The Return Of The Space Cowboy is the second album by the band Jamiroquai. Released in 1994, it is usually classified under the acid-jazz and funk genre.
This album has become somewhat uncommon in the United States but remains a classic in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Many consider it to be the best and most refined example of the unique Jamiroquai sound. The album has sold 4,000,000 copies to date. Bassist Stuart Zender does not appear on the album version of the song "Space Cowboy". Zender's explanation of the events which led to his non-appearance on the title track refer to a situation that occurred during the last stages of the album recording.
Jay Kay informed Zender that he wanted to record a new version of the title track. However, Zender had scheduled some time off to patch up his relationship with model Milla Jovovich. Kay gave his blessing to take the time off, but when Zender returned he found that Kay had recruited a session bassist, known only as "Mr X", to play on the song. Mr X is credited on the liner notes. The track "Morning Glory" was sampled in "Bite Our Style (Interlude)", a track by Missy Elliott from her album, Supa Dupa Fly. A similar occurrence occurred with "Manifest Destiny", sampled in "Who Do U Believe In", a track by Tupac Shakur from his album Better Dayz.
User Album Review
When Jason ‘Jay Kay’ Cheetham and his band appeared in 1992 as part of the acid jazz movement, they were viewed with a great deal of suspicion by the rock and soul cognoscenti. Aside from their leader’s silly hat, they ”“ keyboard player Toby Smith, bassist Stuart Zender, drummer Derrick McKenzie and Wallis Buchanan on didgeridoo ”“ seemed too arriviste; he was a showbiz child (his mother is comedienne Karen Kay), had bad boy credentials and a deep love for Stevie Wonder’s music. Naming his band after a combination of ‘jam session’ and the Iroquois Indians, theirs was a weird, stoned funk that sounded like some lost album from 1972.
The Return of the Space Cowboy was the 1994 follow-up to their debut, the previous year’s Emergency on Planet Earth. Q Magazine said at the time that "only Jay Kay could come up with as naff a title as The Return of the Space Cowboy and make it sound about right", and it’s true: it shouldn’t work, but it does. The whole album happens leisurely ”“ it plays for 71 minutes (just 10 minutes shorter than Wonder’s Innervisions and Fulfillingess’ First Finale put together) with most tracks around the six-minute mark. The mellow funk of Manifest Destiny meanders before drifting off in a brass heavy coda. Morning Glory is laid back, a blissed-out joy; perfect comedown music with percussion darting from speaker to speaker. The Kids is the only time the album strays from its trippy groove, with its heavy wah-wah opening and Kay’s affirmation that "now we’re getting nasty".
Space Cowboy, Half the Man and Stillness in Time were its UK-charting singles; the album reached number two domestically and spent over half a year on the chart. More importantly, it established the group in America, and its influence was huge, with Morning Glory sampled by Missy Elliott and Manifest Destiny by Tupac Shakur. The album hasn’t really dated one bit as it paid so little attention to musical trends of the time.
Although it still leaves this reviewer with the overwhelming feeling that he’d rather be listening to Stevie Wonder or Donny Hathaway, you cannot deny how well this is all done. The Return of the Space Cowboy captures this first phase of Jamiroquai at their very best.
External Album Reviews