Rock Dust Light StarRemember when Jamiroquai was cool?  Like, really… incontrovertibly….Antarctic chilly?  I remember the time of the first album, when those initial tracks began seeping through the PAs of the nightclubs I frequented in Sydney, where I was living at the time.  Those tunes sounded fresh – with great vocals, funky beds, an ecological sensibility and – well OK, admittedly, with the didgeridoo.  Even that made sense in an Australian context; more so when it’s 5am on Bondi Beach and you’re mashed off your banana.

Which brings us to the issue of that tricky 7thalbum, Rock Dust Light Star, Jay Kay’s first long player in five years and his first for new label Mercury?  Recorded primarily at Jay Kay’s own studio in his rather fine Buckinghamshire pile, it does basically sound like the output of the cat-in-the-hat sitting around his drum & bass, penning audio doodles and sonic noodles. Jay Kay is the Pizza Express of pop music.  It looks OK, tastes OK, but ultimately you only go there because you know exactly what you’re going to get.  Let’s be fair, he’s not as low-rent as Pizza Hut but he is indisputably High Street in orientation.

At times, say on tracks like ‘Two Completely Different Things’, or single ‘’Blue Skies, you find your head nodding and your foot tapping and it’s good – proper, slick funkage.  On others, however – step forward ‘Hurtin’’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors – it’s funk by numbers, funk faxed in, and that’s not good enough.  The live vibe of the album does undeniably create a much more organic, analogue texture to the music, as compared to previous albums – and it’s certainly inoffensive.  It’s more that sometimes I prefer to be offended.

Ultimately it feels like an album that has had “new label” cash thrown at it: red hot musicianship, spicy soulful backing vocals… all the ingredients, in fact, for a Sloppy Giuseppe. £8.60 to you, guv – dough balls extra.

Release Date 01/11/2010 (Mercury)

Simon is a writer, broadcaster and countercultural investigator. Over the last 15 years he has written for everyone from The Guardian to Loaded magazine, presented television for Rapture TV and hosted radio programs for the likes of Galaxy. He has also found time to earn a Masters Degree in Novel Writing and write three books (a collection of journalism, a guidebook to Ibiza and one on financial planning for young people – the most varied publishing career it’s possible to have) and establish and run a PR company, Pad Communications, looking after a range of leisure and lifestyle clients.He currently splits his time between researching his PhD at Leeds University, looking into various countercultural movements; consulting freelance for PR clients; writing for the likes of Marie Claire in Australia, The Big Issue and the Manchester Evening News, where he reviews concerts, theatre and is their Pub & Bar Editor. He is also broadcaster, appearing regularly on Tony Livesey’s late night 5Live show for the BBC, and also for BBC Radio Manchester Gourmet Night food and drink show.Simon’s main focus has been music and travel. His career has included editing Ministry of Sound’s magazine in Ibiza for two summers and also writing two long-running columns for DJmagazine – ”Around The World in 80 Clubs” (which took him everywhere from Beijing to Brazil, Moscow to Marrakech) and “Dispatches From The Wrong Side”. A collection of the latter was published in the UK and US as the book Discombobulated, including tales as varied as gatecrashing Kylie Minogue’s birthday party, getting deported from Russia, having a gun held to his head by celebrity gangster Dave Courtney and going raving in Ibiza with Judith Chalmers. He has recently written for the likes of Red magazine, Hotline, Clash, Tilllate, Shortlist and the Manchester Evening News. Pad Communications has recently consulted for clients as varied as Manchester nightclubs and New Zealand toy companies.On a personal note, Simon is a Londoner who left the capital at the age of 18 and never looked back. He sees himself as a citizen of the global dancefloor having lived in Sydney, Los Angeles, Ibiza and Amsterdam. However his life is now rather more sedentary. After all his adventures he bumped into and subsequently married his highschool sweetheart from their North London Grammar. They now live in Stockport with their four children and four chickens, trying to live the good life. Simon recently turned 40 and is steadfastly refusing to have a midlife crisis – as in, growing a ponytail and buying a shiny red sports car.OK, maybe he’ll buy the sports car…