Monday, November 13, 2006

High Times: Singles 1992-2006 - Jamiroquai

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First things first; it is an absolute pleasure to see a chronological hits compliation. This is how they should be done. Ok it does miss of some of the hits (including two of my favourites in Half The Man and King For A Day AND a top 10 hit Stillness In Time) but then good old Jay Kay has had 23 top 40 hits in the UK alone so you can let him off.

And it is a "him". They might be a band in name, but it's always been Jay Kay and a revolving door of bandmates. And that is perhaps symptomatic of the problems with this collection. Everything since the superb Emergency On Planet Earth album has been, well, much of a muchness as if Kay has but the two ideas; fast songs that sound a little like Stevie Wonder...and slow songs that sound a little like Stevie Wonder.

What's here from the debut is still classic today, even if all lyrically concern the same eco-warrior themes. It all went "wrong" though from the Return Of The Space Cowboy album, if an artist with 6 top 3 studio albums can be said to have gone wrong. Sure he could usually be relied on to come up with at least one great single per album (at least in the early days with tracks such as Virtual Insanity and Canned Heat) but everything sounded, well, the same.

Indeed by 2001's A Funk Odyssey the Jamiroquai vessel was definately on auto-pilot and not even a gap of 3 years to 2005's Dynamite could revitalise the music. Still, on the first two thirds of this collection at least, there is much to enjoy in a disco-style fashion. I mean seriously, if you can't have a boogie to the best of the tunes you've probably never been on a dance-floor in your life.

As for the new trakcs, Runaway sounds exactly as you would expect a Jamiroquai song to sound like but at least it's better than Radio, which might well be the worst song on the collection and reeks of fullfilling contractual obligations. Who knows, with this contract finishing best of in the bag, and talks of taking a year off, maybe Jay Kay will soon be in a position to really kick of his shoes when the time comes around for his next new album.

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