Tuesday, September 6, 2011
On Lindsey & Lenny
I've been listening to the new Lindsey Buckingham, "Seeds We Sow" and really loving it. My first thought about 6 songs in was, "No one makes records like this anymore." But after that thought, I realized that wasn't necessarily true. I guess there are still many artists who stick with what they know and just do it themselves, without paying any mind to changing or trying to stay current. "Seeds We Sow" could have easily been recorded during the fMac "Tusk" sessions of 1979 or the "Go Insane" sessions of the 80s. What I really meant by "No one makes records like this anymore" was "I love this record more than I like so many others."
Then, I thought of a discussion I had with a friend about Lenny Kravitz. I'm not a Lenny hater. I enjoy his records. But my friend is an ardent fan, and didn't take kindly to my comment that I think Lenny makes decent records but is a terrible songwriter. What he hated more was when I said, "He keeps making the same record."
He came back with, "You can say that about every artist, so why do critics hate Lenny but not say, the Red Hot Chili Peppers?"
He could have said anyone, I think. I just said it (kind of) about Lindsey Buckingham. I then sent him this, part of a review of the new Lenny Kravitz in the new Mojo:
"Perhaps Lenny might be more lovable if he didn't sound so damn smug whe imbuing his Curtis Mayfield-pastiches with cracker barrel sapience. No one expects a fabulously wealthy, devilishly handsome, 35-million-album-selling artist to have the blues exactly, but the vainglorious self-righteousness displayed, can be hard for mere mortals to swallow."
My friend thought Mojo got personal. Maybe he's right.
Lenny Kravitz and Lindsey Buckingham have both been around the block. Neither has strayed far from their sound from album to album. And I don't think Lindsey's so much deeper lyrically than Lenny. And wasn't Lenny Kravitz' debut "Let Love Rule" a five-star record upon its release in 1987? It's not as if L.K. followed it with a twee folk record? So what makes the occasionally arrogant and aloof Lindsey Buckingham a critic's darling and the occasionally arrogant and aloof Lenny Kravitz a critic's punching bag? It can't just be retro-rock & soul versus L.A. pop rock?
Why does "Seeds We Sow" sound so amazing to me and "Black & White America" bore me to tears? Both are records by artists doing what they do best, sticking with formulas that made them huge stars.
Why is no one saying "Seeds We Sow" sounds like the last 4 Lindsey Buckingham records?
My friend may have a point.