Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving: #377 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Jamiroquai - Travelling Without Moving

So why is Jamiroquai’s Travelling Without Moving on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

The Libertines are a UK band that didn’t appear on the scene until the early 2000s, roughly five years after I lived in England over a long, wet winter of 1997-1998.

But when I think back to my time over in jolly old, the vibe – that ever mysterious word relating to the atmosphere, the chemistry, the feeling of a time and place – of my time there is best represented as a musical mix of The Libertines and Jamiroquai circa Travelling Without Moving.  

What the heck does this mean, you ask?

It means evenings of two quid pints at The Nag’s Head pub, where we befriended a gamut of creatures from the local art college (Chatham, Kent, that). We were all pasty from pub nights and lack of sunlight, and would dress in thrift store funk-meets-alt rock garb. Some of the more flash gents would do this thing where they’d push their mod-length sideburns forward just so.

We knew three girls called Rachel (they say called instead of named in England, which I still dig) and we had nicknames to tell them apart and one of us (that’d be my American pals and flat mates Adam and Nirav) may or may not have kissed more than one Rachel and all of us may or may not have all kissed the same Rachel at some point.

On my 23rd birthday, someone gave me a pin that exclaimed I’m 23! which I donned proudly, and our Nag’s Head crowd determined gamely to get me drunk out of my mind (spoiler: they succeeded).

One night, Nirav and I were walking/stumbling home from the pub, perhaps a 15-minute walk back to our flat in Rochester, and this large crowd of young men were heading toward us but still quite a ways off. They were singing, probably some football/soccer chant, which for no reason at all prompted Nirav and I to start belting out WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT by Twisted Sister as loud as we possibly could.

The crowd, the young fellas, immediately sprinted in our direction as though on command. In my memory, they stopped just short of us, probably needing to take a moment to assess these two oddballs, neither of whom looked all that threatening, let alone tough.

On pure instinct, I announced, “We’re Americans!” which turned out to be the exact right thing to do. Slapping on backs and well mets followed.

And then by day it was two buses back and forth each way to a gig that was literally the same one the stars of the British sitcom The IT Crowd had right down to the vibe of being a hapless help desk administrator for a company that could have been the model for the UK version of The Office (the David Brent one, that).

It was a strange time and it was the very best of times, too.

And during this time, songs like “Cosmic Girl” and “Virtual Insanity” were key tracks on our life soundtrack. They set the scene, they set the vibe. We were travelling, and we were Travelling Without Moving both, somehow.

“Virtual Insanity,” which kicks off Travelling Without Moving, is my favorite Jamiroquai song, and its opening jazz/funk chords still put me in a very specific and particular fame of mind (hopefully the above gives you a hint of this). The music video plays its role in burrowing the song into my brain as well, and I very much associate Jay Kay shimmying and sliding around the floor with couches and such not just with my time in England, but with the late 1990s as a whole.

“Cosmic Girl” is an exquisite choice to layer in as the second song as it helps Travelling Without Moving take flight. Very few bands have been able to mesh disco, acid jazz, r&B, and funk as well as Jamiroquai, and the lean into disco on “Cosmic Girl” is spectacular fun.

And then the title track, “Travelling Without Moving,” drives into funk mode a little more, a direction that Jamiroquai would effectively explore further on Synkronized (#512 of best 1,000 albums ever).  

Pop culture stuff that has something do with Jamiroquai’s Travelling Without Moving

Travelling Without Moving is the album that I most closely associate with my time living in England. But there are a bunch of other bands and albums that I think about with regard to my days living in the UK.

For example, I made an attempt to get into British punk music while I was there, and bought a three album CD set that was called something like UK Punk!* So that’s when I started to dive into bands such as Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers.

* Side note that compact discs were expensive in the U.S. back then, and REALLY expensive in England – particularly with the exchange rate for Yanks being about 1.5 pounds to the dollar back then. Side note to the side note that even though it’s a different relationship with regard to accessibility versus owning, Spotify especially – with its vast archives of music and audio content – is in all regards dirt cheap for consumers by any standard.

I also was into aggressive music when I jogged, and Rage Against the Machine and Downset often accompanied me on such journeys – some of which were out in the most (otherwise) tranquil English countryside and streets you can imagine.

Trip hop had taken hold of the local music scene, and my man Nirav and I stumbled into a live performance by the Sneaker Pimps while we were in the city of Maidstone one evening.

I still listened to quite a lot of terrestrial radio back then, and it’s always a fun way to try to pick up on local culture while traveling. There was a mix of UK and U.S. pop artists who were popular at the time in the UK who weren’t necessarily topping the charts back in the states.

The funniest anecdote here is that I had sort of heard of the Spice Girls while living in England, and they seemed to be one of any number of pop acts that got airplay at the time. But when I returned to New York, I discovered that they were absolutely exploding in the U.S. and I could not get away from I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want and so on for a spell.

Some stats & info about Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Dance Music, R&B, Acid Jazz, Disco, Trip Hop
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
  • When was Travelling Without Moving released? 1996
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #377 out of 1,000

Jamiroquai’s Travelling Without Moving on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Jamiroquai’s Travelling Without Moving that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

She’s just a cosmic girl, from another galaxy.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.