Ever the reverent soulman, R. Kelly helped resurrect the career of idol Ronald Isley by casting him in videos and story songs as "Mr. Biggs," a wealthy and powerful but cuckolded sugar daddy in romantic competition with Kelly's brash young buck. The partnership has helped make Isley a marketable commodity nearly 50 years into his career. Body Kiss is credited to The Isley Brothers, albeit with suspiciously prominent credits going to both Ronald Isley and his alter ego, but it's more of a collaboration between the honey-voiced singer and Kelly, who wrote, produced, and arranged 11 of its 12 tracks and guested on three more. Ernie Isley, The Isley Brothers' invaluable multi-instrumentalist and one of the most distinctive guitarists in soul music, appears on the cover and in the album booklet, but his contribution is limited to a single solo. Donnie Lyle, Kelly's guitarist, provides the vast majority of the guitar parts, and while he's a fine player in his own right, Body Kiss suffers from the absence of Ernie's quicksilver fretwork and surging leads. Without his swaggering guitar, Body Kiss too often drowns in the languid rhythms of its own quiet storm. The pairing of Ronald Isley and R. Kelly is promising in theory, but less so in practice: Body Kiss highlights the latter's weaknesses while obscuring his formidable strengths. "Superstar" is pandering and smarmy, while "Lucky Charm" suggests that Kelly has been looking to breakfast cereals for romantic inspiration–what woman wouldn't want to be told she's "magically delicious"? From incongruous stabs at hip-hop slang to clumsy guest appearances by rappers (Li'l Kim, Snoop Dogg) to dopey story songs, Body Kiss plays like a sampler of Kelly's worst tendencies. Isley's vocals remain supple and seductive, conveying vulnerability and warmth through even the most trite sentiments, but not even he can transform musical tin into sonic gold. Kelly's partnership with Isley has yielded enormous commercial rewards for the elder legend, but on Body Kiss, it comes at an artistic cost.