Ranking the Best Silk Albums

Boyz II Men. Jodeci. Dru Hill. 112. Jagged Edge. Blackstreet.

Whenever the Internet is in the mood to argue about male 90s R&B groups (which is pretty much every waking moment) those tend to be the names that surface.

WHAT. ABOUT. SILK.

Now I know my love of Silk is well documented but biases aside, the facts can’t be ignored: Silk predates almost all the aforementioned R&B trendsetters; have legit classic songs up and down the decade, ranging from their 1992 debut to their 1999 comeback; have platinum plaques stamped with their names; were originally cosigned by the Vito Corleone of R&B Keith Sweat; and vocalists Lil G and John John are easily among the best of their generation.

These guys are just too good to be ignored.

You know what time it is – let’s review Silk’s entire discography from bottom to top. As always, we’re just talking studio LPs, no greatest hits or other compilations. Rankings are determined by album quality, consistency, and impact.

7. Quiet Storm (2016)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: If you’re an OG Soul In Stereo fan or a longtime listener of the Soulback Podcast, you probably already know that I named “Love 4 U to Like Me” the best R&B song of 2016, proving that Silk still had the magic more than two decades after their debut. Besides that refreshing single, though, there’s not many standouts on Quiet Storm. It’s kinda weird that an album named Quiet Storm has so many bouncy, upbeat tracks, but here were are. Quiet Storm is a listenable but uneven entry in Silk’s catalog, but hey, this album’s greatest legacy is finally reuniting the members as a quintet, so Happy Days and all that.

Um, we’ll get to that song later.

Forgotten favorites: “Love 4 U to Like Me,” “Billionaire,” “I Love You”

6. Silktime (2003)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Well, I sure hope y’all hung on to those physical copies. For some reason, this album is nowhere to be found on streaming platforms. And all you children laughed at me for continuing to hoard hundreds of CDs – old head wisdom wins again!

It’s a shame that Silktime has become such a rarity, it’s a solid effort. The layered harmonies of “More,” quality remakes like “Side Show” and solid storytelling in, um, “Check My Story” make for a very strong listen. I’ll state for the record that “Violin” should have been a massive hit in the early 00s. Crank out a video for that one and Midnight Love would have it in rotation for 12 months straight. This one is definitely worth a listen … if you can find it.

Forgotten favorites: “More,” “Check My Story,” “Violin”

5. Always and Forever (2006)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: It’s not unusual for veteran vocalists to drop cover albums, just ask Boyz II Men. If there’s anyone out here who can do the classics justice, it’s my boys Silk. Quite frankly, it’s pretty hard to rank cover albums – your brain is constantly comparing the new tracks to prior classics, so there’s a built-in bias. But props to Silk for making each song here their own without trampling over the originating artists’ legacy. From the synths of “Don’t Disturb this Groove” to the sultry heat of “Secret Garden,” every remake here is a quality offshoot of the source material.

Forgotten favorites: “Adore,” “There Will Never Be,” “Secret Garden”

4. Love Session (2001)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Admittedly, I unfairly waved off Love Session when it debuted, likely because I wasn’t in love with the single “We’re Calling U.” But that was in 2001 – today, my 2020 vision sees that this one is pretty underrated. When these guys are literally turning nursery rhymes into scorching slow jams, you know the talent is undeniable. The vocal performances here are top-notch. My only nitpick is that a quarter of the album’s tracks run longer than six minutes each. Long songs certainly aren’t a bad thing (I’ll take them over the bridgeless 2-minute wonders we get today) but a few songs overstay their welcome. Regardless, this album was much better than I remembered.

Forgotten favorites: “Love Session,” “Nursery Rhymes,” “Ebony Eyes”

3. Silk (1995)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: We’ve learned in recent years that Silk’s sophomore effort was hindered by label woes, but that’s no reflection on this set’s quality. Once again, some incredibly strong (yet overlooked) singles and potent album cuts make this a very complete package. It gets a little slow-jam heavy on the second half but when they’re this good, who cares?

Forgotten favorites: “Because of Your Love,” “How Could You Say You Love Me,” “Don’t Cry for Me”

2. Lose Control (1992)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: BAY BAY DON’T STOP! BAY BAY DON’T STOP – when Silk’s debut opens with the piano-backed interpretation of their hit “Freak Me,” you know you’re in for a treat. Lose Control is much more than its hit singles – and trust, there are hits APLENTY on this one. Instead, it’s a forward thinking album that blends a bit of that era’s New Jack Swing with the evolving soul sound of the early 90s. This set doesn’t get enough credit for helping to chart a new path for R&B. Unquestionably one of the forgotten standouts of 90s R&B.

Forgotten favorites: “Baby It’s You,” “I Gave to You,” “It Had to Be You”

1. Tonight (1999)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: After label woes and a sophomore album that disappointed commercially, Silk refocused, built a new team and jumped back into the unpredictable late 90s landscape with Tonight. The result? Their best work yet. The guys proved they hadn’t lost a step, delivering captivating singles and a dazzling array of album cuts that would become signature Silk tracks. Considering that Silk were a decade into their career at that point and were already written off by critics, some would call the success of Tonight a minor miracle. I’d just call it major talent.

Forgotten favorites: “Superstar,” “Turn-U-Out,” “Love You Down”

What’s your favorite Silk album? Do you own a copy of the mysterious Silktime album? Let us know below.

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3 Comments

  1. Tonight STAYS on repeat, and their cover of Ebony Eyes is 🔥🔥

  2. could you make a Johnny Gill or bobbay brown album rankings

  3. The Ebony Eyes cover is nice but is one in Love Session (for Me) that “overstays its welcome.” My Fave Silk cd is Lose Control. Then Tonight, which I bought (probably the very week of its release) in 1998 or 99. Ive always been curious of Silktkme since accidentally learning about it thru the web browsing a couple of years ago. For some reason I just can’t seem to find interest in the Silk Self Titled material / vocal showcases.

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