Sunday, June 10, 2012
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: LENNY KRAVITZ - MAMA SAID DELUXE EDITION
Of course, he wore his influences on his sleeve, but there were so many of them, it boiled down to his own style. Certainly Prince must have raised an eyebrow, with all the frilly scarves on display, as well as the lead guitar heroics. But Kravitz took just as much from The Beatles, Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, etc., etc. It became a knock against him, but still he was a master at mixing it all up, plus a great singer and producer. Really the only problem here was a couple of mediocre tracks along the way, but this was in the day when 14 cuts was the norm, musicians being required to fill up all that space on the CD. He made more fans on radio than in the review columns though, and never was a critical favourite, although he had the numbers and profits to ignore that.
For the (ahem..) 21st Anniversary Edition (I guess they didn't have it ready for last year), there's a bundle of new stuff. Three B-sides are included, which probably weren't widely owned, given the limited sales of CD singles then. All are good, a couple even better than some album tracks, and I liked hearing the instrumental of Always On The Run, which gives you a better feel for his studio prowess. Likewise the two 12" single mixes of It Ain't Over, although at eight minutes, the extended version outlives its welcome. Disc Two starts with a bunch of demos, both at home in the studio, including a couple of unfinished numbers, but they don't add much to set, as they are undeveloped, Kravitz tunes better consumed once all the parts are added. In other words, his songs are more about the riffs than the lyrics and melodies, but that's okay. A better time is had with the rest of the disc, as it visits two different live concerts at the time. He had a crack band, and obviously the guy's a dynamic performer. He had the fans locked in by then, with lots of audience singing.
I've never been a huge Kravitzer, but I'll give him his due; the hits hold up, it's timeless, quality rock, well-made, just not that deep.