Lenny Always Stands By His Influences
Andre S. Grindle | Brewer Maine | 10/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lenny Kravitz:flower child throwback who,like Prince and Terence Trent D'Arby before him used the bi racial/multi instrumentalist/eclectic style to his best advantage.What does Lenny Krzvitz have that's different from those two artists?Simple-his sound is unapologetically retro.Unlike other retro artists though Lenny even copies the production style,right down to the analog tapes he swears by.That being said 'Mama Said',although recorded in 1991 at the peak of the new jack and grunge revolutions might as well have been recorded in 1973 because there are no synthesizers or heavy electronics on this album-it's ALL live instrumentation.And while very imatative of his influences-namely John Lennon,Curtis Mayfield,Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone those are the best influences to have and he makes their own sounds even better!Much of the CD has the feel of an epic album lengh excursion."Fields Of Joy","The Difference Is Why" and "When The Morning Turns To Night" all have superb arrangements and,uncharacteristically for Kravitz do blend his influences into a cohesive whole,althought still a highly retro neo psychedelic one."Always On The Run" is a slashing funk jam right out of the Sly/Funkadelic school of psychelic funk with punchy horns and Lenny's rowdy singing.Two of the best songs are very Lennon inspired-"Stand By Your Woman" and "All I Ever Wanted",the latter of which actually features Sean Lennon as a guest writer and lyricist.On Lenny's voice however the Lennon-style vocal reverb sounds a lot heavier.Of course one of the two most impressive songs here is the big hit "It Ain't Over Til It's Over",a classic Philly/Chicago soul type ballad with a nice midtempo beat.Lenny's falsetto is beautiful,the arrangement is in the pocket and you can even dance to it-I think it's my favorite Kravitz song.The other is another kind of soul-a very Curtis Mayfield sounding "What Goes Around Comes Around"-I have to give Lenny credit for his DEAD ON Mayfield vocal impression,that is until Karl Denson goes WILD on the sax and the whole songs turns into a totally free jazz extravaganza."Flowers For Zoe" is another song here that's great-a very folksy soul kind of feal with a nice gentle vocal.Overall 'Mama Said' is enough to give Kravitz detractors (and there are an awful lot) a sense that given the proper musical balance Kravitz would be able to synthesize all of his many musical ideas and shadings into something cohesive and distinctly his.But that hardly matters since it seems,especially if an artist is not caucasion (and even if they are) that they will immediately be accused of ripping off or too heavily borrowing from their influences and since this style seems to be such a big part of who Lenny Kravitz is he takes even more flack for it then many.But 'Mama Said' actually does a lot to bring out the many talents and amazing songwriting of Kravitz and gives probably the best impression of him available."
K. Dold | Chicago, Illinois | 03/07/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is what made Lenny the star he is. I continue to rank this album as nothing but great, it has stood the test of time. I wish Lenny would get back to the depth and soul of this album, his recent work simply does not compare."