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Friday, 31 August, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Familiar funky frolics
Cover of A Funk Odyssey
Jamiroquai serve up the usual funky flavours
By the BBC's Brendan Cole

Sometimes the brand gets confused with the product. Hoover and the vacuum cleaner, Tannoy and the public address system spring to mind.

Similarly, I often wondered whether Jamiroquai referred to the actual band or the bloke with the bonkers headgear and the Motown voice who looked like some curious love child of Dr Seuss and Stevie Wonder.

 Click here to watch Jamiroquai perform Little L on Top Of The Pops

But over the last eight years Jamiroquai has always been relied upon to blow a warm joyous breeze through a chart creaking with A&R cynicism and manufactured girl/boy bands.

As an intriguing development in the 90s British club scene, Jamiroquai, fronted by Jay Kay (I know which is which now) blended house rhythms with an unadulterated 70s groove.

Their sound bore no resemblance to anything that had been popular since the time mirror balls, platform shoes and fondue parties were all the rage.

Jay Kay with ex-fiancée Denise van Outen
Jay Kay has had his fair share of tabloid attention
The playful näivety of Emergency on Planet Earth could have been a novelty album had it not been for the fact that it sold by the bucketload and was followed up with the equally successful The Return of The Space Cowboy.

Meanwhile, as if the UK was not enough, it was the world-conquering Travelling Without Moving that netted the group platinum plaudits on both sides of the pond.

Jay Kay's good looks and glamorous celebrity girlfriend (Denise Van Outen - now his ex) ensured acres of tabloid coverage and the frontman was pictured in various states of schmoozing, boozing and carousing.

But could his creativity still make the headlines?

As his urban sound moved to the country manor he could now afford, many wondered if he was just a one-trick pony.

Enter the not so subtly titled new album A Funk Odyssey and we have the answer. Expect more of the same but with a bit more innovation.

Jay Kay wearing one of his many hats
Jay Kay shows off his vocal range
It starts off well with Feel So Good, a traditional fat bass accompanied by house synthesiser.

Next is the new single Little L with all the usual trademarks, funky trippy sensual guitar tinkers and a rippingly good chorus.

On Give Me Something, he playfully sings, "You're the one I truly know I dig" and on the standout track Love Foolosophy we get the full evidence of the talent of Jay Kay.

The lush backing arrangements are so fluffy you could rest your head on them and that voice soars and swoops like an albatross speeding. He makes you feel like he is singing it just for you.

Unfortunately, there are some fillers, too. Black Crowe never really gets started and Main Vein suffers from a thudding clumsy chorus.

He experiments with Prodigy-style punk synthesiser on Twenty Zero One, which hints at a direction that he may take in the future but seems afraid to really go for.

This album has some strong points but the weak ones niggle. It sounds like all the others for one.

All the usual stuff about space, magic and girls is there and it does seem as though the group is trapped on the ring road, circling again and again.

The other shame is that such a summery album is being released as an all too short season is coming to a close.

Still, it may keep us going through those long cold nights...

A Funk Odyssey is released by Sony on 3 September

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