With retro-soul firmly on the global music agenda thanks to righteous new r&b acts like Alicia Keys, Angie Stone and Glenn Lewis, England's Jamiroquai could conceivably sit back and take credit for their part in starting the phenomenon.
But instead of sitting out the party, Jamiroquai recently celebrated their trendsetting status by releasing another typically brilliant CD. Entitled A Funk Odyssey, the disc reconciles Jamaroquai's acid jazz roots with their more funk and disco proclivities. Indeed, new songs like "Love Foolosophy," "Corner of the Earth" and "Feel So Good" boast the sort of peace-loving lyricism and feathery r&b grooves complemented by electronic embellishments.
The album has left critics howling in its danceable wake. US Weekly said "A Funk Odyssey" is "packed with urgent, grabby melodies ... and Kay's sweet, soulful entreaties coax you out of your seat and practically force you to move."
Fronted by top hatted vocalist Jason Kay - affectionately known to fans as Jay Kay -- Jamiroquai surfaced in 1992 with the pioneering acid jazz single "When You Gonna Learn?" Trippy yet undeniably funky, the single was embraced by hipsters worldwide as an analog rebuke of digitized techno music. Signing with Sony Music, the group's 1992 debut album Emergency On Planet Earth further solidified Jamiroquai's neo-funk supremacy.
Having established their acid jazz credentials, Jamiroquai abruptly shifted gears and delved headlong into neo-funk and disco. The band's gamble resulted in the hit albums Traveling Without Moving and Synkronized, as well as the single and video "Virtual Insanity."
Before long, '70s funk icons like Bootsy Collins and Gil Scott Heron were publicly raving about Jamiroquai, while contemporary hip hop names like Gang Starr's Guru and Busta Rhymes were either sampling the British funksters or inviting them to collaborate. Since their 1992 emergence, Jamiroquai has sold over 16 million records worldwide.
Yet despite their success, the members of Jamiroquai remain focused. "Success is when I see all those people standing out there in front of me having a good time, and knowing that you've got a great album on your hands that you enjoy as much as they do," Jay Kay said recently. "What's important about selling 16 million albums is it's right across the world. It's not just the UK, there's a whole world of people out there."