Giving us a slightly different spin on the ‘When I Hit Rewind’ theme, Nathan McCormick gives us his thoughts on Jamiroquai and just why they are his biggest musical influence….
Being a general music lover, and having such a huge taste in music, I tend to like most bands and most genres. So to pick one individual band as a favourite becomes a hard task. But going on what band has influenced me the most as both a musician and a music lover, I would have to go back to the first band that I ever listened to, the British acid jazz band, Jamiroquai.
Jamiroquai was the first band that I listened to without the influence of my parents or anyone else and even though the band was founded in 1992 it wasn’t until 1996, the release of their music video Virtual Insanity, that I really had a chance to listen to them. Until this point I had never seen or heard anything quite like them, the dancing, the music videos, the liveliness and positivity of their songs, and most of all the hats! They had me hooked from the word go. Unfortunately having such a unique style it was hard to find other bands like them.
Nowadays it seems that in most modern bands the members can seem to be competing against each other, but this is not the case with Jamiroquai. The instruments used in this band seem to coexist for the sole reason of making the songs sound good rather then competing at ‘who can play the biggest and longest solo’. These reason and other reasons Jamiroquai have never cease to amaze me, they somehow manage to release great song after song, and unlike a lot of bands, the songs on the album are just as good as the ones released as singles, but just like every other band Jamiroquai also has its flaws.
The biggest flaw Jamiroquai has is the lead singer, Jay Kay. Although Jay Kay is a very talented singer, he has a very overwhelming ego and is very arrogant. I would normally look past something like this, but the fact that Jay Kay is the image of the band, so much so that most people are led to believe that it is in fact a solo project rather then a band, and when he does something stupid like punching a photographer in the face in a drunken rage it effects the image of whole band rather than just his own.
Another problem I have with the band is that the message they give across seems to be hypocritical. The reason I say this is, on the band’s first album they preach about how the world is in need and how we should worry about the condition and state of the world, but by the third album the band seems to have forgotten that and seemed to almost be promoting the very opposite.
The opening for the song Travelling Without Moving is a car starting its engine and in several of the band’s music videos they use a wide range of sports cars. That doesn’t seem to be a good image for people preaching about pollutions and peace.
If I had to sum up my thoughts on Jamiroquai, I think I would have to say that even with their few flaws they are still one of the greatest bands and greatest influences in my life and have done more for me as a musician, and a general music lover, then any other band I know. I also personally believe that the first 3 Jamiroquai albums should be part of every true music lovers CD collection if not their whole discography.
The band have released 7 studio albums in total and they have sold over 40 million copies worldwide..
Jamiroquai’s first album, Emergency On Planet Earth, was released in 1993. The album went platinum in both the UK and France. This was a success that the majority of their following albums would share.
At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards the music video for Virtual Insanity won a total of four awards, and was nominated for 10 awards, Including Breakthrough Video and the Best Video of the Year.
Although the band is an acid jazz they have also explored other genres of music such as Reggae, Ska, Pop, Rock, Funk, and Electronica. Examples of this can be heard on most of their albums. Here are a few of my favourites: Drifting along, Seven Days In Sunny June, and Radio.
Jamiroquai’s current line-up is:
Singer – Jay Kay (Only founding member still in the band)
Drums – Derrick McKenzie
Keyboard – Matt Johnson
Guitar – Robb Harris
Bass – Paul Turner
Percussion – Sola Akingbola
My further recommendations:
- Too Young To Die, Track 2, Emergence On Planet Earth
- Cosmic Girl, Track 2, Traveling Without Moving
- Virtual Insanity, Track 1, Traveling Without Moving.
- Canned Heat, Track 1, Synkronized
- Seven Days In Sunny June, Track 3, Dynamite
By Nathan McCormick
Just after finishing a gig last Friday at the Eastney Cellars in Portsmouth I sat down with some friends and it wasn’t long until the subject of discussion turned to music. At one point I mentioned that before I started to work in a music shop back in 1999, the only music I really listened to was rock music and grunge.
Sept 18th that year proved to be an important day for me because that was the day when I finally opened my eyes to the wider world of music. As I started my daily chores at work a song began over the in-store stereo. Simple guitar chords and a female voice which was soon followed by a basic beat that built up into a wall of noise. It was – and still is – one of the most simple yet effective tracks I have ever heard. The song was ‘Dirge’, the group was Death In Vegas, and the album was ‘The Contino Sessions’. The second track ‘Soul Auctioneer’ was every bit as jaw dropping as the first and the whole album was outstanding and like nothing I had heard before.
