JAMIROQUAI — Emergency on Planet Earth (review)

JAMIROQUAI — Emergency on Planet Earth album cover Album · 1993 · Acid Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
I first came to Jamiroquai for their pop/funk hits released throughout the new millennium, they offered a different angle to what the mainstream is used to, with music inspired by disco and 70s funk, and not simply superficial music.

However, it is the 90s Jamiroquai that is purely musical-focused and not trying to score hits (although they still did, not surprisingly). The early Jamiroquai belonged to the wave of British acid jazz from the 90s and they were one of the best at it.

Their debut, Emergency on Planet Earth, released in 1993 brought back to the music industry the grooves and well arranged compositions of Stevie Wonder and the like. Not only that, Jamiroquai also had a message, awareness to the world concerning man-made natural disasters (deforestation, pollution, etc), although he would later adopt a more friendly set of lyrics.

While some funk-heads may criticise Jamiroquai for not doing anything new, there are some others who think that the band achieved to produce some infectious songs containing great musicianship and smart interludes. Yes, I belong to the 21st century music crowd, so maybe I stick to Jamiroquai as ‘my Stevie Wonder’, but actually I like both for different reasons. I really don’t think Stevie ever really grooved like Jamiroquai does.

However, this album is nonetheless 'retro', the funky guitar, the disco-inspired string arrangements, the slapping bass, fusion-like keyboards, catchy brass lines, you name it. And although in some cases you can pin-point some bands that might have influenced this, for me Jamiroquai made a perfect sum-up of the vast funk movement of the 70s and turned it into their own, like a "best of 70s straight-funk" featuring the singular vocals of Jay Kay and the 90s production.

Emergency on Planet Earth is groovy from start to finish, and each song has different arrangements and in some cases they're full blown instrumentals. And although I find the whole album to be above average funk/acid jazz, there are certain highlights I'd like to mention.

'Too Young to Die' is the first one, and it's one of my favourite funk songs. It's incredibly catchy with its bass line and friendly vocals, but not only that, it has some very nice string and brass arrangements which add a lot to the song, and even an instrumental break typical of good funk/fusion bands.

'Music of My Mind' is another highlight, with its chilled fusion-like introduction full of synthesizers; it later evolves into a fast-paced instrumental with noteworthy solos and arrangements.

'Blow You Mind' is the perfect balance between vocal-led song and instrumental, with Jay even scatting alongside the brass resulting very pleasant. There are some great spacey keyboards throughout by Toby Smith, making the song actually “blow your mind”.

'Revolution 1993' is the last highlight, a 10 minute song that is presented like an actual revolution, where the music becomes tighter and louder by the end. Throughout you can listen to the great rhythm section and thoughtful brass, plus the initial addictive synth line. One of Jamiroquai's finest moments if you ask me.

Although many jazz fans are allergic to funky ("commercial") rhythms, I still think that this album is excellent and one of the classics of acid jazz, in spite of the retro sound. So, if you like catchy jazz-inspired music, Jamiroquai is both, addictive and interesting instrumentally.
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