Picks and Pans Review: Spend the Night

updated 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/23/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Isley Brothers

The labeling is a little misleading. With the death of Kelly three years ago, the Isley Brothers have become, in essence, the ethereal voice of Ronald. (Sibling Rudolph contributes only background vocals.) Then again, when you've got a name with the product identity of the Isley Brothers (established in the '50s), it would be foolish to mess with it.

Spend the Night finds Ronald working exclusively with writer-producer Angela Winbush. It's a decent collaboration, but one that should have resulted in a more substantial record. After all, Ronald's sultry falsetto makes him rival Johnny Mathis as one of the most distinctive stylists in contemporary pop. And Winbush is one of the most reliable purveyors of sophisticated soul. They do glide into groove city with the luxuriously seductive title track, the finger-snapping sway of "If You Ever Need Somebody" and the smoky plea of "Baby Come Home." But after that, things thin out precipitously.

And (in the old Borsht Belt joke about bad resort food) the portions are so small. There are only seven songs on Spend the Night. They are fetchingly arranged and played, and Ronald is in fine form. But nothing grabs you the way you might expect. (Warner Bros.)

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