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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's really not getting any better than this - most of the time.
When I am offered to review music albums, sometimes I hesitate. In the case of Lenny Kravitz' newest album "Black and White In America," I jumped at it. If there is one artist who walks to the sound of his own bell-bottomed steppin', fuzzy guitar playin', kick drum kickin', bass-pumpin' beatin' platform shoes, it's Lenny. This long awaited album is supposed to be his...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by John J. Martinez

versus
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspired from late 70s/early 80s funk, reinvented for the ears of the modern generation.
The long awaited 9th studio album by Lenny Kravitz is finally amongst us.
After the delay in finishing the album, and the push backs from the original release date, the album's has been released.
Possibly a little late since the majority of songs on here were meant to be enjoyed on a hot summers day, catching the rays with a cocktail of your choice by your side...
Published on 22 Aug 2011 by absolute jazz


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's really not getting any better than this - most of the time., 22 Aug 2011
By 
John J. Martinez (Chicago, Illinois, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
When I am offered to review music albums, sometimes I hesitate. In the case of Lenny Kravitz' newest album "Black and White In America," I jumped at it. If there is one artist who walks to the sound of his own bell-bottomed steppin', fuzzy guitar playin', kick drum kickin', bass-pumpin' beatin' platform shoes, it's Lenny. This long awaited album is supposed to be his "funk opus," but went through a lot of changes in title (original title: 'Negrophilia') and release dates (late 2010, early 2011), but it's finally here, and you'll be glad it is here.

He's all at once as fresh and inventive as Prince, or any of the Isley Brothers, with a touch of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the ugly funk wonderfulness of James Brown. You put all of them into a blender and pour some hot buttered soul on top of it, and you've got Lenny Kravitz' sound - this album is no different in pushing the boundaries of what's hot and retro at the same time. Granted, this message is intended for Americans (because it's in part about the "American experience"), but I know my European, Latin and Sino brothers and sisters will understand the universal messages he presents us all here.

16 songs, totaling over 65 minutes:

01. Black and White America - right off the bat, the horns and the drum beat tell you that this isn't going to end wonderful, it's gonna end up with you in a hot sticky sweat, but don't forget the message - racism has been part of the fabric of America culture, whether we wanted it to be there or not. Lenny tells us through song about his past, his interracial parents who faced death for their decision in the 1960's, and to tell the children of all of these sacrifices that black and white are no longer part of what we should be - we're all Americans, and that's it. (on a personal note, having faced this same kind of short-sighted ignorant racism here in Chicago myself, I totally understand his message.)

02. Come On Get It - this song was released for use in advertising by the NBA (basketball, y'all) here in America, but the song's message is totally different if you listen to it - he's simply saying "I love ya and let's jump into it - come on and get it!", borrowing a bit from the cool funky rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. it's hot and sexy and classic Lenny. Yeah!

03. In the Black - we're laying in bed, we're under the covers, we can do we want, we can love all day and all night, and inside the black under these very covers this world is ours - this song is (again) sexy and strong and full of hope, because what's wrong with waking up with someone in your bed everyday and they love you and you love them?

04. Liquid Jesus - with the simple beginning of the kick drum of an 808, it becomes 1960's Marvin Gaye fabulous and the 1970's strings of Barry White, but only a little. This song is wonderful and mellow and smooth.

05. Rock Star City Life - the number one rule of thumb on makiing an album is to always always always follow a ballad with a rocker, and Lenny delivers 100%, with the flare of his trademark electric guitar. The story is simple - a girl wants to be part of the rock star lifestyle, so she follows the plan: she's got the attitude, the look, she's underage, she becomes from a groupie, and wouldn't you know it, she becomes VERY popular overnight! It's a story that's worked since the dawn of rock and roll, and some have become wives, some have dropped away, and some have gotten famous in tell-all books and glorified in song - kinda like this one!

06. Boongie Drop (featuring Jay-Z & DJ Military) - this song doesn't fit on the album at all, probably because of it's - dare I say it? - modern sound. It has a dark overtone, and it's precise and a little angry, but it's still got a great sound to it. Here's a little something from the Urban Dictonary I found online: BOONGIE - Bahamian for "butt" or "booty," sometimes including the upper thighs. Bahamians have a preference for well developed "boongies"..." So we get it. It's a great stepping tune, though...

07. Stand - There's nothing wrong with a positive message from a man who knows how to deliver it - what's wrong in saying "America, you've been knocked down by bad advice the the wrong people, so face the bullies and stand up and fight for what was always yours in the first place!" It's not a "rah-rah" hippie song, it's a good and well-intentioned message, and I'm proud of him for continuing to stay a positive force in such an angry world with so much bad stuff happening. The song stops short, and immediately goes into

08. Superlove - the Isley Brothers are all over this one, as Lenny simply wants you to accept his love fror you and all he wants is your super love - classy, simple and to the point, and I love it...

09. Everything - this is classic Lenny and the classic Lenny message - you give me everything I could ever need... the song is another wonderful knockout love song.

10. I Can't Be Without You - this isn't a song so much, but a plea for his lover to understand, because when you're there, I'm complete, and the distance between us is just too much to bear... a great subtle track that builds in intensity and the fades quietly away.

