Album Review The Isley Brothers,
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Way back Wednesday Album Review : The Isley Brothers, Smooth Sailin’

The Isley Brothers were already legends in the music game when their 24th album Smooth Sailin arrived. Hitting record stores on March 14th, 1987, Smooth Sailin was the first album that the brothers released as a duo of Rudolph and Ronald. Eldest brother O’Kelly had sadly passed away one year prior.

Wanting to go in a new direction, the brothers linked up with singer-songwriter Angela Winbush. The songstress had a hand in the writing and production of all but one of the album’s eight tracks. “Everything Is Alright” opens up the album, which finds the brothers experimenting in synthesized production. Ronald’s vocals still sound impeccable as ever over Winbush’s production.

It is clear that the label wanted the group to appear to a younger crowd with Winbush’s production choices. As I glided through song titles such as “Dish It Out” and “It Takes a Good Woman,” they just didn’t hit for me. Now, this is not a diss to the immense talent of Winbush or The Isley’s. However, the songs either do not fit or there safe. “Dish It Out would’ve been better suited for New Edition and placed on a soundtrack. While It Takes a Good Woman” attempts to evoke reggae seem better suited for, say Maxi Priest. 

“Send a Message” gets the album back on track, thankfully. A beautiful tribute and dedication song for their brother O’ Kelly Isley evoked memories for me of two friends I have lost in the last decade. Ron croons over heartfelt lyrics highlighting a love for his sibling. The album’s title track follows. What can I say about this BOP that you do not already know?

Smooth Sailin Tonight is a smooth ride-out track that has numerous layers to it. Whether you want to get over a heartbreak of a failed relationship, set the mood for a night of romance, or sit by the fire with a glass of wine, then you listen to this song.

“Somebody I Used to Know” finds the group thinking about lost love. Ron effortlessly croons about the one that got away and takes ownership of his mistakes before transitioning to a new conquest on “Come My Way.” Ironically, the song covers an earlier Winbush track from her days in the duo Rene & Angela. Smooth Sailing closes out with a textbook begging ballad from Ron written by Raymond Reeder titled “I Wish.”

Smooth Sailing is a weaker entry in the Isley’s Brothers catalog. However, it was the start of a tremendous fourteen-year musical chemistry run with Angela Winbush. There is some strength in the ballads, but the first half is forgettable. Nevertheless, the album title track puts to shame some artists whose careers started after The Isley Brothers.

Final Grade: C+

Top Tracks: Smooth Sailin Tonight, “Send A Message,” and “Come My Way”

Smooth Sailin is available on all streaming platforms

Movie Clappers

More reviews to explorer

Whitney Houston, Just Whitney

Second Listen Sunday: Whitney Houston, Just Whitney

In the fall of 2002, R&B music was a changing landscape. However, that didn’t stop The Prom Queen Of Soul, a.k.a., Mrs. Whitney Houston, from releasing her fifth album Just Whitney on December 10th, 2022. Just Whitney was Houston’s fifth studio album and the first after she renewed her contract with Arista for $100 million.

The O’Jays “I’m Ready Now”

Slow Jam Saturday: The O’Jays “I’m Ready Now”

The current lineup of legendary R&B trio features founding members Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, Sr., and Eric Nolan Grant, who joined the group in 1997. Tonight I get to cross an item off my musical bucket list as I’m attending the Washington D.C. stop of the group’s Last Stop on the Love Train tour.

The Commodores, Nightshift

Second Listen Sunday: The Commodores, Nightshift

No matter the music genre, every group has a standout member who is destined for solo stardom. Lionel Richie was already three years into a successful solo career when his former band, The Commodores, released its eleventh album, Nightshift.

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

© Copyright Reviews & Dunn. All rights reserved

website designed by Red Robin Digital designers