Richard X – Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1

I’ve very probably mused about the nature of time here before, but the fifteenth anniversary of Richard X‘sPresents His X-Factor Vol. 1 is a pretty strange one to celebrate. He’s still producing artists, but has never bothered to follow this up, but as a collection of great retro soundclashes, it’s really pretty good. What blows my mind now is that some of the things he samples were as old then as the whole album is now.

It opens with the brief Start, in which a voice says “x” a few times, before Liberty X (remember them? They lost The X Factor, or something) turn up to introduce themselves over the introduction to Being Nobody, a soundclash between Ain’t Nobody and The Human League‘s Being Boiled. It’s brilliant in a way that pop seemed to stop being after Richard X‘s brief reign on the charts.

The Human League are probably the omnipresent force on this album, turning up briefly on Rock Jacket alongside a number of other influences and samples. This one’s a filler, though, carrying us along until another guest vocalist turns up.

This is really a who’s who of early 2000s British pop music in some ways, but I had no memory of who Javine was. Apparently she represented the UK at the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing, unsurprisingly, excruciatingly close to the bottom of the table. You Used To is a decent pop song, and who knows, maybe it could have been a huge hit too. Pop music is unpredictable sometimes.

Annie is next, pretty much right at the beginning of her career with the brilliant Just Friends, which is brilliant, and then for IX, a German computer repeatedly spells out Richard X‘s name, which makes a nice little interlude. Then the huge voice of Caron Wheeler, of Soul II Soul fame, turns up for the dull but worthy Lonely.

Deborah Evans-Strickland delivers vocals on the next two tracks, an eccentric posh version of Walk on By, and then Lemon/Lime. Pleasant, but there isn’t a lot of point in these unfortunately. Although some of the lyrics on the second track are pretty funny.

Finest Dreams brings Kelis, and was the third single from this album, peaking at number 8 in the UK. It marries another Human League track The Things That Dreams Are Made Of with The S.O.S. Band‘s 1986 hit The Finest (then fifteen years old), and works very well indeed. In fact, it performed better on the charts than either of the tracks it samples, which is impressive.

The unexpected vocalist on the next track is Tiga, who performs You (Better Let Me Love You X4) Tonight. It’s brilliant, but then most of Tiga‘s work seems to be of an extremely high calibre. It’s just a bit too repetitive though, and as with several of the tracks on here, it drags a little towards the end.

The next track, Mark One, is a moment that anyone who grew up in the 1990s will appreciate, as Mark Goodier turns up to do a very meta in-album advert for this album. It’s a brilliant transition to Sugababes‘ Freak Like Me, sampling Gary Numan and Tubeway Army‘s Are “Friends” Electric? for the backing track. I suspect this might be how the album started out, as Richard X‘s original bootleg version had been a near-hit a couple of years earlier.

Into U is lovely, bringing together a new vocal by Jarvis Cocker with a sample of Hope Sandoval, and some unusually underplayed backing. It makes a great final track, closing out a pretty good album. The actual closing track is the brief End, which is one of the nicer interludes, and then the album is over already.

So in summary, despite a strong cast of extras, Richard X‘s debut may not be the best album ever produced, but it’s pretty good, and it did bring us some of the best pop hits of 2002 and 2003. In short, it’s definitely worth a listen.

You can still find Richard X Presents His X-Factor Vol. 1 on wide release.

Chart for stowaways – 14 July 2018

Let’s have a look at the top albums this week:

  1. The Radiophonic Workshop – Burials in Several Earths
  2. The Future Sound of London – My Kingdom (Re-Imagined)
  3. The Human League – Secrets
  4. Sparks – Hippopotamus
  5. Gorillaz – The Now Now
  6. Goldfrapp – Silver Eye
  7. Jon Hopkins – Singularity
  8. Kylie Minogue – Golden
  9. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  10. Tracey Thorn – Record

NME Awards – 2015-2017

Finally, by the current decade, NME seemed to have regained their taste. Several decades after being obsessed with guitars and the lower reaches of the charts, they finally even decided to associate themselves with acts such as Pet Shop Boys. Let’s complete our journey through the history of their awards, with the last few years.

