Review Revue: Lenny Kravitz - Mama Said

Review Revue
Levi Fuller

Today's post doesn't have much to do with Thanksgiving, but for all of you hanging out with your mamas today, I hope you listen to what they have to say.

This might be the most surprising roundup of reviews I've encountered in my years doing this blog series. I haven't listened to this album in ages, but in the early '90s, Lenny Kravitz was one of those incredibly popular artists whose music seemed to be everywhere; I was initially surprised to find this album in the library, never mind to see such gushing reviews. On further research, the follow-up to this album, Are You Gonna Go My Way, was likely the one that pushed Kravitz into "white-dot" territory. AYGGMW was his first Billboard top 20 album and the record that propelled him into such things as opening for the Rolling Stones on their Voodoo Lounge tour in 1994 (which I attended at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts).

Mama Said was certainly a successful major label release, but it just barely broke the top 40, so perhaps that let it squeak into rotation at this scrappy college station. Whatever the reason, there was very little dissent among the overwhelmingly positive reviews here. Things change, though; it turns out Mr. Kravitz has a new album out this year, which I only just learned as I was working on this piece. Strut doesn't seem to have made it into rotation or been added to the "top albums of 2014" ballot here. I wonder if any of these guys would want to write it in?

"Todd pretty much said it all on the EP & I agree w/every word. A great LP! Despite an even more outlandish image than ever before (which is sure to turn some people off), & despite the fact that he 'hangs' with Slash, Madonna, & Sean Lennon (which is sure to turn some other people off), & despite the fact that his influences are as transparent as ever (which...) – I love this record!!! Try 1-1, 1-6, 1-7, 2-1, 2-3, & – especially 2-4. Better by far than his debut, & his voices is more awe-inspiring than ever."

"While this is a very well sung + performed album, I find it not very distinctive music. The sound is quite derivative."

"So is all great rock & roll??"

"Yeah, Neil. Of course this is derivative – I think that's the point. This is a finely crafted amalgam of everything from Curtis Mayfield to Elvis Costello – but it's quite reverent and respectful, and above all really fucking good. I love this album. P.S. Thanks for finally getting this into rotation, Kathy."

"Yum. Yum. I don't care if [he] looks like a sad icon from an overrated decade, this is hot, and cool, and funky. His voice ranks w/George Clinton + James Brown, I swear. Wow."

"Hey! Play the edit of 2-6 from the CD library."

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