Atlantic Starr hit its commercial peak in the late '80s, when the bland, insipid adult contemporary ballad "Always" soared to number one on both the pop and R&B charts. That song put Atlantic Starr in the Whitney Houston/Lionel Richie realm – in other words, people who associate Atlantic Starr with "Always" think of them as a crossover act. But from an R&B standpoint (as opposed to a pop/adult contemporary standpoint), Atlantic Starr provided their best work in the early '80s, when Sharon Bryant was still on board and the East Coast residents were being produced by James Carmichael. Released in 1982, Brilliance was the second of three albums that Carmichael produced for Atlantic Starr – and it is also one of the band's finest and most essential releases.
Goodnight Vienna was very much a follow-up to Ringo, on which Ringo Starr called upon his bevy of musical buddies. Most prominent among them was John Lennon, who again wrote the leadoff track, "(It's All Da-Da-Down To) Goodnight Vienna," and played on three songs; also included are Elton John, who wrote and played on "Snookeroo," Dr. John, Billy Preston, Robbie Robertson, and Harry Nilsson. Richard Perry again produced, bringing his strong pop sensibility to the diverse material. The only real fall-off was in the songwriting; the album's Top Ten hits were "Only You," the old Platters song, and Hoyt Axton's novelty number "No No Song," which winked at intoxicants, but little else on the set stood out. Goodnight Vienna was another enjoyable Ringo record, but it lacked the star power and consistency of its predecessor. Still, compared to the rest of his '70s albums, it was a masterpiece.