NME Awards 2015

  • Godlike Genius Award: Suede
  • Best British Band: Kasabian. Also nominated: Alt-J, Arctic Monkeys, Chvrches, Royal Blood, The Libertines
  • Best Album: Kasabian, for 48:13
  • Also nominated: Jamie T, for Carry On The Grudge, La Roux, for Trouble In Paradise, Royal Blood, for Royal Blood, Run The Jewels, for Run The Jewels 2, St Vincent, for St Vincent
  • Best International Band: Foo Fighters. Also nominated: Arcade Fire, Haim, Interpol, Queens Of The Stone Age, Tame Impala
  • Best Live Band: Royal Blood. Also nominated: Arctic Monkeys, Fat White Family, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, The Libertines
  • Best New Band: Royal Blood. Also nominated: Circa Waves, FKA Twigs, Jungle, Slaves, Superfood
  • Best Solo Artist: Jake Bugg. Also nominated: Jack White, Jamie T, La Roux, Lana Del Rey, St Vincent
  • Best Festival: Glastonbury. Also nominated: Bestival, Isle Of Wight Festival, Latitude, Reading & Leeds, T In The Park
  • Best Track: Jamie T, for Zombie. Also nominated: Future Islands, for Seasons (Waiting On You), Jungle, for Busy Earnin, Kasabian, for Eez-Eh, Noel Gallagher, for In The Heat Of The Moment, Royal Blood, for Little Monster
  • Best Video: Jamie T, for Zombie. Also nominated: Fat White Family, for Touch The Leather, FKA Twigs, for Two Weeks, Jungle, for Busy Earnin’, Peace, for Lost On Me, Royal Blood, for Figure It Out
  • Best Music Film: Pulp, for A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets. Also nominated: 20,000 Days On Earth, Finding Fela, Kasabian, for Summer Solstice, Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon, The Possibilities Are Endless
  • Best Film: Northern Soul. Also nominated: Boyhood, Frank, Get On Up, God Help The Girl, The Inbetweeners 2
  • Best TV Show: Game of Thrones. Also nominated: Girls, Foo Fighters, for Sonic Highways, Peaky Blinders, Sherlock, True Detective
  • Best Dancefloor Filler: Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX, for Fancy. Also nominated: Jamie T, for Zombie, Kasabian, for Eez-Eh, Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars, for Uptown Funk, Metronomy, for Love Letters, SBTRKT feat. Ezra Koenig, for New Dorp. New York
  • Worst Band: 5 Seconds of Summer. Also nominated: , Bastille, Blink 182, One Direction, The 1975, U2
  • Villain of the Year: Nigel Farage. Also nominated: Bono, David Cameron, Harry Styles, Russell Brand, Taylor Swift
  • Hero of the Year: Alex Turner. Also nominated: Dave Grohl, Kate Bush, Noel Gallagher, Russell Brand, Taylor Swift
  • Music Moment of the Year: Jamie T‘s comeback. Also nominated: Alex Turner’s Brit Awards speech, Kasabian headline Glastonbury, Kate Bush returns, The Libertines reunite, Nirvana reunite at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
  • Best Fan Community: Muse. Also nominated: Jamie T, Kasabian, La Roux, Peace, Royal Blood
  • Small Festival of the Year: Liverpool Psych Fest. Also nominated: End Of The Road, Festival No. 6, Field Day, The Great Escape, Tramlines
  • Book of the Year: Viv Albertine, for Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
  • Also nominated: Bernard Sumner, for Chapter And Verse, Ian Curtis, Deborah Curtis and Jon Savage, for So This Is Permanence, Jesse Frohman, for Kurt Cobain: The Last Session, John Lydon, for Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, Steve Hanley, for The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall
  • Reissue of the Year: Manic Street Preachers, for The Holy Bible. Also nominated: Led Zeppelin, for Led Zeppelin II, Oasis, for Definitely Maybe, Pixies, for Doolittle, Public Enemy, for It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, Smashing Pumpkins, for Adore
  • Best Band Social Media: Liam Gallagher‘s Twitter. Also nominated: Questlove’s Twitter, Alana Haim’s Twitter, Albert Hammond Jr’s Twitter, Fat White Family’s Facebook, Slaves’ Facebook

