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Album Review

Ronald and Ernie Isley might be a little too old to make babies — to be perfectly clear, father them — but it's evident they're not too old to make baby-making music. Impressively enough, Baby Makin' Music is their third strong album of the 2000s. A lot of younger artists in their prime can't claim such a thing. R. Kelly, who wrote and produced most of 2003's Body Kiss, is present on only one song here, but the Isleys don't miss a step when it comes to staying up with the times, tapping the likes of the rising Tim and Bob — who contributed in a minor capacity to Body Kiss — along with Jermaine Dupri, Troy Taylor, and Bryan-Michael Cox. Electric fireworks from Ernie's guitar are more recurrent than they were on Body Kiss, but they're often buried so deep in the mix and treated in a way that makes them sound like they were made by a computer program that generates facsimiles of his style. Otherwise, there are no problems. This is a remarkably tight album filled with songs that deliver on the promise of its title, and the songs that aren't immediately memorable at least make for fitting mood music. To no surprise whatsoever, Ronald is equally seductive whether he's making amends, bragging about his exploits, or just being sweet. Hearing him sing over Gladys Knight & the Pips' 30-year-old version of Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You," as he does over the opening "You're My Star," is kind of bizarre if you think about it, but it's only another way of demonstrating the Isleys' enduring vitality — across 50-plus years now. The Isley Brothers name has been responsible for hours upon hours of quality music, so this album is destined to be lost in the shuffle of their '60s and '70s material. Groups young enough to be their grandchildren would be more than proud to call it their own.

Biography

Born: 21 May 1941 in Cincinnati, OH

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The longtime lead vocalist for the Isley Brothers, Ronald Isley helmed the influential family group for over half a century, a period spanning not only multiple generations of siblings but also massive cultural shifts that heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering funk. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 21, 1941, a preteen Ronald joined siblings Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon to form the earliest incarnation of the group. After Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling...
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Baby Makin' Music, Ronald Isley
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