At the end of the 1980s, Lenny Kravitz was a hippie-like appearance who achieved both unexpected and rapid success with his interpretation of 1960s music. Kravitz has often made stylistic changes during his career that make him a versatile pop singer. Ten colorful songs from Lenny Kravitz.
10. Believe in Me
“Believe in Me” was the third single from the album Lenny (2001). It is a ballad that is characterized by a very special production. Kravitz played all the music on the album himself and was in charge of the production. On ‘Believe in Me’ this results in a unique rhythm, made up of computer drums, finger clippings and mouth sounds that seem to be influenced by the hip-hop techniques of Missy Elliot and Timbaland.
9. Rock and Roll is Dead
After a few seconds you as a listener can conclude that Kravitz is playing a joke with the title because it is probably the most rugged rock song of his career. Classic guitar riffs in the style of Led Zeppelin give the song unprecedented power. That same year (1995) Prince would release a teasing response with the title “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive (And It Lives in Minneapolis)”.
8. Fly Away
Kravitz has always been a fan of old-fashioned productions, using authentic equipment from the sixties and seventies. Yet for the album 5 (1998) he decided to try out a modern sound. A good move because, as single “Fly Away” proves, the music gets a certain freshness and sharpness. Of course it helps that “Fly Away” has a fine, chorus that, once heard, is hard to forget.
7. Mr Cab Driver
“Mr. Cab Driver ’is one of the striking songs on the debut album Let Love Rule. The influence of Jimi Hendrix is clearly audible here thanks to a disturbed guitar riff. The song is about racism and Kravitz wrote it after a taxi driver refused him a ride because of his skin color. Kravitz cleverly does not turn it into a melancholy indictment but keeps it light with an up-tempo rhythm.
6. I’ll Be Waiting
Kravitz is a master of the love song about a broken relationship in which he still longs for the other. “I’ll Be Waiting” (2007) is a successful variant in the form of a power ballad. It would grow into one of his biggest hits. As usual, Kravitz produced the song itself, supplementing the beautiful structure with dramatic string instruments.
5. I Built This Garden For Us
One of the most beautiful songs from the debut Let Love Rule (1989) is a psychedelic love song with unexpected gospel influences. ‘I Built This Garden For Us’ is driven by a disturbed guitar riff while the organ and cello provide nice details. The long song is completed with a dragging guitar solo.
4. Always on the Run
With the exception of a single cover version, Kravitz prefers to write his own songs. “Always on the Run” is an exception. The basis of the song was written by Guns’ n Roses guitarist Slash. As the drummer of the band struggled with it, Slash saved it for a collaboration with Kravitz. Together they made one of his biggest hits. Slash plays the guitar in a characteristic way and as a result the first single from the second album Mama Said (1991) immediately gets a stronger sound than they were used to . With the moody black-and-white video, Kravitz would make a breakthrough on MTV and pave the way to superstar dom.
3. It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
Immediately after “Always on the Run” Kravitz would come up with another surprising song. The second single from Mama Said turned out to be a genuine soul ballad in the tradition of Motown. Kravitz managed to catch the Phenix Horns from Earth, Wind & Fire (and later Phil Collins) for the blowing arrangements. They perfectly complement the seventies atmosphere that Kravitz is trying to evoke. “It Ain” Over “Lift It Over” is the first of a series of ballads about relationships that have ended. It is probably his most experienced ballad since his relationship with actress Lisa Bonnet (known from The Cosby Show) had ended earlier. In America, the number would reach second place in the hit parade.
2. Are You Gonna Go My Way
Lenny Kravitz third album from 1993 was ushered in triumph with a single of the same name. The sound is solid, with Kravitz reaffirming his fascination with Hendrix. “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is often sung by other artists, including Metallica, Robbie Williams and Tom Jones. The energy and the rhythm make it a real car number, which led the makers of the racing game Grand Turismo 3 to use it as a title song in a remix.
1. Let Love Rule
Lenny Kravitz debut single by the then completely unknown artist struck like a bomb. In the Netherlands he was introduced by the VPRO as a street musician on the Museumplein in the music program Onrust! The acoustic version of ‘Let Love Rule’ impressed countless viewers and his first concert in Paradiso was sold out in no time. Musically, like the message about the power of love, “Let Love Rule” was clearly inspired by the sixties. Yet Kravitz managed to give his influences his own voice to these influences. The dragging song is brought to a beautiful climax by saxophonist Karl Denson.