3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lenny's finest moment,
This review is from: Mama Said 21st Anniversary Special Edition (Audio CD)
To say that Lenny Kravitz polarizes opinions would be understating the fact that people either find him a pretentious, aging rocker more concerned with posing than with crafting good songs, or find him one of the shining lights in vintage-inspired rock, with his bloodhound-like ability to seek out a great, retro-sounding groove and a sense of individuality that keeps his at-times derivative music from becoming simply a sonic photocopy of his Motown, funk and 70's rock influences. I place myself firmly in the latter camp, and believe that although his 1995 album 'Are You Going to Go My Way?' was his true commercial breakthrough, and the release that finally started to turn the tide of critics towards him, 'Mama Said' is arguably his most emotionally sincere album. It is more cohesive and flows better than any of his albums before and since, and there is a certain authentic emotional vibe that filters through the whole album that I simply haven't felt while listening to his later albums.
An album penned while Lenny's marriage to Lisa Bonet was at its ending stages, there is no doubting the emotional sincerity that the fourteen songs on this album have. Because Lenny Kravitz's music, in the lack of technical virtuosity, depends heavily on both groove and emotion to convince the listener, I believe that all the (separate) feelings that he had been grappling with in both 'Mama Said' as well as 'Circus' (his next album) have crafted both of these albums to become the most emotionally sincere albums that he had written - the awkward lyrics and slight pretentiousness that detractors from his music use to criticize are, in my opinion, overridden by the authenticity of emotional output in this album. 'Mama Said' was dedicated to Bonet and the particular songs that were written directly to her - 'It Ain't Over Till It's Over', 'More than Anything in this World', 'When the Morning turns to Night' and 'The Difference is Why' - are the best cuts from this album.
The remastered versions of these songs accentuate the analogue warmth that was already present in the original pressing. In particular, the vocal-prominent songs really benefit from these remasters: 'Flowers for Zoe' is a particular highlight and the guitar-driven one-two of 'Fields of Joy' followed by 'Always on the Run' sound fresher and more urgent: if I had to nitpick I would say that on those two songs where Slash (of Guns n' Roses fame) guests his solo tone is slightly shrill but this is but my own individual preference. The extras on CD 1 and 2 are insightful for the Kravitz fan, but unnecessary for someone who isn't one. That being said, the home demos of 'What the ... are We Saying' and 'It Ain't Over Till its Over' are fascinating to listen to (the stripped down, piano/vocal version of the latter is actually quite beautiful - and I would love to hear it recorded properly in that format). The gospel-sounding instrumental version of 'Stand by my Woman' reflects an even stronger Beatles/John Lennon influence than the final cut. However, not all the extras are of the same quality (including two songs cut from the album 'Light skin girl from London' and 'I'll be Around': they are not on the same level that the 14 songs that made it are), and the less said about the dub versions of 'It Ain't Over Till its Over' the better...they're awfully dated and quite horrific to listen to!
Overall, I would say that those who have not listened to this album should do so as regardless of your own personal opinions on Lenny Kravitz the fact remains that this is a really good, emotionally-driven album that many would appreciate - Kravitz fans will find the second CD fascinating, and the live performances to be found of the album's songs on CD2 shows just how dynamic of a performer he was back in the early 90's.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Aug 2012 08:23:33 BDT
K. Bishop says:
This is an excellent review
Posted on 8 Aug 2012 18:32:37 BDT
Jasper Wong says:
Thanks for the kind words :)
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