Title - 'Mama Said (21st Anniversary Edition)' (EMI)
Artist - Lenny Kravitz
OK, let's be honest here ... Mama Said is what made Lenny Kravitz the star he is today! This whole album ranks as nothing less that stunning. And today, some 21 years on is has truly still stood the test of time. In truth, I wish Lenny would get back to the depth and soul of this album, for his recent work simply does not compare.
On this 21st Anniversary Edition 2-disc version of Mama Said, Kravitz fuses 60's/early 70's acoustic soul and rock like I've never heard anyone do before. An excellent voice, heartfelt lyrics and an acoustic edge too, makes this album much different than others that came after - or tried to copy thereafter!
With an album containing musical inspirational elements of Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix and Lenny's obsessions of Prince and John Lennon, the first track is a passive 'Fields Of Joy.' Basically just Kravitz and an acoustic ensemble (until the mid-section, of course), then comes the closest thing to a title track, 'Always On The Run' (aka "Mama Said") which rocks itself down to the bone. Then comes the ballad of 'Stand By My Woman Now,' which is followed by both the energetic 'It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over' and the church organ-inspired 'More Than Anything In This World.' The truthful passiveness of 'What Goes Around Comes Around' is next, complete with wonderful mid-section sax break, with the guitar of 'The Difference Is Why' and endless energy of 'Stop Draggin' Around' thereafter.
The sedate 'Flowers For Zoe' is followed by a psychedelic 'Fields Of Joy (Reprise),' before the calming effect of 'All I Ever Wanted,' 'When The Morning Turns To Night,' the ultra trippy 'What The **** Are We Saying?' and finishing off the original album, the two minute Kravitz-and-acoustic guitar 'Butterfly.'
The first disc continues on with studio b-sides, such as the funky, bouncy beat of 'Light Skin Girl From London,' 'I'll Be Around,' and 'Always On The Run (Instrumental).' Two unreleased 12"s of the same song finally round out this first disc, with 'It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over (12" remix instrumental)' and another 'It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over,' this time as a 12" extended/dub version.
The second disc kicks off with an acoustic rough demo of 'Riding On The Wings Of My Lord,' which is followed by a raw demo struck at home of 'It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over.' Another home demo comes in the form of 'What The **** Are We Saying?,' before another home demo of 'The Difference Is Why,' is followed by a different funky vocal on 'Riding On The Wings Of My Lord.'
A countdown leads us into the church organ-inspired instrumental of the very same song, before an instrumental version of 'Framed, Lying, Crying' is then followed by an instrumental version of 'Stand By Your Woman.'
But, in fairness to this 21st Anniverary Edition, the best inclusion of rare tracks are the next five live tracks recorded in Rotterdam in November of 1991: 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around,' a scorching 'Always On The Run' (complete with fantastic live horn section), 'Fields Of Joy,' ("There seems to be many losses in life, but none more so painful as the loss of a woman") 'Stand By Your Woman,' and 'More Than Anything In This World.'
The album closes out with different live tracks from bside cuts in Japan, with 'Always On The Run,' 'Stop Draggin' Around,' and a trippy 'What The **** Are We Saying?'