The Isley Brothers’ ‘Body Kiss’ Turns 10
The Isley Brothers are timeless. Their catalog holds a range of soul classics from 1959 to 2006, giving them at least three generations of music fans.
Their talent transcends pop culture’s fascination with youthful bodies and ever-changing trends. Their album ‘Body Kiss’ is an example of this rare quality only but a few artists possess. As one of the last albums they recorded, it gained the ears of millennial listeners as well as their grandmothers.
Released on May 6, 2003, it was the group’s 29th studio album and first No. 1 Billboard 200 LP since their 1975 ‘The Heat Is On.’
The Cincinnati, Ohio natives were given refreshment from the fountain of youth, with the help of the Pied Piper himself, singer R. Kelly. He wrote, produced and arranged most of the 12 tracks, which were a soap opera full of relations in and outside of the bedroom. The smooth operators’ stories were not much different than what they’d already released on their past records. But the chemistry between the Isley Brothers and R. Kelly was a great meshing of past and present artists of R&B, which made the album worth the attention it received.
“It’s a combination of what’s real right now: classic R&B with a pop influence, and it’s a very sensual record. It’s what we’ve always done — only even better,” Ronald Isley said of ‘Body Kiss’ in a past interview.
R. Kelly provided the Isley Brothers with lyrics full of theatrical dialogue, where men are not the only ones creeping, but it seems women in the songs are even better at it. Reminiscent of the 1977 slow jam ‘Footsteps in the Dark,’ Ronald Isley confronts his cheating lady about her trifling ways with an emphatic falsetto on ‘Busted.’
“Its 2 o’ damn clock in the morning Where you been? (Baby didn’t you get my 2-way I was with my girlfriend) / You a lie / I called Kiesha and Tanya and they were both at home,” Ron and singer JS sing back and forth on the drama-filled cut, which ends in goodbye.
But just as much as Ronald can speak from the heart of a scorn man, bitterness isn’t his only story. The Isley Brothers can melt in love as well. On ‘Prized Possession,’ a mid-tempo ballad, he’s realized the beauty of finding the one, which is comparable to a spiritual church experience. “Sanctuary Is what you Are to me Yeah No dictionary Can find The words to say How much I love you Hallejiah,” sings Isley.
In 2004, the Isley Brothers were honored with the lifetime achievement award at the BET Awards. But as music veterans who are no stranger to the Billboard R&B charts’ top ten, they are well overdue for a few more of these awards. Won’t someone please give them the flowers while they can still smell them? One thing’s for sure, the Isley Brothers’ “cool” will never expire.
Watch the Isley Brothers’ ‘What Would You Do?’ Video