I snapped up the album that same day and I still play it now on a regular basis. Ok, it is a rock influenced album featuring Iggy Pop and Bobby Gillespie but it has a heavy dose of electronica in it which I had never really given any attention to previously. Without this album I would never have even entertained the idea of listening to Leftfield or Bonobo. In turn, I’d have never have dabbled with Drum n Bass, and without that I’d have never in a million years played anything remotely Hip-Hop which means my record collection would not include the simply amazing Beastie Boys. In my 8 years working in music shops I became more open to other genres like folk and classical. I’m still a rocker at heart, and my favourite album ever is still ‘In Utero’ by Nirvana, but ‘The Contino Sessions’ is almost certainly the most important album I have ever purchased. I’d be lost without it and if you haven’t heard it yet then please get a copy (on vinyl of course!) and play it loud!
When you ask most people what their earliest memories of music are you will see them go doe-eyed, tilt their head to the left and look up into the sky (Ala John Dorian in Scrubs) to share this cherished and ever so personal memory. Most will describe their first record or gig in the same way they will their first kiss or first love. They will talk about a life defining moment that changed them for all time and brought about this previously unknown world as if stepping through the wardrobe and finding Narnia…….
Unfortunately I don’t have one of these stories. There was no moment, no song no nothing for me.
As a young lad sure I was brought up in a house with music around (mostly Slade and T-Rex), and sure, I made my Dad go out and buy George Harrison’s “I Got My Mind Set On You” and Top Of The Pops was always on the telly but that was it for me it was just there.
I was always more interested in whether Gary Lineker would break Bobby Charlton’s goal scoring record for England, or why Pompey couldn’t beat Liverpool over 2 games in the FA cup semi final (that one still bemuses me, and I will never forgive Ronnie Whelan). Now don’t get me wrong I bought music and became an Oasis fan, I was swept along with Britpop, the cool Britannia emergence, and everything else that a teenage boy in the 90’s would have been excited about (except Henman at Wimbledon that really just got in the way during Euro ’96) but I didn’t grow my hair, change my clothes or even start going to gigs, music was just an extension of watching TFI Friday or playing Fifa, a sub-entity in life really.
As the years went on and injuries took their hold I gave up on the dream that I was going to be the next Alan McLoughlin (look him up, what a midfielder) and just got on with “normal” life. There was still no obsession, or life changing moment but I still bought music, and in the early 00’s when music was pretty poor I started listening to bands like the Jam and the Who but it was nothing more than background noise really. I even taught myself to play guitar out of a morbid curiosity to see whether I could do it (and also I thought it would be cool to pull out a guitar at parties) but still nothing, no changing of the tides or life changing moment.
After learning the guitar I decided to start a band as I couldn’t play football anymore and needed something to fill the time, but there was no aim of “let’s make it” and the only reason I wrote songs was because I was fed up learning other people’s music.
However it was around this time that I started spending time with other musicians at gigs and obviously rehearsals, and started hearing their own musical awakening stories, that I took stock and looked back for my own. Whilst I had no definitive moment or epiphany of sorts I realised that for the last 15 years I had been a music fan, that I had a “soundtrack” to my life and that all this time I’d been trying to be a footballer, left school, changed jobs and doing everything else that we all do that music was the constant, it was what I went back to when I was happy or sad, it picked me up and made me feel. Subconsciously I had been as big a music obsessive as the next man, it had shaped and moulded me and become a huge part of my life without even realising it.
Now maybe some would say that, “that was the changing moment” or “that’s when your life really started in music” but it never felt like that and still doesn’t to this day. Music is what it always was, something that is always there, A yard stick to measure time and events and an extension to most things that happen around me. Its just that instead of it being background noise it is at the very forefront of everything I do and leads me into the future like the big brother I never had.
It’s so clichéd it almost writes itself. My obsession with music began because of a girl. She was an older lady from the land of the ice and snow. Well, Middlesbrough but it may as well have been Scandinavia.
It was 1988. She was Michelle and 15. I was er, me and I was 8. Dad in a rare moment of coolness had borrowed the latest Bon Jovi album , New Jersey. I didn’t have a clue but Michelle wanted a copy. Being smitten and having recently discovered the merits of the wet t-shirt competition courtesy of the mechanic next door’s pervy calendars, I duly obliged. When I say I did the obliging, it was in actual fact “rarely cool Dad” that set up the compact disc to record to a C90. Dad did me proud that day and earned me unheard of kudos by my standards. I was, after all, still wearing a full football kit everyday. Yes, socks pulled up to the knees and shin pads.
