Musician (10/95, pp.80-81) - "...another batch of irresistable tunes. The sound's more raw than anything he's done since LET LOVE RULE....CIRCUS is yet another demonstration of a classic equation: blistering rock guitar plus bruising funk rhythms equals excitement..."
NME (Magazine) (9/9/95, p.50) - 7 (out of 10) - "...Kravitz proves himself to be just as much a purveyor of record collection rock as he's ever been. But what most people fail to notice is that Len has got stone-cold impeccable taste....he is...a silver-suited messenger from a celestial Rock Circus, a one man multi-coloured pop shop..."
Personnel includes: Lenny Kravitz (vocals, electric guitar, Mini-Moog, drums); Craig Ross (acoustic & electric guitar, mandolin); Henry Hirsch (Mellotron, Wurlitzer electric piano, bass); Tony Breit (bass).
Recorded at Waterfront Studios, New Jersey; Chateau Des Conde, France; Compass Point Studios, Bahamas.
"Rock And Roll Is Dead" was nominated for a 1996 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
With CIRCUS, Lenny Kravitz is four albums into a career of reinventing rock's best pieces, and flying further with them. CIRCUS is no change from this format, but proves why he's so successful at it.
"Rock And Roll Is Dead" snubs alternative rock and rap acts who "can't even sing or play an instrument," while Kravitz plays guitar, bass and drums with confidence and a well-learned sense of groove. His gift for molding AOR idioms into new forms jumps on the John Bonham wagon for the heavy wallop of "Beyond The 7th Sky"; his Hendrix-ian wah-wah mixes perfectly with some Sly Stone bump-and-grind on "Tunnel Vision"; and the Beatlesque guitar on "Can't Get You Off My Mind" proves that mimicry just may be the sincerest form of flattery. There is even a hint of Stevie Wonder on "God Is Love." And though you may spot the references as if they were highlighted on a map, CIRCUS pulls it off with precision and inspiration.
The flower-power and funk melodies throughout CIRCUS stir together a different era of sounds and effects for a '90s audience. They make Kravitz's appreciation for rock's foundation down-right contagious.
After the fuzz-rock revivalism of Are You Gonna Go My Way, Lenny Kravitz seems to have settled into a comfortable groove, alternating between early-'70s album rock and early-'70s soul, with the occasional Prince flourish thrown in for good measure. Circus is the weakest of Kravitz's albums, simply because he didn't change his style in a distinctive manner, replicating the sound of Are You Gonna Go My Way instead. To compound his problems, Kravitz kicks off the record with "Rock and Roll Is Dead," a workmanlike rewrite of "Are You Gonna Go My Way" that lacks hooks. However, after one more half-hearted rocker, Circus begins to open up, as Kravitz turns in a series of ballads and lightly psychedelic mid-tempo pop numbers, which prove to be his real strength. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine