TITLE: Emergency on Planet Earth
YEAR RELEASED: 1993
CHART ACTION: #1 UK
SINGLES: When You Gonna Learn (#28 UK), Too Young to Die (#10 UK), Blow Your Mind (#12 UK), Emergency on Planet Earth (#4 US Dance, #32 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: This album didn’t airplay or notice in US at the time.
LINEUP: Jay Kay, Toby Smith, Gavin Dodds, Stuart Zender, Nick Van Gelder, Maurizio Ravalco and a bunch of other players
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK band goes back to the funk and soul of the 70’s with some jazzy elements, some 90’s turntable work, and a didgeridoo (!) for good measure. It’s a joyous funky celebration – derivative yes – but funky nonetheless.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Funky bass lines, wah-wah, authentic sounding funk keyboards, and a vocalist that doesn’t strain to hit the high notes. Jamiroquai’s first record is definitely a celebration of 70’s funk. The hits are definitely infectious, and while not as gritty as P-Funk or the Ohio Players, definitely could fit into the mid-to-late 70’s funk genre.
There are touches of jazz here as well, as well as some modern hip hop. What doesn’t always work for me are the instrumentals or the extended vamps with just the instrumental bed. To my ears, the magic happens with the melodies and the voice of Kay blending with the funk. The instrumentals are nice, but aren’t as compelling as the complete package, and they tended to go on a bit long.
The lyrical content is mostly about the environmental issues (hence the name). That wasn’t what I expected, really.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their Buffalo Man logo was originally sketched by Kay.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, there’s a bonus disc for the re-issue.
GRADE: A-: A great appropriation of an old sound. Just maybe trim down a couple of cuts, especially the areas without vocals.