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by Susan Harris
After three years of waiting for the highly anticipated fourth Jamiroquai album, the time is almost here. On 7th June, the band release "Synkronized", the follow up to the seven million selling "Travelling Without Moving". Already we have heard the disco-sound of the first single "Canned Heat", and if this track is anything to go by, the album will have been well worth the wait.
The recording of the album has not been without its glitches, the major one being bassist Stuart Zender leaving last October to spent time with his new family. Officially the split was on 'mutual terms', but with Zender reportedly suing frontman Jason Kay, perhaps there is more to it than first meets the eye. New bassist Nick Fyffe joined six weeks later, and tracks had to be re-recorded in order to prevent legal problems in the future.
Jamiroquai formed in 1992 and have since released three albums, "Emergency On Planet Earth", "Return Of The Space Cowboy" and "Travelling Without Moving". Last summer, they recorded their highest charting UK single, with the Godzilla soundtrack song "Deeper Underground" which reached #1, securing their position as one of the UK's hottest bands. Since the release of "Travelling Without Moving", they have cracked the illustrious American market, with "Virtual Insanity" winning best video at the 1997 MTV music video awards.
Jay Kay, who has been compared to legend Stevie Wonder many times, has rarely been out of the headlines of late, the most recent gossip being of his rumoured engagement to ex Big Breakfast presenter Denise Van Outen. The pressure of being in the public spotlight does not seem to have affected him too much though, with the singer continuing to write and produce silky dance tracks, including the forthcoming "Canned Heat".
"Canned Heat" is released on 24th May and is already picking up high radio airplay. The album which follows will be an evolution from "Travelling Without Moving". As Jay said, "I wanted a harder thing because, to be fair, some of the older tracks are not me. 'Virtual Insanity' is a nice track and all that, but it's not what I'd go and get down to. It's a nice song but I'm sick of being nice."
The band will be touring in June to promote the album, with dates at the biggest arenas in the UK, including two nights at Wembley Arena. They are also playing the Woodstock '99 festival in the States in July, as well as appearing on top talk show 'David Letterman'.
Despite all the problems which faced Jay Kay and the lads through the recording of 'Synkronized', they seem to have come through with flying colours. The album was recorded in Jay's Buckinghamshire mansion, and we'll just have to see if these relaxed conditions bring out the best in the band. But after listening to the sweet sound of "Canned Heat" once more, I will be surprised if it doesn't surpass the groove of the previous three releases. Personally I am already counting down the days till 7th June.