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Rock Dust Light Star Import
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Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Rock Dust Light Star|
|2. White Knuckle Ride|
|3. Smoke and Mirrors|
|4. All Good in the Hood|
|6. Blue Skies|
|8. She's a Fast Persuader|
|9. Two Completely Different Things|
|10. Goodbye to My Dancer|
|11. Never Gonna Be Another|
|12. Hey Floyd|
2010 release, the seventh album from British Jazz Funk pioneers Jamiroquai. Fronted by the charismatic Jay Kay, this is the band's first album in five years, following Dynamite with the kind of catchiness that made Jamiroquai a household name. Recorded between Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, and Thailand, Rock Dust Light Star features the single 'Blue Skies', a Take That-esque uplifting pop song - a departure from tracks such as 'Space Cowboy'. This record shows the group's talent remains as strong in 2010 as it was in 1994.
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It seems to be in vogue to hate on Jamiroquai, which I can understand to a certain degree:
First off, it's a white--not to mention British--band doing music clearly inspired in styles that originated in black culture. It's always been a music industry tradition to promote bands like this with much more financial backing and energy than is often devoted to the black creators of the sound. However, at this point Jamiroquai seems to have eschewed the industry support they used to have in favor of artistic independence, which equals minimal support on the business end, effectively returning them to underground status. I, for example, try to keep my ear to the ground for all creative funky music being released, and I only came across this album because I've been checking Amazon every six months for one of their releases.
Second, I've heard several extremely talented and dynamic vocalists complain that Jay Kay is something of a one-trick pony in his vocal approach. I can see how some find this getting old, but this album moves in slightly different musical directions, which in some ways makes up for the consistency of his vocal timbre. On top of that, the one sound he does have is a heck of a lot more pleasant to hear than the majority of voices out there, so you won't find me complaining about that.
Finally, if you actually pay any attention to the lyrics, you'd find that this is a band trying to make a positive impact on the world. It's not like they're just stealing a style to make bubble gum hits (which is not to imply that all their lyrics are in the vein of Gil Scott Heron's). For all those who say people should be listening to the roots of this music instead of this current incarnation, let me be proactive in offering some suggestions: Chic, SOS Band, Slave, Pleasure, The Commodores, Cameo, Parliament/Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone, Enchantment, The Dramatics, Graham Central Station, Prince, Bloodstone, Shalamar, Bobby Womack, The Isley Brothers, The Ohio Players, and Maze--to name just a few. That being said, even with hundreds of albums from those artists in my collection, I still take pleasure in hearing the songs on this album in my personal rotation.
On this album Jamiroquai have a sound that doesn't have much to do with the sound of their earlier recordings. And certainly not the previous two. While Jay's voicals,whether due to his hard living past or overeaching vocally over time,is continuing to lose the range and volume it once had the material here is unique and diverse. Sure the digeredoo sound is of course long gone. What is here is a sound that,overall blends Jamiroquai's funkier and more soulful influences with stronger elements of singer-songwriter and pop/rock. The upbeat title song and the pretty ballad "Blues Skies" are basically built around acoustic guitars. "White Knuckle Ride" and "All Good In The Hood" are the kind of Rod Temperton/Steve Arrington influenced sophistifunk Jamiroquai have always excelled with. Again,both have a somewhat subdued undertone even still. The arrangements of "Smoke And Mirrors","She's A Fast Peruader" and "Hey Floyd" are a reminder of the type of polyrhythmic "united funk" style instrumental power they were always able to insert into their sound.
While "Hurtin" does,to an extend replicate the sound of "Virtual Insanity" a little other songs such as the mildly 70's light rock influenced "Lifeline",with it's almost Beatle like refrain as well as "Two Completely Different Things" and "Goodbye To My Dancer" return to the singer-songwriter type pop funk of the title song. It all rounds out with another smooth groove in "Never Gonna Be Another". Lyrically Jay is resolving a bit of sewing his wild oates with this album. Not only that but as much of a return to form in terms of live instrumentation it is,the production is rather subdued by Jamiroquai standards. In some ways it's a return to the form of their first four albums. On another end it actually represents a completely different group-a more understated and somewhat adult Jamiroquai. Not sure if this is the end of the band,since they have signed to a new label or the start of a new beginning. Hope it's the latter. The band and their creative vision are more than worth it.
