I promised myself when I started this article that I would make it a point to review bad albums as well as good ones. Well, it appears that the opportunity has come a lot sooner than I had expected. September 1989 saw the release of the debut album by Lenny Kravitz: Let Love Rule…and thus, a mediocre singer/songwriter/perfomer began his ascent to stardom.
I will begin this by stating that I am well aware of his sexual appeal to the ladies, and I’m pretty certain this, and not his music, factored strongly into his eventual rise to being a major icon in the pop music world.
I am sitting in my chair listening to album and wondering where he would be if it weren’t for the backing musicians he hired to play horns and keys on the album. Lenny’s vocals constantly crack and go out of range. I give him credit, at least he was trying, but I’ve heard better attempts during karaoke nights. The guy definitely sounds better when he’s singing within his actual baritone range.
There are some good points to the record: when it’s not redundantly overbearing, the music’s funk thump has a solid feel. Some of the lyrics are pretty, if amateurish; on “Fear”, the words actually are somewhat inspired. (Ironically, these lyrics were written by his then-wife, Lisa Bonét.) The string arrangement on “I Built This Garden For Us”, if somewhat predictable, gives a nice roll to the rest of the otherwise-boring tune. However, he’s soon back to his habit here of obvious lifting of tunes and ideas from his influences. then we get to “Rosemary”, which sounds like a blatant style rip-off of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, except for its outright insistence of its protagonist to accept Jesus into her life. even God would be rolling in his grave, if He has one.
The album maintains a slow, plodding pace throughout almost the entire album, with the exception of the pedantic “Mr. Cabdriver”, which shows a very childlike persona of Kravitz and his work, and the closing two, “Empty Hands”, which sounds like a second-rate 1960’s flower-power band, and the finale, “Flower Child”, which almost sounds like the music was stolen from E.L.O.’s “Don’t Bring Me Down”. Finally, the album is over! I can go back to listening to something which I enjoy.
OVERALL ON THIS RELEASE: I give it 4.5 out of a possible ten. For an artist who was purported to be the revival of African-American rock & roll, this guy certainly was overhyped. It has one or two good moments, but they are too few and far between. I would NEVER buy this album, EVER. Now excuse me while I cleanse my ears at a karaoke bar…