Tales From The Bargain Bin: Jamiroquai, Emergency on Planet Earth

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About a month ago, I hit up my favorite thrift shop and managed to purchase not one, but two Jamiroquai CDs, their first album, Emergency on Planet Earth, and their second album, Return of the Space Cowboy, for the low price of $2 per CD. I couldn’t wait to start listening. Of the two albums, Emergency was the one I gravitated to immediately. I was familiar with the album’s pro-environmental stance, and I had glimpsed at the music video for the title track, which was a montage of environmental clips, from oil spills to endangered animals. Preachy, yet catchy.

Songs like “When You Gonna Learn (Digeridoo)”, “Too Young To Die”, and the title track, “Emergency on Planet Earth”, are the prime examples of the album’s preachy side. Even as heavy handed as the messages are, the groove of the music makes it impossible to stop listening. The band borrows influence from everyone from Earth, Wind, & Fire to The Brand New Heavies.

If you feel the need to skip the Captain Planet-caliber environmental and anti-destruction messages, you can always check out tracks such as “Hooked Up”, which offers the track’s music as a sound opiate/anti-depressant, or “If I Like It, I Do It”, a catchy song about anti-conformity. The instrumental piece, “Music of the Mind”, is so peaceful, it can be used for meditation, which I suspect was the purpose of the composition. Getting back on the up-tempo groove, the James Brown-esqe “Whatever It Is, I Just Can’t Stop” is a first-person observation of the struggles of alcoholism and addiction. The music is so catchy, you’ll have to read the lyrics to pick up on the message. Amazingly, with so much funk on this album, there’s only one track that comes close to a love song, the smooth, “Blow Your Mind”, a cross between an Earth, Wind, & Fire ballad and a roller rink jam.

Overall, this debut album is a good place to get your feet wet if you want to check out Jamiroquai. Yes, it’s got “Message” written all over it, but I’d be a fool to ignore how good the music is.

Tales From The Bargain Bin: Jamiroquai (Prologue)

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Looking through my CD collection, I just lately realized how many great and classic albums I have in my possession. Many of these albums, I’ve bought for less than $10, a lot of them I bought for $2 from my favorite thrift shop, and in  one case, one album I bought for 99 cents!  So, amazingly, without having to bleed my wallet, I’ve managed to satisfy my need for good music. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy paying full price for a new album too (Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet was worth the $13.99 I spent on it), but you’d be amazed with the classic albums you can find in the bargain bin. I’ve found everything from Norah Jones to classic Chick Corea. My most prized finds in recent months, however, have been of a beloved U.K. funk/dance band that thrived in the 90’s, during my teen years: Jamiroquai.

In the past 2 1/2 months, with random but regular trips to a local thrift shop, I’ve managed to purchase five Jamiroquai albums, helping me rediscover the band that I heard so much of in high school. These five albums are (in order of release): 1993’s Emergency on Planet Earth, 1995’s Return of the Space Cowboy, 1996’s Traveling Without Moving, 1999’s Synkronized, and 2001’s A Funk Odyssey. These five albums have not only been my biggest treasure from the bargain bin, but they’ve helped me look beyond the band’s biggest hit single, “Virtual Insanity”. As such, I’ll be reviewing these albums in chronological order, and I hope that I’m able to paint a picture for you the appeal of this band. Keep watch for my review of Jamiroquai’s first album for Sony, Emergency on Planet Earth.

Don’t Be Discouraged

Do you have someone in your life who’s a constant naysayer? Someone who shoots your dreams down whenever you share them? I’ve had quite a few people like that in my life, especially in my family.  When I had dreams of becoming a radio DJ, they were shot down. When I wanted to be a professional photographer, they shot those dreams down too.  I remember when I first started writing rap lyrics in high school. My mom went through my stuff and found them.  My father crumpled up and threw out the pieces of paper right before my eyes. Lately, my older cousin had been the cause of my self-doubt, shooting down whatever plans I have for myself in the future. Funny, he tells me “don’t sell yourself short”, but that’s all he ever does.

I watched a clip from The Pursuit of Happyness yesterday that made me think of all the people who have tried to crush my dreams or stand in my way. It was the scene where Will and Jaden were talking about Jaden wanting to be a basketball player. Will starts to tell Jaden that it’s a silly dream, but stops short when he realizes that he had been told the same thing all his life. Then he proceeds to tell Jaden not to let anybody crush his dreams, to go for it, no matter what they say. This spoke to me.

It hurts when the people you grew up with, people in your own family, crush your dreams, thinking they know what’s best for you. I’ve gotten more support and encouragement from people who weren’t related to me by blood than I ever did from my own family. Sometimes, you have to be your own motivator, your own cheerleader.  You have to push on when those close to you call you a fool, even though you know what you’re doing. Believe in yourself, even if the rest of the world doesn’t believe in you.