11. Looking Back On Love - this song is every broken heart Lenny's gone through, every wrong move he's made, every woman he's lost, all seen through a faded TV screen and through pictures that remind him of his past as well. We all pretty much kow his story and know his heartaches too. Put yourself in his place and you'll feel it with him, too. That's when the Earth Wind and Fire synth piano jumps into the solo, and the song only gets better as he sums it all up for us - "when I'm finally dead, will I finally be alive?"

12. Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now - this is going to be Lenny's first big hit off the album, guaranteed - as he says "it's not a song, it's more like a prayer," and he's feeling good about his life, and how it's going now, and you know what? He's right - we all should celebrate the fact we got another day on this earth, no matter how the rest of the world is going, I've got my health, I've got my pride, and then we launch into one of the best parts of the album, the horn section going off, kinda like the way sax player Maceo Parker took off when His Royal Funkiness James Brown used to let him go for it. This is a great song, and re-affirming, and you should play this every morning when you get up, and you'll be glad you did!

13. The Faith of a Child - this is the one song that Lenny has included on every album at one point or another - peace, peace, peace! We've got to have faith "of a child" that we can "still turn it around." When the (cheesy) choir and the (even cheesier) church organ jumped in, I was a little turned off, because I've heard this kind of song a hundred times before, but Lenny still delivers a song worthy of John Lennon in 2011, as Kravitz' life has been filled enough with anger and drama for 10 people, so why not want a little peace for everyone else too?

14. Sunflower (featuring Drake) - I don't know what to think, because I'm trying to figure out is this a light Jamaican raggae beat drifitng around a 1980's synth piano and horns? She makes him feel alright, so why not let that be enough for him, though? The rap from Drake kinda breaks in from the clouds and the song floats along the breeze like a good gust of cool wind on a warm day. It's nice, and lite, and drifts away to...

15. Dream - the solo piano at the beginning kinda reminds me of the beginning of Robbie Williams' 2001 song "Eternity," but the tone of this song is so totally different. Once again Lenny takes on the ugly ghosts of adversity, as he knows it's the one who's been keeping down so many others who've tried and failed, but he's not giving up, and he's saying neither should we. Another classic song (and one of the longest on the album) that is both new and timeless at the same time, and it's great.

16. Push - the memory of his past is pushing him through to make it a better future for himself and for anyone who wants to go with him. Is he where he is right now? No. Does he want more for himself? Definitely. This song only lets us all know that Lenny hasn't peaked yet, he's only getting stronger and more fired up for the fight that he knows he has to undertake if he's going to be a better man, and I guess if that's the message he's pushing on us, I get it.

(On the deluxe CD package there's two other songs and a separate DVD with interviews and other stuff)

So what can be said about Lenny Kravitz circa 2011? Has he gone backwards too far in his wayback machine musically to deliver a message that has been done by many other artists before? Maybe, but consider this: there are very few men (and women) who really do try and stretch their musical boundaries and flex their intellectual muscles, and on that Lenny delivers.

Once again, the album was supposed to be a long-awaited funk special of some sort, but I think in delaying this for over two years - to finally put out what is at most 80% cohesive - Kravitz proves yet again that rock and soul (or funk and roll) isn't dead, it's just been out there, and he just now made sure he grabbed it up and put it here for us to hear.

Overall, I'm going to have to give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Half of the album is a blast, and we hear Lenny at his best, doing what he does best - rocking the hell out of a song and having fun with flashy funky tunes. The second half in some spots gets a bit heavy and sometimes a little bit too preachy. I really do like the album overall, but I'll just stick with that one good half of the album - the side that rocks out and has fun, which is what Lenny Kravitz has no shortage of.

His message of peace is necessary, but it's just a bit too 1969 8-track for such a cold sad angry 2011 mp3 world.

(Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps in your decision - please don't forget to leave a comment or a vote!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Made for vinyl, 23 Nov 2011
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This album was made for vinyl. Kravitz said so himself when he released it. Videos of which can be found on youtube. I actually bought this as a present and it is such a much nicer gift than a CD. It is beautiful to look at too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock America, 11 Sep 2011
This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
"Black and White America" by Lenny Kravitz is a good quality cd that is filled with electic music. My two favorite songs on "Black and White America" are "Sunflower" (featuring Drake) and "Rock Star City Life". "Sunflower" (featuring Drake) is a unique song that is about someone that brings happiness and fun into a person's life. "Sunflower" denotes being in love with someone that is part of the sunshine of life. "Rock Star City Life" is a musical track about someone who has a zest for life. "Black and White America" is good for anyone who enjoys a diverse range of music on their cd.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inspired from late 70s/early 80s funk, reinvented for the ears of the modern generation., 22 Aug 2011
This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
The long awaited 9th studio album by Lenny Kravitz is finally amongst us.
After the delay in finishing the album, and the push backs from the original release date, the album's has been released.
Possibly a little late since the majority of songs on here were meant to be enjoyed on a hot summers day, catching the rays with a cocktail of your choice by your side and a few friends to hang out with to spread the good times. Unfortunately, the record does come with its problems that might jeopardize the credit of the artist.
As it is always the way with Lenny Kravitz, you are invited to a host of instrumentally glories that most artists just cannot muster.
Credited with playing the piano, the drums, the synthesizer and the acoustic, electric and bass guitars, this one man band only had the help of the trusted Craig Ross to aid him with a more acoustic and electric guitar magic. Oh and did I mention Hip Hop icons Jay-Z and Drake along with DJ Military feature as well! The album features different numbers inspired from late 70s/early 80s funk, reinvented for the ears of the modern generation. Possibly for the connoisseur, it might have been too much to cope with as something is missing.
There is a range of styles to choose from as you can either rock out with the guitar heavy "Come On Get It", get under the covers with the Barry White bass vibes in "Looking Back On Love" or smile in ecstasy with the fun loving bouncy "Everything".
However, there isn't really a stand out classic song that will last forever to keep this record going.
On previous albums, the 4 time Grammy award winner has brought that special spark to the front that has blown the world away.
Unfortunately you can't see it on this record.
An easy record to listen to will suit the outdoors in the background when you are chilling with your amigos or driving down the riviera to the seaside which is hard to come by nowadays is an achievement in itself.
"Black & White America" is not going to turn heads and is certainly not the best Lenny Kravitz work you will come across but by just reading the song titles of the tracks and listening to the aftermath suggests that Lenny is in a good place.
Particularly the track "Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now" brings out the positive energy Lenny is famous for.
Lenny Kravitz is a talent that will live forever, perhaps not this record. D. Woodhouse.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars brilliant apart from 3-4 fillers, 22 Aug 2011
By 
A. Bray - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
Really like most of this album. More funk than other kravitz albums and I think there are some really memorable tracks (Everything, Superlove)so all in all a great album. It does still contain his distinctive rock sound on many tracks.

The only problem for me is the fact there are 3 or 4 fillers including the appalling Jay Z featured track Boongie Drop (only on there for marketing purposes maybe?)

Given its a long album (16 tracks not including bonus acoustics),if I was editing it I would get rid of these and have an even better, standard length album without having to skip these few.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing, 11 Jun 2013
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Could have been a far better album if some of the lesser songs had been removed I don't see the need to fill a disc with so many tracks if they aren't up too standard .
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5.0 out of 5 stars One for the collection, 3 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
First time I played this I loved it,its a varied mix of music performed by one of the best,Recommend this CD Well worth the money!!Black And White America
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4.0 out of 5 stars Love it, 1 Dec 2011
By 
F. H. Witte (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
Although it is typical Lenny, the band is very original with all kinds of different tunes. It is a shame that not a lot of people have heard any of it on the radio.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lenny is back, hurrah !!, 7 Nov 2011
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This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
This album is just great. I can't find a single bad song on the album. All the songs have their own message and all deserve to be on the album. Favourites are 'In The Black', 'Rock Star City Life', 'Stand', 'Everything', 'Looking Back on Love' which sounds as if it got some Donny Hathaway influence - think 'The Ghetto'. Other favourites are 'The Faith of a Child' and 'Push'.

Some reviewers don't like 'Boongie Drop' but I really like it.

I think it's a great album and, for me, fills the Lenny Kravitz hole that he left after his 'Love Revolution' album. I think this album is just fantastic and is my favourite album at the moment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great funk follow up to his album 5, 8 Oct 2011
By 
Amillionmiles (Hove, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Black And White America (Audio CD)
After 3 years break, Lenny Kravitz brings his first funk influenced album since "5". Although released 13 years later, his ninth album "Black And White America" bears quite a few similarities to its funk predecessor with a mix of funk, rock, pop and the occasional hip-hop beat and could therefore be considered as a worthy follow up.

There are a number of good tracks. The opener "Black And White America" is a slice of pure funk straight from the 70's. "Come And Get It" and "Rock Star City Life" are stomping funk rock tunes. "Boongie Drop" is Lenny's take on contemporary pop/R&B with a ragga influence, but it does kind of work and is pretty catchy featuring Jay-Z once again. It is followed by the lead single "Stand" which is a infectious pop rock tune. "Superlove" is a cool groovy track and "Everything" is another catchy pop tinged rock tune. "I Can't Be Without You" is a mid tempo rock ballad type track and "Looking Back On Love" is a nice suave mid tempo funk tune. "Dream" is a nice heartfelt piano led ballad and "Push" is another cool pop song with a great chorus. But the two best tracks come towards the end of the album. "Life Ain't Ever Been Better Than It Is Now" is a very addictive funky track with a great bass and "The Faith Of A Child" is probably the nicest ballad he has written with a lovely chorus and bridge section.

The tracks that are not as good are not that bad. "In The Black" is just a little too repetitive and "Liquid Jesus" is quite bland and simplistic. "Sunflower" is a little too mellow and ordinary to be memorable and unfortunately features Drake.

"Black And White America" is much more uplifting and less sombre than his previous release "It's Time For A Love Revolution". Funnily enough, the same difference can be made between the very dark "Circus" and "5" which followed each other too back in the 90's. Lenny Kravitz is in a good place musically at the moment and this release is yet again another solid affair.
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