When Mr. Biggs, the cartoonish alter-ego of Ronald Isley, busts out the same lovemaking-preparation kit album after album, it's easy to go along for the ride -- no matter how corny a senior citizen's playa shtick might sound.
But what the heck. This is Ronald "Fight the Power" Isley, the man whose elegant and silky tenor has melted muumuus from Cincinnati to Compton since 1954. Ronald Isley, the lead vocalist of immortal classics like "Shout!" and "Twist and Shout" (an enormous cover hit for some little white band from Liverpool, by the way). Yep, that Ronald Isley, who, along with brothers Ernie, Marvin and Rudolph (who all outlived the late Vernon and O'Kelly), should feel mighty proud of a long, influential and diverse career; they mastered every musical style from gospel and R&B to Motown soul and funk-rock fusion. The Isleys can also be thanked for recruiting an unknown backup guitarist named Jimi Hendrix in 1963. So props to the stylish, well-dressed legends.
But c'mon, playas! Why even bother calling this latest batch of tired retreads an Isley Brothers album at all? The family has been whittled down to a duo, and alleged kiddy porn connoisseur R. Kelly (reinventing himself as the Pied Piper -- yikes!) actually wrote, arranged and produced eleven of the twelve songs here. And his lyrics are goddamned ridiculous! Guitarist Ernie plays on a measly one track ("Take a Ride"); the rest of these trite, urban-based story-songs pit the cuckolded Biggs in a mock opera against the likes of da Piper ("What Would You Do?"), Li'l Kim ("Body Kiss") and Snoop Dogg ("I Like"). Snoopy even manages to rhyme Do it, do it with a tall glass of pimp fluid -- shizzow!
On Body Kiss, the remaining Isleys -- who are frustratingly adept at altering their sound to fit any conceivable market -- waste their talent singing B-movie bling-bling ballads. Worse yet, they do it at the expense of their tried-and-true, kid-tested, baby-making-approved brand name. But who knows? Maybe a tune like "Lucky Charm" can score Bigg Mack a cereal endorsement with its laughable line girl, you're magically delicious. It's always been more about green clovers than pink hearts anyway.