Produced by Lenny Kravitz
Label – Virgin
If any musical historian were looking for the roots and similarities behind Lenny Kravitz’ debut long player “Let Love Rule”, then it’s probable that Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon and Sly & The Family Stone conjoin to form the strictly retro sound the artist strived for. Indeed, this mainly self written, performed and produced record wouldn’t have sounded out of place were it released 20 years previously. Deliberately recorded using analogue equipment, the singer/songwriter’s first recording is admirable in its level of providing a vibe that perfectly reflects all the hallmarks of classic rock albums from the past; however, as with all of his releases there is a glaring lack of consistency, and lyrically, he flounders with clumsy sloganeering and rhymes that radical pre teen bedroom poets would probably discard. On “Mr Cab Driver” he labors the listener with unflattering and unconvincing couplets about the racist protagonist with excruciating ham fisted lines that open with ” Mr Cab Driver won’t you stop to let me in, Mr Cab Driver don’t like my kind of skin, Mr Cab Driver you’re never gonna win”.
For all his penmanship shortcomings, Kravitz still provides some powerful individual moments. The title track for example (“Let Love Rule”), highlights the effective use of multi-tracking his vocal and these increasing harmonies allied with Karl Denson’s saxophone solo build to a wonderful crescendo. The Beatle-esque melody of “I Build This Garden For Us”, the Plastic Ono Band styled ballad with a warm horn arrangement for “My Precious Love”, and the ode to a lost soul for the sing-a-long “Rosemary” are all songs that complement his honesty to the classic themes he was obviously aiming to achieve. Arguments from some that his sound is plainly derivative may be true, but then one could counter that by stating that all modern music is influenced by the past to some extent. It’s just that Lenny doesn’t feel the need to deny that his conception and ambition is directed by music from a different era. “Let Love Rule” is classic rock, but unfortunately it’s no classic album.
Although flawed in lyrical mediocrity, on “Let Love Rule” Kravitz never apologizes for the entrenched early 70s direction he uses to create this, and subsequent recordings. In his words, “Nine out of ten groups that came out in 1989 are gone. I’m still here”.