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THE ISLEY BROTHERS: MASTERPIECE & SMOOTH SAILIN’ (ROBINSONGS/CHERRY RED)
What an amazing introduction to this double header. From the start through to track five “Stay Gold” (co-penned by Stevie Wonder for the 1983 film “The Outsiders”) and including Phil Collins’ “If Leaving Me Was Easy”, the experience was one of oozing sensuality and drifting lyrics against sweeping melodies under a coating of delicately delivered vocals. Just beautiful, and oh-so compelling. Then the beat shifts up a step with “Colder Are My Nights”, with its harsh delivery coated in a velvet glove, if that makes sense. Immediately hypnotic and wantable, and leading into “Come To Me”, a mid-pacer of considerable likeability, especially the key change which simply adds to the magic.

“Masterpiece”, first issued by Warner Brothers in 1985 and featuring three Isleys – Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly – has so much going for it. And there’s more – check out the catchy hook on “Release Your Love” before it moves gently into “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World”, the worst track here, personally speaking. Sadly O’Kelly died within a year of this album’s release, so when “Smooth Sailin’ was issued two years later, the brothers were two, and the music had changed. By contrast, the second CD’s opening track smacks the listener between the eyes; a semi-funk song that leads into another “Dish It Out” before settling into “Come My Way”. A more calming sound arrives with the instant beat of “Smooth Sailin’ Tonight”, while “It Takes A Good Woman” hits the mid-paced button once again. Two very different CDs, but because of its languorous feeling and caressing melodies, all against a musical backdrop that seduces and sizzles, the first CD is the one for me.

Rating: 8



About the Writer
Sharon Davis ran the Four Tops fan club before spearheading Motown Ad Astra, catering for all the Motown acts, where she edited the in-house magazine TCB. Was publicist for Fantasy, Stax and Salsoul before joining Motown Records in London. Formed her own press/promotion company Eyes & Ears, worked for Blues & Soul magazine and website, and became a full time author and researcher. To date Sharon has written eleven books (her last A Girl Called Dusty published by Carlton Books) and she’s working on her next - Divas Of Motown. As a researcher, Sharon assisted Diana Ross with her autobiography Secrets Of A Sparrow, and is now in constant demand for her knowledge about Motown and its artists.
  
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