Lenny Kravitz – Mama Said (1991): Review

kravitz

Produced by Lenny Kravitz
Label – Virgin

Kravitz’s music is steeped in early 70s rock, and this is brutally evident on his sophomore release “Mama Said” from 1991. Taking a step forward from the minimalist Beatlesque psychedelia of his debut two years previously, “Mama Said” has a more rounded sound, and the album is certainly an effort towards mainstream acceptance. Ultimately, the collection fails to reach the heights that he would hope to achieve, based on the fact that the homage to the likes of Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Hendrix are far too transparent, and at times the quality of the material just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Since the CD revolution, I have always wondered why artists feel the necessity to fill the format with filler. Why not 40 minutes, and 10 songs of decent quality, rather than 55 minutes and 14 songs, some of which would have never made it to vinyl. 15 minutes of material could have been cut from this album, and it would have sounded better for it.

kravitz1

Guns N’ Roses axeman Slash joins Kravitz to beef up the sound, and it certainly works well on the two best songs from the album. The opener “Fields Of Joy” introduces a familiar “Strawberry Fields” sounding ballad which builds and develops into a great rock song with a superb instrumental break from Slash. This is followed by “Always On The Run”, which could have come from any late 60’s Led Zep recording, and in terms of potency and skilful funk/rock crossover, is by far the best song on the album. The Lennonesque ballad “Stand By My Woman” and the “Story Of My Break Up With Lisa Bonet” soul number, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over” both work well. After four songs though, the quality starts to suffer, and the listener is inflicted with poor dirge ballads (“More Than Anything In This World”, “Flowers For Zoe”), messy cod jazz (“What Goes Around Comes Around”), and listless rock workouts (“Stop Draggin’ Around”). Kravitz manages to redress the balance just as you may be thinking of switching off, and “All I Ever Wanted” is a great manic love ballad again describing the desperate public split with Lisa Bonet. Kravitz just saves the day.

“Mama Said” is occasionally great, but runs out of steam far too often.

6/10

Track Listing
1.”Fields of Joy”
2.”Always on the Run”
3.”Stand by My Woman”
4.”It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over”
5.”More Than Anything in This World”
6.”What Goes Around Comes Around”
7.”The Difference Is Why”
8.”Stop Draggin’ Around”
9.”Flowers for Zoë”
10.”Fields of Joy (Reprise)”
11.”All I Ever Wanted”
12.”When the Morning Turns to Night”
13.”What the Fuck Are We Saying?”
14.”Butterfly”

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