Lenny Kravitz: Mama Said (21st Anniversary Edition) [Deluxe Edition]

lenny kravitz, mama said,Lenny Kravitz: Mama Said (21st Anniversary Edition) [Deluxe Edition]
For people my age, Lenny Kravitz is best known for his string of hit late-90/Early-00 singles: “Fly Away,” “American Woman,” and “Dig In, the last of which was the last time Kravitz was commercially viable in the US. Peripherally, my generation knows of the early-90s success with “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” but Kravitz late-80s/early-90s hippy revival side, most exemplified by his debut single “Let Love Rule.” Kravitz’ second album, Mama Said was overlooked commercially; not producing any single as memorable as “Let Love Rule” or “Let Love Rule” which bookend it. However looking at the album 21 years later, through the glaze of the deluxe reissue, shows that Kravitz’ sophomore album may have been his best.
After his 1960s obsessed debut, Mama Said was the next logical step for Kravitz. Melding together his love of classic rock like the Beatles with his love of classic funk and soul like Curtis Mayfield and Sly and the Family Stone, Mama Said created something that felt both retro and ahead of its time.
Tracks like “Stand By My Woman” seem to be the bridge between John Lennon and soul singers like Otis Redding. Yet the track seems to, also, presuppose the neo-soul movement that would start a few years later with D’Angelo‘s “Brown Sugar.” The more commercially viable tracks like Slash-featuring “Always on the Run” may not have connected with audiences but foreshadow the success of “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”
As with all deluxe reissues, there is a bevy of additional material to the remastered original album. And like many deluxe reissues, I do not find the additional materials on Mama Said all that compelling. “Light Skin Girl from London” is probably the best of the non-album tracks. The blatant Beatles rip-off is fun and upbeat but does not necessarily give any additional insight into Kravitz’ writing during this period. Live version of tracks like “Fields of Joy,” certainly prove that Kravitz has Hendrix-esque virtuosity on the guitar but stand to be valuable listens to only die-hard fans.
Really the only thing of interest I found in the bonus material is the home demos. Like the demo of “What the Fuck Are We Saying?” finds Kravitz playing the track on an unplugged electric guitar and gently singing the profanity-laced chorus. He, then, scats the melody for the tracks iconic saxophone solo. Seeing how Kravitz’ songs start from such a small seed and develop into the large, lush production that they become on the album is interesting for those interested in music production, songwriting, and how songs develop.
In the end, the re-release of Mama Said proves to be a good decision if not to just let a new generation discover Kravitz. However, I am always left feeling like something called a “deluxe edition” should contain something more spectacular than they generally do. Kravitz’ Mama Said by itself would probably garner a higher rating but taking the entire package into account, it is nothing more than average.
Rating: 6.9/10
MP3: Lenny Kravitz “What the Fuck Are We Saying? (Home Demo)”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!