NME Awards 2016

  • Godlike Genius Award: Coldplay
  • Best British Band: The Maccabees. Also nominated: The Libertines, Foals, Wolf Alice, The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen
  • Best International Band: Run the Jewels. Also nominated: Tame Impala, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, The Killers, Alabama Shakes
  • Best New Artist: Rat Boy. Also nominated: Hinds, Halsey, Yak, Låpsley, Formation
  • Best British Solo Artist: Charli XCX. Also nominated: Adele, Noel Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Florence Welch, Skepta
  • Best International Solo Artist: Taylor Swift. Also nominated: Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Courtney Barnett, Kanye West, Grimes
  • Best Live Band: Wolf Alice. Also nominated: The Maccabees, The Libertines, Foals, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood
  • Best Album: Foals, for What Went Down. Also nominated: Wolf Alice, for My Love Is Cool, The Maccabees, for Marks to Prove it, Kendrick Lamar, for To Pimp a Butterfly, Tame Impala, for Currents, Grimes, for Art Angels
  • Best Track: Wolf Alice, for Giant Peach. Also nominated: Coldplay, for Adventure of a Lifetime, The Libertines, for Gunga Din, The Weeknd, for I Can’t Feel My Face, Skepta, for Shut Down, Foals, for What Went Down
  • Best TV Show: This is England ’90. Also nominated: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Peep Show, Gogglebox
  • Best Film: Beasts of No Nation. Also nominated: Ex Machina, Spectre, Mad Max: Fury Road, Whiplash, Kill Your Friends
  • Best Music Film: Blur, for New World Towers. Also nominated: Amy, Montage of Heck, Straight Outta Compton, What Happened, Miss Simone, The Reflektor Tapes
  • Best Music Video: Slaves, for Cheer Up London. Also nominated: Rihanna, for Bitch Better Have My Money, The Libertines, for Heart Of The Matter, Wolf Alice, for You’re a Germ, Blur, for Ong Ong, Tame Impala, for The Less I Know The Better
  • Best Actor: Idris Elba. Also nominated: Tom Hardy, Eddie Redmayne, Nicholas Hoult, Stephen Graham, Daniel Radcliffe
  • Best Actress: Vicky McClure. Also nominated: Jennifer Lawrence, Emilia Clarke, Gemma Chan, Amy Schumer, Saoirse Ronan
  • Best Reissue: David Bowie, for Five Years (1969–1973). Also nominated: A Tribe Called Quest, for People’s Instinctive Travels And the Paths Of Rhythm, The Velvet Underground, for Loaded, Rolling Stones, for Sticky Fingers, Tori Amos, for Under The Pink, Faith No More, for Angel Dust
  • Best Book: Patti Smith, for M Train. Also nominated: Grace Jones, for I’ll Never Write My MemoirsElvis Costello, for Unfaithful Music & Disappearing InkCarrie Brownstein, for Hunger Makes Me A Modern GirlProfessor Green, for LuckyTom Jones, for Over The Top And Back
  • Best Festival: Glastonbury. Also nominated: Reading & Leeds, V Festival, T in the Park, Bestival, Isle of Wight
  • Best Small Festival: End of the Road. Also nominated: Sŵn, Festival No. 6, Green Man, Liverpool Sound City, Kendall Calling
  • Music Moment of the Year: The Libertines‘ secret Glastonbury set. Also nominated: The return of AdeleDave Grohl breaks leg and carries on, Florence + The Machine headlines Glastonbury, Kanye at The Brits, One Direction ‘split’
  • Best Fan Community: The Libertines. Also nominated: Hurts, Muse, Catfish and the Bottleman, The 1975, Wolf Alice
  • Worst Band: 5 Seconds of Summer. Also nominated: One Direction, Little Mix, Sleaford Mods, U2, Nickelback
  • Villain of the Year: Donald Trump. Also nominated: David Cameron, Chris Moyles, Kanye West, George Osbourne, Simon Cowell
  • Hero of the Year: Dave Grohl. Also nominated: Adele, Jeremy Corbyn, Florence Welch, Kanye West, Taylor Swift
  • Vlogger of the Year: KSI. Also nominated: Vikkstar123, Charlie McDonnell, Joe Weller, Danisnotonfire, Savannah Brown

