Jason’s Jukebox: Lenny Kravitz

(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.

loverule

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.

mamasaid

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”

areyou

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

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”

5kravitz

(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

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

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”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Lenny Kravitz”

Jason’s Jukebox: Styx Worst to Best

logostyxThere are many bands that I feel are unjustly hated. One of these is Styx, which has been making great music since the 70’s. This time on Jason’s Jukebox, I’ll be ranking all of their albums from worst to best.

styx1 Styx  (1972)** Single: “Best Thing”

This album begins the “Wooden Nickel” era, so named because they were signed to that label at the time. It’s an all right debut, starting with “Movement for the Common Man”, a 4-part suite. This was more of a prog rock sound, but they didn’t stay that way. Best tracks: “Movement for the Common Man”, “Best Thing”.

styx2Styx II (1973) *** Singles: “You Need Love”, “Lady”

This is the first album not to feature songs written by James Young. (The album was later renamed Lady after Styx left Wooden Nickel) It’s a little better than their debut, and gave them their first big hit, “Lady”.  Best tracks: “Lady”, “Little Fugue in G”, “You Need Love”

styx3The Serpent is Rising (1973)* This is Styx’s first concept album, and the band considers it their worst recording. I won’t disagree. It contains a hidden track called “Flexible Plexiglass Toilet” that I think is their worst song. It’s good for a laugh, but I just can’t stand it.

Best track: “Krakatoa”

styx4 Man of Miracles (1974) ***1/2 This album has a different tracklist, depending on which version you listen to. My version had “Lies” on it instead of the re-releases that were on other versions. This was their final album on the Wooden Nickel album, and the best one from that era for me.

Best tracks: “Rock n Roll Feeling”, “Lies”, “Evil Eyes”

equinox Equinox (1975) ***1/2 Singles: “Light Up”, “Lorelei”

This was their debut on A&M, which had probably the best production value so far. It’s a blast and just feels more bombastic than their Wooden Nickel material. I think this is a great place to start for them, and it shows a lot of promise.

Best tracks: “Lorelei”, “Midnight Blue”, “Born For Adventure”, “Prelude 12”

crystal Crystal Ball (1976) ***1/2 Singles: “Mademoiselle”, “Crystal Ball”, “Jennifer”

This album has a recital of Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune” leading into the final track “Ballerina”. Dennis DeYoung wrote “This Old Man” for his father.

Best tracks: “Jennifer”, “Claire de Lune/Ballerina”, “This Old Man”

illusion The Grand Illusion (1977)***** Singles: “Come Sail Away”, “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)”

This is my favorite Styx album, with many fantasy themes. This is considered the album that launched the band into stardom. And I love that album cover.

Best tracks: “Come Sail Away”, “Fooling Yourself”, “Castle Walls”, “The Grand Illusion”

pieces Pieces of Eight (1978)****1/2 Singles: “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”

This is the band’s second concept album, with a theme about perseverance. It achieved triple platinum success, and definitely deserves it. Lots of great songs on here.

Best Tracks: “Lords of the Ring”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”, “The Message”

cornerstone Cornerstone (1979) ***1/2 Singles: “Babe”, “Boat on the River”

This album began the transition from prog rock to a more “arena” rock sound, as a response to the bad press they were getting on their first tour of England. The album is packed with ballads. While it’s a different sound from their previous work, I still like it.

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Styx Worst to Best”