Lenny Kravitz is a polarizing figure in rock music…
[Rating: 4.5 stars]
Lenny Kravitz is a polarizing figure in rock music-a seemingly prefabricated cocktail of Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and classic rock radio, a peace-loving hippie who readily embraced pop stardom. Before “American Woman” was played on the radio 4 billion times, Kravitz was the upstart musician behind Let Love Rule, his self-produced 1989 debut on which he plays nearly every instrument himself, and quite funkily. The hit here is “Let Love Rule,” but virtually every song is a classic, from the acoustic singalong of “Rosemary” to the funk ecstasy of “Freedom Train.” Kravitz’s gritty voice oozes soul on the plaintive “Be” and the slow-dripping ballad “My Precious Love.” “I Built This Garden For Us” is a Beatles-y epic that offers plenty of Kravitz’s trademark, shredded-vocal ad libs (“Doo doo yeah!”) The reissue comes with spin-worthy demos (the acoustic “Mr. Cab Driver” is bluesy treat), some incendiary live performances, and a frantic reading of John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey.” They’re all a testament to how much talent young Lenny possessed beneath his dreaded main. All Kravitz ever wanted to do was make good music and pay homage to the greats who inspired him; he did his heroes proud on this one.