Rock Dust Light Star -The title track was one that was released early on You Tube by a few eager fans holding camera phones. I was so very excited to hear this on the album however; this is actually one of my least favorite songs. There is some sloppy guitar work in this one and the background singers seem to overpower Jay Kay on too many occasions. I do like the track love how toward the end Jay Kay lets go a bit but again, the background singers seem to overpower him too much and his velvet voice gets lost too often in the noise.
White Knuckle Ride-I really enjoy this song, I do wish that it had not been released as the first single however, I understand why it was. This is probably the most `main stream' song on the album, consistent beats, and a very VERY catchy chorus. Same backup singers on this one, but they take a back seat to Jay Kay. This one is destined to be remixed (and remixed...and remixed....and remixed).
Smoke and Mirrors-I was not a huge fan of this one when I first heard it, I still don't think that it comes close to what the band is capable of. That being said, the more I listen to it the more I come to appreciate the horns, mellow mood it creates, and smooth tone of Jay Kay. There is something that works about this song, even though I really don't want it to. There is an almost jazz feeling to this one. It picks up toward the end and makes me wish that the first half matched the tempo and feeling of the second.
All Good in the Hood - One of the better songs on the album. Very peppy with a very catch chorus (I dare you not to smile when Jay Kay declares that it's "all good in the hood tonight"!). Disco type feel to this one. Jay Kay's voice is a bit distorted (I am sure there is a technical term but it almost sounds like he is talking through an old style telephone). I can imagine that this was a close contender for the first single release due to the `pop' nature of it.
Hurtin'-This song really showcases what Jay Kays voice can do. Gritty and sounding well worn (in a good way, not the three-pack-a-day way), you really can hear through his voice the pain that created this song. Often overpowering, the instrumentals take a background on this one and allow Jay Kay to start to stretch himself a bit vocally.
Blue Skies - This is the other single that was released early. A very laid back melody with a very typical sound. I am not a huge fan when Jamiroquai tries to do a song that sounds `radio ready'. They are so much better than that. However, this song does work and winds up coming out as a beautiful ballad. Jay Kay sounds FLAWLESS on this song, so smooth and sweet. I have never been a fan of their slower songs but this one does the trick, doesn't sound at all like them, but it does work.
Lifeline - The first time I listened to this song I really did not like it all. It is now probably my second or third favorite. Heavy on horns again (I adore when they bring horns in on the songs, it just adds that little jazz edge that I love). The chorus and verse and totally different from each other at the beginning, it almost seems like they are from two different songs, at first it really annoyed me. Now I cannot imagine the song any other way. Soft strings and horns accompany Jay Kay on the verse and the song breaks into a bit more rowdy almost `showtunes' type of chorus. These two parts come into a nice unison toward the end of the song when it's all let loose, then backs off once more to allow the strings and piano take over a bit, this is a wonderful, beautiful, and unusual arrangement.
She's a Fast Persuader - I am on the fence on this song. It is one of the more up tempo songs on the album and sometimes I listen to it and really like it, other times I just want to skip past it. Very fast beats, slowing at the chorus which transitions into an almost dreamlike quality. Again, the verse and chorus don't seem to match on this one but, as always, Jay Kay makes it work with a result that I find tapping my foot to.
Two Completely Different Things -this is BY FAR my favorite song on the album!!! The first few times I skipped by it not thinking much of it but it has (after only two weeks) taken the top spot on my ipod for most played. Extremely smooth opening to this song, Jay Kay's voice takes center stage in this one and does not disappoint. The song begins as a mid tempo ballad of sorts and about halfway transitions into a bridge and finale that still gives me goose bumps, this is one of the only songs where is seems Jay Kay really lets his voice shine and reminds his long time fans that while this album is more subdued, his voice is still is filled with the same gorgeous soul that carried him this far. Heavy on the horns and with catchy and beautiful lyrics. This song, at least for me, is the crown jewel of the album.
