It was September 1993. I was working my first real job, at a short-lived Tower Records location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Nirvana’s “In Utero” had come out maybe a week before, Mariah’s “Music Box” was riding high on the charts, and the store’s constant soundtrack came from a little known British soul band who wouldn’t achieve American success for nearly half a decade.
Not too many people knew who Jamiroquai was around that time, but in our little corner of the world, Jason Kay and his buddies were superstars. The sound was retro-soulful at a time when most pop music was adult contemporary treacle and most soul was of the new jack swing variety. If you were into acid-jazz around that time (think: Brand New Heavies, “Rebirth of Cool”, Guru’s “Jazzmatazz”), then you were definitely bumping Jamiroquai’s debut “Emergency on Planet Earth”. Actually, Guru was definitely checking for these dudes, as they popped up on “Jazzmatazz II” two years later.
I should also mention that “When You Gonna Learn” introduced quite a few people (well, me, at least) to the didgeridoo.
Nowadays, you say “Jamiroquai” and people either remember their Grammy and VMA-winning single “Virtual Insanity” or the iconic “Canned Heat” performance by “Napoleon Dynamite” (or that damn hat). However, my fondest Jamiroquai experiences will always have to do with that first album. With the band scheduled to return soon after a brief hiatus, I’m hoping that Jason Kay will continue to delight music listeners who love discofied soul-funk for years to come.