Category: Jamiroquai

Jamiroquai – Return of the Space Cowboy

ARTIST: Jamiroquai  220px-The_Return_of_the_Space_Cowboy

TITLE: The Return of the Space Cowboy

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #2 UK

SINGLES: Space Cowboy (#1 Dance, #17 UK), Half the Man (#15 UK), Stillness In Time (#9 UK), Light Years (#6 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubt it

LINEUP: Jay Kay, Derrick McKenzie, Wallis Buchanan, Toby Smith, Stuart Zender, Gary Barnacle, Richard Edwards

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Socially conscious funky disco band concentrates on the groove and the lyrics, and it mostly succeeds (except in the US marketplace)

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Still a sensation in the UK, the retro-funk grooves of Jamiroquai add even more socially conscious lyrics to their stew of old-school sounds. Frontman Jay Kay sound uncannily like mid-70s Stevie Wonder, and he leads the band to the dance floor while being progressive in the lyrics.

The band toned down some of its more outlandish experiments (not that much digeridoo now), and became even tighter and focused. The international hits “Light Years” and “Space Cowboy” propelled the group to the world stage, and even onto the US dance floors, where they were a hidden gem.

Don’t dismiss them as just a retro band aping sounds from the past – they incorporate the past sounds with a modern flourish. It’s a great record for putting on and grooving.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Space Cowboy” won the Brit for the best music video

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, different mixes or live cuts, depending on where you were at.

 GRADE A-: Funky people making a funky record.

Jamiroquai – Emergency on Planet Earth

ARTIST: Jamiroquai
TITLE: Emergency on Planet Earth
YEAR RELEASED: 1993JamiroquaiEoPE500x500
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.