Goodbye to my Dancer - A very sweet reggae inspired song. Very Caribbean sounding and somewhat unusual for Jamiroquai, this is a great stretch for the band. Different enough that you know they are going outside of their comfort box but not enough that you don't recognize a lot of the guitar and smooth transitions that the band does so well at. You will either love this one or hate it, but at least listen until the chorus as that brings the song together with a nice bow.
Never Gonna Be Another - Think about a quiet evening, cashmere PJ's (of course, since this is Jamiroquai you also would be wearing a really cool headdress) glass of wine, cuddled up by a crackling fireplace with the one you love, and then add one of the most mellow and gorgeous songs on the album. Enough said.
Hey Floyd - This song rubbed me the wrong way the first few times I heard it, I gave it another shot a few days later. As it turns out it is a really good song. Again, it carries a very Carribbean sound with it, but once again, the chorus brings it all to a different level. Heavy on instrumentals and very dramatic, I adore the quick lyrics and accompanying strings on the chorus. Give this one more than one chance, it needs it but once you realize what Jay Kay was trying to get across you will appreciate it that much more.
Unfortunately, after this fantastic start, the songs begin to lag a bit. There are a few other excellent ones, make no mistake: "Hurtin'," "Blue Skies," and "She's a Fast Persuader" (the latter being a fairly unmistakable ode to oral sex) are particularly great; but these are counterbalanced by a few of the most cringe-worthy tracks that Jamiroquai has ever produced. "Smoke and Mirrors" has my nomination for the worst single line in the album ("Well you're damned if you do / And you're damned if you don't / 'Cause your friends don't like his haircut / But he wants your lovin' tonight"), while "Two Completely Different Things" and "Never Gonna Be Another" strike me as being totally unforgettable and emotionally dry. Still, my fullest revulsion is reserved for "Goodbye to My Dancer" and "Hey Floyd," which, whatever their upsides, make use of boring and emotionally uneven Caribbean instrumentation in a way that at once annoys me and puts me to sleep.
I probably speak for the minority of my fellow long-time Jamiroquai fans when I say that Dynamite was my favorite album; I couldn't get enough of its hard, synthetic energy, as exemplified by tracks like "Electric Mistress," "Black Devil Car," and "Feels Just Like It Should." Rock Dust Light Star, the first real post-Dynamite release and also the first album that the band has produced without the constraints of their previous recording contract, has a much slower and more contemplative personality overall. The quality of its lyrics has improved in some instances while deteriorating in others, and there's a noticeable absence of both experimentally vocal-free songs like "Didgin' Out" and politically-themed ones like "Virtual Insanity" or "Revolution 1993." (But then, I never really agreed with Jamiroquai's politics.) When Rock Dust Light Star is bad, it's bad; but on the other hand, its strongest tracks are in some ways superior to my favorites from Dynamite. I think that Jamiroquai fans and newcomers alike will be missing out if they don't get a hold of this album and enjoy those few engaging core songs. Still, I do wish that the album were more of a complete experience, and that I didn't find myself routinely tempted to skip past more than half of its contents.
Despite the tough love of my criticisms here, I would be remiss if I ended on a negative note. Jamiroquai has been one of my favorite bands for perhaps a decade now; their catchy pop/dance/disco/funk/electronica sound, awesome vocals, and inventive wordplay distinguish them from the predictable and genre-bound artists who currently dominate the market. Even at their worst, they are outstanding, and I'm not convinced that this is their worst title. If you like Jamiroquai's work, buy Rock Dust Light Star with the understanding that it's something of a mixed bag. If you have never listened to Jamiroquai, start by buying their last three albums, Dynamite, A Funk Odyssey, and Traveling Without Moving... and *then* buy Rock Dust Light Star.