Lenny Kravitz: Mama Said: Retropy

Lenny Kravitz - Mama Said - Retro
I forgot to say:
  • the kids who came of age with the internet are probably better at defining music in terms of genre-specifics than in musical-cultural terms. Like we were teens playing the reference game; pretending to be smart like the critics whose reviews we read very closely, back then (Curtis... Curtis Who?). Or is that simply the culture of music now - finer and more arbitrary definitions and gradations of sub- and sub-sub-genres and crossovers. Damon Albarn thinks so.
  • Lenny pre-empted with perfect timing the onset of baby boomer cap N Nostalgia for the classic Rock Sound. And hence helps show up the bankruptcy (creative-sustainability and evolution-wise) of the nostalgia industry - in a setting William Gibson calls the infinite digital Now - where the artefacts of the past are the nurtured, revived & reassuring icons of truth & certainty in a (perceived) uncertain & changing world. Ahem. Or teenage rock memories forever.
  • But notice: "Retro" is everywhere now: cameras, kitchen appliances, motorcycles, glasses, watches... anything collectable, curatable via Ebay, the web... like typewriters. Dialled in like automatic authenticity.


  1. "Mama Said" is a great album. I recall reading that Kravitz used analog equipment only to record that and (the brilliant) "Let Love Rule" and the equipment wasn't in the best condition to begin with and kept overheating and catching on fire.

    As for retro, well it's only retro if you weren't into it the first time it was around. I only get bugged when hipsters latch onto something, like vintage wristwatches or cameras, because they think these items are kitsch and they don't take into account the build/design intricacy and durability of these things in this throwaway age.

  2. I'm with Mr T.

    I heard some of the tracks from this album while I was on my way from Melbourne to Whyalla one year. When I stepped off the bus, I immediately headed straight for the record shop in the middle of town and bought the CD.

    What I agree with was that it was retro if you didn't like it the first time around.

    But in a way... it isn't the stuff from first time around. It was a pooling of that era of rock. A nostalgic look back over our collective shoulders. But it was an accessible look for a new audience. SO yeah, to that end Lenny really is something of a gateway into 'retro'.

  3. Anonymous2:59 pm

    Yes to Curtis Mayfield! Good music never goes out of fashion.

  4. cheers folks. Yes, the equipment Lenny uses is always 100% analogue and yes "vintage". Valve amplifiers, original era microphones, vintage instruments. He even used one of the original 4 track mixing desks used by the Beatles in Abbey road.

    So kitsch is close to shtick (it's the reverse, really - boom) is close to nostalgia-retro-rock ... is basically a null exercise in the end. A closed loop, philosophically. Regressive. SOngs are good, but the sound-style-gesture is doomed to closure.

    Actually, I remember at the gig, every (vintage) Marshall amp had a vintage (50s) style mic placed over it. Lenny had a real 60s Flying V. Everything looked authentic. But, playing as he did at the Entertainment Centre, with the house PA, it all sounded shit. The bass wasn't even there. So all the difference vintage might've made was totally wasted.



Nice comments are welcome!