Alas, due to our obligations to the law (both being underage) we decided it was best that nothing came of our (imaginary) relationship.
But from there rock n roll took over. My badminton racket became my Strat – Tennis rackets in reality fail to provide a lifelike guitar neck when compared to an old skool Yonex Voltric 80. My mirror was my audience and the neighbours the “man” that I was sticking two fingers up two. Albeit, when they weren’t looking.
I saw the Jovi for the first time years later in ’93 at Wembley arena, unknowingly the same concert that Matt talks about in “My first gig”* . Mum and Dad dutifully took me. During Bad Medicine, Mum did a dance that can only be described as a “bop” and my dad kind of “stood with rhythm” as Dads do.
The years have past since then and my tastes have changed. I’ve got snobbier and left the Jovi behind for grunge, thrash, prog rock, prog metal, black metal, blues and any number of sub genres. There is a legacy though. Whenever Livin on a Prayer comes on in a club, invariably you’ll find a 6’5” wookie playing the air talk box (details matter people) and attempting that impossible key change after the solo.
But I’m no less in love with music than when I first fell for her. Music marks the great and the odd in my collection of memories. For instance; leaving Princess Anne’s for the first time following my little girl being born, I had to make sure the right song was cued up for her to hear. It was massively important that she didn’t hear any old tripe like Shayne Ward’s god awful “If that’s ok”. After a falling out with the car seat, I was set. When newborn and mother were safely secured, ignition went on and Led Zep’s Immigrant Song sent us on our way. If I’m listening to Metallica’s Sad But True, I’m 18 again and playing along, smacking the bejesus out of mate Mart’s beat up white Fiesta taking us to the Cuckoo Pint in Stubbington or the long gone Swordfish at Hill Head.
As for the odd, well when I hear Tremor Christ by Pearl Jam I’m immediately taken back to my bedroom as a teenager where I was reading Rambo: 1st Blood when the Spin the Black Circle single came out with Tremor Christ on the B side. Random.
Summing up music’s spell, I finished writing this earlier as I’m out for a family meal. I’m trying to get the girls ready (a task akin to herding cats). Absentmindedly I shout “HEY HO” and get a 3 year old punk reply “LET’S GO”.
Gracie Ramone, I like that. Is it too late to change her name?
*[edit- The Jovi gig was same, but different. You were Friday I were Sunday, you missed Ranvilles Ranger FC presentation and a chance to meet probly Darren Anderton or another Pompey great, I missed a (one of only 3) day of school . Matt]
Last week I got myself an iphone 4. Since then, in between playing Angry Birds and Flick Football, I have been busily spending an itunes voucher given to me for my last birthday. Those of you who have used one will know how quick and easy it is. In no time at all I had purchased umpteen albums old and new complete with artwork at the click of a button. It’s amazing how much things have changed in this respect.
In 1993 Rage Against The Machine released their debut album, along with the single ‘Killing In The Name Of’ – the Simon Cowell/Joe McElderry slaying anthem. Back in those days, I only listened to Nirvana, G’n’R, Soundgarden, Bowie, and The Who – anything else received the attention levels of a goldfish. That was until I was handed a dusty old TDK90 cassette held together with a bit of sellotape…
On it, was the aforementioned single and it the effect it had on me was huge. Now I know it’s not RATM’s best track, but at the time, aged 12 and with a neat & tidy, yet very dodgy haircut, that song altered my perception of music forever. I played it, pressed rewind, played it again, pressed rewind again, and so it went on. There was nothing else on the cassette – everything else had been recorded over with an indescribable noise – and so that cassette stayed in my Alba Walkman for weeks on end while my brand new ’In Utero’ cassette sat alone.
Eventually I was asked to record it for a school pal. I duly did so, and he recorded his copy on to yet another cassette for someone else, who in turn did the same for another wide-eyed kid. By now the track had been passed on via 6 different cassettes (my copy being the 3rd having already been copied twice) and the sound quality was nothing short of abysmal – 4 minutes of tinny, broken music with what sounded like a Fisher Price drum set and virtually no bass! It didn’t stop the kid who owned this copy from playing it as much as I played mine, and it too opened his eyes to a brave new world of music.
Fast-forward 18 years and a million tape cassette compilations (Oh, and the minidisc!) and we are in an age now where so much is done at the touch of a button in a nano-second. I think of myself as fortunate to have been a part of a time where copying a song, let alone an album, required precision, LOTS of patience, a dual tape deck and an old cassette. Long live rock!
Kev - Kodiak Jack