NME Awards 2017

  • Godlike Genius Award: Pet Shop Boys
  • Best British Band: Biffy Clyro. Also nominated: Wolf Alice, The 1975, Bastille, Years & Years, The Last Shadow Puppets
  • Best International Band: Metallica. Also nominated: Tame Impala, Kings Of Leon, Green Day, A Tribe Called Quest, Tegan and Sara
  • Best New Artist: Dua Lipa. Also nominated: Blossoms, Zara Larsson, Sunflower Bean, Christine and The Queens, Anderson .Paak
  • Best British Female Artist: M.I.A.. Also nominated: Dua Lipa, Adele, Charli XCX, Kate Tempest, PJ Harvey
  • Best British Male Artist: Skepta. Also nominated: Zayn Malik, Kano, Jamie T, Michael Kiwanuka, Richard Ashcroft
  • Best International Female Artist: Christine and the Queens. Also nominated: Sia, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Solange, Tove Lo
  • Best International Male Artist: Frank Ocean. Also nominated: Kanye West, Drake, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper
  • Best Festival Headliner: Adele. Also nominated: Coldplay, Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Foals, The Stone Roses
  • Best Live Band: The 1975. Also nominated: Bastille, Slaves, Bring Me The Horizon, Christine And The Queens, Wolf Alice
  • Best Album: Bastille, for Wild World. Also nominated: Kanye West, for The Life Of Pablo, Skepta, for Konnichiwa, The 1975, for I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, Radiohead, for A Moon Shaped Pool, Beyoncé, for Lemonade
  • Best Track: Christine and the Queens, for Tilted. Also nominated: Tove Lo, for Cool Girl, Charli XCX, for After The Afterparty, Skepta, for Man, Bastille, for Good Grief, The 1975, for Somebody Else
  • Best TV Show: Fleabag. Also nominated: Stranger Things, Game Of Thrones, Black Mirror, Humans, People Just Do Nothing
  • Best Film: My Scientology Movie. Also nominated: DeadpoolCaptain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, Everybody Wants Some!!, Hunt For The Wilderpeople
  • Best Music Film: Oasis, for Supersonic, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, for One More Time With Feeling, Sing Street, Gimme Danger, The Rolling Stones, for Havana Moon, The Beatles, for Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
  • Best Music Video: Slaves, for Consume or Be Consumed. Also nominated: Kanye West, for Famous, Beyoncé, for Formation, Radiohead, for Burn The Witch, Rat Boy, for Get Over It, Wolf Alice, for Lisbon
  • Best Reissue: Oasis, for Be Here Now. Also nominated: R.E.M., for Out Of Time, Pink Floyd, for Meddle, Michael Jackson, for Off The Wall, DJ Shadow, for Endtroducing, Blur, for Leisure
  • Best Book: Johnny Marr, for Set the Boy Free
  • Best Festival: Glastonbury. Also nominated: Reading & Leeds, Download, Isle Of Wight, Primavera, V Festival
  • Best Small Festival: End of the Road. Also nominated: Y Not, Green Man, Festival No. 6, Kendall Calling, Slam Dunk
  • Music Moment of the Year: Coldplay‘s Viola Beach tribute at Glastonbury. Also nominated: Bring Me The Horizon invade Coldplay’s table at NME Awards 2016, Beyoncé drops Lemonade, Skepta wins Mercury Prize, Pete Doherty plays The Bataclan, The Stone Roses’ first new music in 20 years
  • Worst Band: 5 Seconds of Summer. Also nominated: The Chainsmokers, Clean Bandit, Honey G, Nickelback, Twenty One Pilots
  • Villain of the Year: Nigel Farage. Also nominated: Donald Trump, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Martin Shkreli, Katie Hopkins
  • Hero of the Year: Beyoncé. Also nominated: David Bowie, Adele, Millie Bobby Brown, Gary Lineker, Liam Gallagher
  • Outstanding Contribution to Music: Wiley

