LP Review: Lenny Kravitz, “Strut” – How’d I Miss This Sexy Album?

Strut,_cover_by_Lenny_Kravitz

One of the funnest parts of being married to The Rock Chick is all the great music she has brought to me over the years. I must admit that I never know what new project she’ll be undertaking when I walk in the door. My life is full of surprises. Sometimes I find her spontaneously painting the spare bedroom. Sometimes I find her in the midst of a colossal baking project, which is the best kind of project to walk in on if you ask me. The other day I walked in to find her drinking a glass of prosecco and watching the excellent Lenny Kravitz documentary, “Just Let Go.” Over the sexy beats and rocking guitar I couldn’t help but think, hmmm where is this going to go…

“Just Let Go” which features concert performances from Paris and interviews with Lenny and his superb backing band is a great rockumentary. Lenny tells a great story about touring with Robert Plant as his opening act. I’m not sure how in this universe that could happen but apparently Plant actually opened for Lenny. Plant barged into Lenny’s dressing room at the end of a show and read him the riot act for being a control freak. Lenny decided he needed to “just let go” and enjoy the ride. Lenny’s band is truly diverse: men/women, black/white, it’s a fantastic blend of talented musicians. His drummer, Cindy Blackman, is the coolest drummer in the world. They remind me of a latter day Sly and the Family Stone, only with better music or at the very least music I like better.

Ah, Lenny Kravitz. I can’t remember how many futons I woke up on in the 90s with my temporary hostess playing Lenny Kravitz… “Let Love Rule” was always the morning jam of choice with it’s groovy hippy themes. Maybe I was just drawn to groovy hippy chicks. But, inevitably I got on the Kravitz bandwagon, claims of his music being derivative be damned.  “Are You Gonna Go My Way” was his artistic high point and I played the crap out of that album. I even liked the dark, rocking follow up LP “Circus” which was much maligned by the critics. But around the time of “5” Lenny lost me. I figured he’d fade into obscurity. He started acting and I just lost track of him. When I get into an artist I’m typically a catalog type of fan – meaning I buy the artist’s entire catalog. I usually don’t lose track of artists I like. But I totally lost track of Lenny. So it’s always a delightful treat when I stumble across a new album, later in the career of an artist I liked. It’s like getting an email from an old friend you haven’t seen in a while. And that is exactly the case with 2014’s “Strut” from Lenny Kravitz.

I’m not sure how I missed it (I blame shitty terrestrial radio), but “Strut” is a really strong album despite the Rock Chick saying “it has a few too many ballads for my taste…” But that’s typically her response on any album with more than one ballad… I mean, she is the Rock Chick. “Strut” is all riffing guitars, over sexy drums and on many of the songs, horns. This is a party album, an album to, as we used to say, “get down” to. “The Chamber” rides a slinky beat and great riff and happens to be the Rock Chick’s new “jam” whatever that means. “New York City” is another high point and a great ode to a great city. “Sex,” “Dirty Boots,” and “Strut” are all upbeat funky rock songs that set the tone for the record. “I’m A Believer” with its dirty guitar, hand claps and sing along backing vocals is almost a funky punk song. From now on I’m playing Lenny’s “Happy Birthday” instead of the Beatles’ “Birthday” on my birthday. It’s just a great song on a great album.

Of the ballads, my favorite is “She’s a Beast” with strummed acoustic guitars. You can almost imagine musicians sitting around in a circle in an apartment writing that one. “The Pleasure and the Pain” is another stand out ballad. I even like the tune entitled “Frankenstein.” The only tune that loses me is a Smokey Robinson cover, “Oo Baby Baby.” You have to be careful if you’re going to cover Smokey… I mean, Smokey’s voice is like an angel singing…

Needless to say, this LP gets a “must have” vote from BourbonAndVinyl. It’s a fun listen and a great return to form from a an artist I thought was done. His career may have been a little up and down, but whose hasn’t. Lenny and his band have really come together on an album only he could put together – it’s as diverse as the members of his band.

Pour something strong, put this LP on, take your shirt off and dance around… and don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Cheers!

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