For this week’s Second Listen Sunday, I decided to visit the Buckeye State and pay homage to The Rude Boys. The Cleveland-based quartet consisted of Larry Marcus, Melvin Sephus, Edward Lee “Buddy” Banks, and Joe Little III. Initially breaking onto the scene in 1990 with the hits “Written All Over Your Face” and “Are You Lonely For Me” from their debut, they wasted no time returning to the studio.
Second Listen Sunday : Ron Isley, Mr. I
Ron Isley’s name is synonymous with legendary music. Even before I entered the world in 1981, Mr. Isley’s group, The Isley Brothers, had already released nineteen albums. Serving as the signature voice of the group, Ron never officially released a solo project until 2010’s Mr. I. Some music historians will argue that the group’s 25th album, 1989’s Spend The Night, is a Ronald Isley solo album. After recording that album, group member Rudolph Isley officially left the group, and that is why Ron is the only Isley Brothers member on the cover.
Following his release from prison, Ron finally released his solo project. Ron had fifty years in the music industry, so I thought his solo debut would be more substantial. Ron’s first single was the ballad “No More” from Fuego (who co-produced “No More” with Max Gousse). It is a decent enough song but is a distant memory for the most part. Sadly, the album does not have any standout tracks other than “What I Miss The Most.” The production is dull and even guest appearances from T.I. on “Put Your Money on Me” and Aretha Franklin on “You’ve Got a Friend” aren’t up to par with Isley’s talent.
I respect Ron’s attempt to work with notable young producers such as Jerry `Wonda’ Duplessis, Greg Curtis Tricky Stewart, Kajun, and Song Dynasty, but the attempts fall short. Since they had a prior working relationship, I am surprised R.Kelly did not contribute anything to the disc or Ron’s label mate Ne-Yo. If Ron Isley wanted to re-emerge into the music scene, then maybe a soulful tribute album would have been better. I would love to hear Mint Condition on Fight the Power or hear Joe & Raheem Devaughn’s take on “Smooth Saillin.”
Thankfully, Ron’s follow-up project was a bit stronger, and there is enough classic material in his previous years that Ron has permission to have a mediocre release.
Final Grade: C-
Mr. I. is available on all streaming platforms
More reviews to explorer
Valentine’s Day 2024 may have come and gone, but I still plan to use highlight songs with the V-word for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. The artist I chose is a southern gentleman by the name of Lloyd. Initially breaking onto the scene as a member of the preteen-boy band N-Toon, Lloyd’s solo career kicked off in 2004 with the hit “Southside.”
As we continue to celebrate the month of love, I chose “Valentine by Ryan Leslie as the second song with the word valentine for February’s Slow Jam Saturday. Leslie broke into the music industry in 2003, writing hits for Beyoncé and New Edition. Leslie released the singles “The Way That U Move Girl” and “Used 2 Be” featuring Fabolous. However, his debut album was never officially released due to creative differences with his record label. In late 2007, Leslie finally broke through with the bop “Diamond Girl,” and his self-titled album would finally hit record stores on February 10, 2009. Leslie also succeeded with the follow-up singles “Addiction” and “How It Was Supposed to Be.” Surprisingly, though, Leslie didn’t drop “Valentine” as the fourth single, which would have timed perfectly with the album release date.