The Return Of The Space Cowboy
REVIEW BY: Peter Vissers
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/02/2009
The first time I heard Jamiroquai, I had yet to get used to their jazzy sound. But after only a few weeks of occasionally playing a song, I got hooked. Nowadays, the group is incredibly successful with their unusual mix of jazz, funk and electronic pop. Their energetic and rather enigmatic frontman Jay Kay is an amazing performer and gets almost everyone to dance.
Jamiroquai’s critically acclaimed debut album, Emergency On Planet Earth, hit the shelves with a big bang. After releasing their first single “When You Gonna Learn?” on the Acid Jazz label in 1992, they signed an eight-album record deal with the big Sony BMG. The Return Of The Space Cowboy marks Jamiroquai’s second album.
When Jamiroquai recorded The Return of the Space Cowboy, Jay Kay was still accompanied by Stuart Zender, whom some call one of the greatest studio bassists of all time (and I happen to agree). Zender joined Jamiroquai when he was only eighteen years old, and he was their original bass player, playing with the group until 1998. Jamiroquai has yet to find a bass player as gifted as Zender.
The album starts off with the song “Just Another Story,” which somehow reminds me of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon.” This illusion is shattered when Jay starts to sing, though. The second song, called “Stillness In Time,” is a bossa-style tune and doubtlessly one of the best songs on the disc. The diversity of styles here clearly shows Jamiroquai’s approach to music.
Another amazing song is “Space Cowboy,” which features a mellow mix of jazzy bass and a whole lot of dreamy effects. Both “Space Cowboy” and “Mr. Moon” have amazing basslines that carry the songs to incredibly high levels. A few songs, however, aren’t that stunning. “Light Years,” for example, is a mediocre and boring song. It has some interesting bridges, but falls back into the same dull pattern all the time. The track “Journey To Arnhemland” features a didgeridoo and some other interesting instruments, while “The Kids” is funky and up-tempo and sounds rather distorted.
Anyone familiar with Jamiroquai will definitely love this album, though people who haven’t heard of Jamiroquai before will need some time to get used to it. But after a while, you will really, really start to like it. Banging basslines, slick vocals, muted trumpets, Latin guitar and the occasional piercing guitar solo -- this album has it all.