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Birth Of Lenny White's Band,
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This review is from: Best of Friends (Audio CD)
It was abundantly apparent on Lenny White's 1978 album Streamline that he was moving away from spastic fusion and into a much more glossy,polished late 70's pop-funk sound. That album had a lot more stylistic diversity among it's songs but with this one that isn't as apparent. Lenny White took in old personel such as Don Blackman and Denzil Miller,added new members and actually transformed his backing musicians into a full on band. Again produced by Larry Dun EWF Phenix Horn members Louis Satterfield,Don Myrick and Andrew Wolfolk are onboard for the ride as well as percussionist Paulinhi Da Costa and backup vocals by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Lynn Davis. With all of these cooks in the kitchen as it were this sould be a very cluttered and overproduced sounding album. Actually it's the exact opposit. Perhaps as something of a reaction to some of the orchestrated excessess of commercial disco songs such as "City Dancin" (very EWF sounding in it's horn arrangement actually),"Take Me Or Leave Me" and the title song are all highly danceable funk/pop/R&B with the tiniest degree of fusion accents on the keyboard parts in particular. These and all of the tracks on this album feature vocals,mostly from the now full time band member Don Blackman. Meanwhile the most famous song from this album actually looks totally to the future. The stripped down,highly digitized electronic synthesizer riffs mixed with multi tracked rhythm guitars on "Peanut Butter" is not only very much new territory for Lenny White's variety of funk but also fully anticipated the types of music that would come from people such as Cameo,Midnight Star,Prince and the majority of the electro/naked funk of the 80's decade to come. "Betta" is a uniquely juxtaposed song musically as it mixes the albums general pop-funk flavor with prog rock/fusion style power chords on the keyboard parts. "Morning Sunrise" and "Oh Sylvie" are the two slower,or midtempo tunes here and both feature warm and just mildly sentimental lyrics. The album ends with the spirited Brazillian pop-jazz/funk of "Tropical Nights". Each of Twennynine's three albums together had a very distinctly different musical flavor and got progressively more electronics oriented as they went along. In terms of where the band links to the latter leg of Lenny White's 70's solo career this is about as enjoyable and important an album as one could imagine.