There are just some albums you can’t leave alone. Those albums that are timeless, you can listen to in whatever mood. They are musically, lyrically and emotionally perfect. You want to share them with the world, let everyone realise you’ve been right all along, and that your favourite album is in fact the Greatest Album Of All Time. But what if this album that you cherish is so deeply embarrassing, so unacceptable, that you never tell anyone? Well this is your chance to let it all out. In this new feature for WestWorld, we have invited our contributors to bare all and tell us their most embarrassing album love.
This is going to feel good to get off my chest. Not just because I have been holding in how much I love Jamiroquai for a couple of years for fear of being ridiculed by my peers, but also because this is an album everyone needs to hear, and by airing my opinion on their début album, Emergency on Planet Earth, I hope others will feel inspired by my words to shout about it from the rooftops.
Although Jamiroquai, led by enigmatic frontman Jay Kay, may not one of the ‘coolest’ bands to like, their talents as musicians and songwriters have never been in question. Well, to those who are in the know, of course.
They are the kind of band that had you not grown up in a particularly openly musical family, you might have automatically been sheltered from them.One example comment you may have heard includes, “Look at that stupid Jamiroquai bloke in that stupid Indian headdress.” Firstly, ill-informed parent, “that bloke” is called Jay Kay; Jamiroquai is the name of the band. Secondly, he’s wearing that Indian headdress as an ode to the Native Indian tribe, the Iroquois, who Jay Kay revered for their values and respect of planet Earth. Not so stupid now, is he, close minded parent?
This became the bedrock of their philosophy at the beginning of their career and served them well upon the recording and release of Emergency on Planet Earth. Along with the many instrumentalists in the band playing the likes of guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, trombone and even didgeridoo, their lyrics, written by Jay Kay himself, helped to define not only the band’s sound, but also their ethos in trying to make the world a better place through their music. On the band’s debut single, ‘When You Gonna Learn’, an upbeat, ear catching track that throws you head first in the album, Jay Kay sings about the problem with greed taking over modern society, encouraging the listener to act on his words, preaching “Mountain high and river deep, we gotta stop it going on.” The theme continues throughout when, on the album’s title track, he narrows down many pathways to show his anguish about the state of the world, noting both poverty and racism as areas for grave concern. Accompany this with the album’s penultimate track, ‘Revolution 1993’, a 10 minute masterpiece where Jay Kay once again shows his disdain for the fundamental principles of the modern world and you have an incredibly powerful series of song lyrics.
But of course, Emergency on Planet Earth isn’t just about the lyrics. The first thing that hits you when you’re listening is by far and away the instrumentation. Whether it’s the funky bass on ‘Too Young To Die’ or the glistening trumpets on well, pretty much every single track on the album, your musical urges will more than be satisfied. Undeniable evidence that it’s the music itself which is the nucleus of the album, is identifiable on ‘Music of the Mind’ and ‘
Didgin’ Out’, two completely instrumental tracks that let the free flowing nature of the band take you on a melodic journey through the artistry they call Jamiroquai.
One of the reasons I chose this album over others is because of how much I want people to listen to this musical masterclass. When you listen to the album, you feel like you’re sat front row in a tiny jazz bar down some cold, dark, dodgy alley in central London. It is an album that has so much natural feel and heart but with such energy all at the same time. The fact that they are near enough a nine-piece band that have a band member who purely plays the didgeridoo shows just how much work has gone into making the album a near perfect body of work.
If you ever had any predisposition about Jamiroquai – perhaps you didn’t like Jay Kay’s often publicised arrogant demeanour or his collection of quirky hats (something I personally love) – then I do hope that my effervescent words change your notion about a great British band that should be celebrated for many years to come.
By Sam Walker