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Love Letter To A Record: Close Counters On Jamiroquai’s ‘The Return of the Space Cowboy’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become. 

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Close Counters – Jamiroquai, The Return of the Space Cowboy (1994)

We had a hard time picking just one album to write a love letter to… We wanted to find something that has inspired our music and craft but also a record that has been with us throughout our journey as becoming musicians. We landed on a band that many people of our generation may also have seen on ABCs rage on early weekend mornings, none other than the UK hit makers, Jamiroquai.

In 1994, they released their sophomore album – The Return Of The Space Cowboy – a personal favourite of ours. Fresh off the success of their debut, Emergency On Planet Earth, this album launched the band out of their fan base in the UK and into the US, with two songs on the album earning nods from Missy Elliot and Tupac Shakur in the form of samples.

Mixing grooves from Motown artists of the 70’s and the clean pop production sounds of the 90’s, Space Cowboy is 11 tracks long with each song arranged meticulously to showcase the talents of the powerhouse band as well as the energetic and flamboyant vocals of front man, Jay Kay.

We love that throughout their career, Jamiroquai managed to win support from both the pop charts and the deeper jazz and funk scene. The title track was released with a pop edit that reached #1 on the US dance charts, and a deeper 6.5 minute cut to finish off the album, complete with flourishing synth solos and vocal scatting.

In the disco-laced ‘Mr. Moon’, bass player Stuart Zender could be mistaken for Bootsy Collins – showing off a heavy slap-groove, which perfectly tucks into the pocket laid down by drummer and percussionist Derrick Mackenzie.

Another highlight on the album is the instrumental ‘Journey to Arnhemland’, a tribute to Indigenous Australia, featuring didgeridooist Wallis Buchanan.

A perfect snapshot in to the mid-90s UK and capturing Jamiroquai in the prime of their career – The Return of the Space Cowboy is a force to be reckoned with and has been a massive influence on our songwriting as a band. There’s no doubt we’ll be giving this record many more spins in time to come.

Close Counters are a Melbourne-based production duo who’ve just teamed up with renowned vocalist (and Gondwana & First Word Records) signee Allysha Joy for their high-energy new single ‘SPEAK IN TRUTH’.

Listen below and catch the band performing live at Victoria’s Meadow Festival alongside King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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