:6
  7. 6 Nobody Said Cleopatra 5:11
  8. 7 Number One Fan Cleopatra 3:30
  9. 8 Voo Doo Cleopatra 4:15
  10. 9 Yes This Party's Going Right Cleopatra 4:42
  11. 10 You Can't Be in My Life Cleopatra 3:29
  12. 11 Bingo My Love Cleopatra 3:44
  13. 12 Questions and Jealousy Cleopatra 4:2
  14. 13 Take Me Now (Stop Stop) Cleopatra 3:21

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