See also

Moby – Ambient

Moby‘s early albums are something of a mystery, in general. There’s Moby, or The Story So Far, which collects a few of his early hits including Go. I believe Ambient came after that, fifteen years ago this week in 1993, and so it could loosely be thought of as his second album, and then the compilations Early Underground and Rare: The Collected B-Sides followed later.

I gather Moby has disowned most of these early releases, and for me, this might be a controversial view, but I think Ambient is the only one of these that’s worth spending much time on. That’s not to say there’s anything particularly wrong with the tracks on the others, but I can’t help but feel they might be better enjoyed on obscure underground 12″ white labels, which was, let’s face it, the way they were originally released anyway.

Ambient opens with My Beautiful Blue Sky, a piano and pad piece that will now be very familiar if you’ve heard any of Moby‘s later material (which you have), but it’s punctuated by some brilliant sound effects and a lot of tribal drumming, and so it generally works well. You might have to put to one side for a few minutes the realisation that you have heard this kind of thing many times since on his other tracks, and accept that this was probably the first time he had done anything like this. It’s sweet and gentle, and very pleasant to listen to.

Heaven is a surprise – it’s a soft, repetitive, analogue piece, which goes on for over eight minutes, but is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of music that Moby has ever recorded. Aptly named, and very good indeed. Same for Tongues, although the listening commitment is considerably less.

J Breas brings us the first real taste of Moby‘s interest in the piano as a tool to change the mood, and with a little help from heavy minor chords and softly reverberating pads, this sounds very different to most of the other tracks on here. It does sound a little dated too, although it’s difficult to say exactly why – I wonder whether the sounds are from some of the early 1990s synthesisers that aren’t quite as fashionable these days.

So it continues. Myopia is another excellent, almost beatsy piece (although it doesn’t really have any beats). House of Blue Leaves is a bit of a deviation, standing out both as less ambient than most of the other tracks, and also not nearly as good, but it’s harmless.

The nice thing about the middle section of the album is all the short tracks – Bad Days is a miniature deep, droning piece that only lasts a couple of minutes, then Piano and String is a very short but hard-hitting piece. Sound is short and sweet too, and in about five minutes we’ve passed by three tracks already.

Dog follows a similar vein to Heaven, and is consequently pretty good too. If you were trying to look for ways to criticise it, you might find the high arpeggios just a little bit annoying after a while, but it’s varied enough otherwise for that not to be a problem.

By this point, the album is pretty much over – all that’s left are the softer pieces 80 and Lean on Me, which bring it to a close. As a debut, or at least an early work by Moby, this shows more than just promise. If he had never released anything else, I’d like to think it might be remembered as an excellent collection of laid back music – but he did, and it’s been largely overshadowed. Which is a very great shame.

This album seems to have long-since been deleted, and is not available digitally, but you can still find plenty of second-hand physical copies floating around at places like this one.