(Blogger’s note: I have written full reviews of all these albums on Rock Amino.)
When Lenny Kravitz released his album Raise Vibration last year, he said “Thirty years ago, I released Let Love Rule. My message is still the same. But has he really stayed that consistent? Let’s take a look at his discography and rank it from worst to best.
Let Love Rule (1989) *****
This is an excellent debuts, one of the best I ever heard. It shows us exactly what to expect, with a great mix of rock and funk. This is the only album which had contributions from his former wife Lisa Bonet.
Best tracks: “Let Love Rule”, “Freedom Train”, “Fear”, “Mr. Cab Driver.
Mama Said (1991) ***
This album was recorded with help from Slash and Sean Lennon. By this time, Lisa Bonet had given birth to their daughter Zoe. The album has a more light-rock feel, but it’s not bad. It feels like he’s trying to branch out.
Best Tracks: “Fields of Joy”, “Always on the Run”, “The Difference is Why”, “Stop Dragging Around”, “Flowers For Zoe”
Are You Gonna Go My Way (1993) *****
This is a consistent rocker, and one of his best-sellers. It’s a real classic from the 90’s and I love it.
Best Tracks: “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, “Believe”, “Heaven Help”, “Black Girl”, “Sister”
Circus (1995) ****
This album was plagued by personal issues, but it doesn’t show. Kravitz and Bonet had divorced, and his mother was sick. Despite this, it’s pretty good.
Best Tracks: “Rock n Roll is Dead”, “Can’t Get you Off Mind”, “God Is Love”, “The Resurrection”
5 (1998) ***1/2
Lenny Kravitz’s final 90’s album wasn’t well-received by critics, but I actually think it’s pretty good Some great singles, including his iconic cover of The Guess Who’s “American Woman”.
Best Tracks: “Super Soul Fighter”, “I Belong To You”, “Black Velveteen”, “Fly Away”, “American Woman”
Lenny (2001) ***
After a slight hiatus, Lenny Kravitz kind of took a dip in quality. This album is all right, but I’ve heard better.
Best Tracks: “Battlefield of Love”, “Yesterday is Gone”, “A Million Miles Away”, “Bank Robber Man”
Baptism (2004) **
At this time, Lenny Kravitz had wanted to write a straight 70’s funk-inspired album, but bouts of depression took this album in a different direction. In my opinion, this is his worst album.
Best Tracks: “Calling All Angels”, “Where Are We Running”, “Baptized”
It Is Time For A Love Revolution (2008) ****
Baptism was such a flop that Virgin records no longer wanted anything to do with him. It’s a shame, because this album was a great way for him to get back into his groove, and he was finally out of his funk from the previous 3 albums.
Best Tracks: “Love Revolution”, “Bring It On”, “If You Want It”, “I Love the Rain”, “A New Door”, “Back In Vietnam”
Black and White America (2011) *****
This is what Baptism was originally intended to be, a 70’s funk album. Inspired by his feelings toward what he felt was a rise in racism between both black and white people due to Obama’s presidency, this is probably his most heavy-handed album, but the message does not ruin the music at all. It’s his best album ever since Are You Gonna Go My Way.
Best Tracks: “Black and White America”, “Liquid Jesus”, “Rock Star City Life”, “Superlove”, “Faith of A Child”, “Push”
Strut (2014) *** 1/2
This was Kravitz’s first release on his own label, Roxie Records (named after his mother). It feels like an album that has more freedom than he had with Virgin. It’s a pretty good rocker.
Best Tracks: “Sex”, “The Chamber”, “New York City”, “Pleasure and the Pain”, “She’s a Beast”
Raise Vibration (2018) ***1/2
I am so surprised that I’m the only critic who put this on his best of 2018 list, especially since 2018 had lots of great albums. Like Black and White America, it’s heavy-handed, but I still enjoyed it.
Best Tracks: “Low”, “Who Really Are the Monsters”, “Raise Vibration”, “Gold Dust”
10) Mama Said
8) Raise Vibration
5) It is Time For a Love Revolution
3) Are You Gonna Go My Way
2) Let Love Rule
1) Black And White America
Next month is the first ever rap group ranking, the Beastie Boys!