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.

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Music for the Masses 36 – 16 March 2005

Show 36 was the last before the three week Easter break, and would see Music for the Masses in its springtime Wednesday slot for the last time. Actually, it could have even been the last outing of the show, as the post-holiday scheduling shakeup always meant a few shows dropped out. Fortunately – or unfortunately – it lived on to die another day, this week with New Order as the Artist of the Week.

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Show 36: Wed 16 Mar 2005, from 6:05pm-8:00pm

Broadcast on LSR FM, online only. Artist of the week: New Order.

  • Chicane – No Ordinary Morning
  • Veto Silver – Neon Lites
  • Mory Kante – Yeke Yeke (Hardfloor Mix)
  • Sylver – Who Am I?
  • Andy Pickford – Zweifarbig Bomber (Part 2)
  • Télépopmusik – Don’t Look Back
  • New Order – Blue Monday
  • Alizée – Moi… Lolita
  • Ladytron – Seventeen
  • Daft Punk – Robot Rock
  • Vic Twenty – I Sold Your Heart on eBay
  • Black Box Recorder – The Facts of Life
  • Annie – Always Too Late
  • New Order – True Faith
  • Depeche Mode – Only When I Lose Myself
  • Dusted – Always Remember to Honour and Respect Your Mother (Part 2)
  • Basement Jaxx – Good Luck
  • Komputer – Looking Down on London
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android – Marvin
  • New Order – Krafty
  • Lemon Jelly – Come Down on Me
  • Lionrock – Rude Boy Rock

Beginner’s guide to Annie

Norwegian singer Annie has only released a couple of albums, and neither was even that successful outside her home country, but somehow she established herself as one of the best pop singers of the 2000s.

Key moments

Her biggest hits were Chewing Gum and Heartbeat from her debut album Anniemal.

Where to start

Start with Anniemal (2004) and get to know her when she was just starting out.

What to buy

Second album Don’t Stop (2009) is nearly as good as the first, but inexplicably doesn’t include the one-off Anthonio from the same year. Track down both.

Don’t bother with

Do bother with both albums and a few other odd bits. There isn’t anything particular you need to avoid.

Hidden treasure

Definitely track down Anthonio if you haven’t already, and Back Together from 2013’s A&R EP is brilliant too.

For stowaways

Singles chart of the year 2013 for stowaways

Two consecutive years of great new Pet Shop Boys albums has caused a bit of a takeover on the Singles chart of the year, with no fewer than ten entries on the top twenty, and that means there are actually only three different artists in the top ten. So rather than present it in full, we’ll do a bit of selective editing after number ten. First though, here are the top ten:

  1. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Running to the Sea
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct
  3. Pet Shop Boys – Vocal
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Memory of the Future
  5. Pet Shop Boys feat. Example – Thursday
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Axis
  7. Depeche Mode – Heaven
  8. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Ice Machine
  9. Depeche Mode – Soothe My Soul
  10. Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher

And here are some highlights from the rest of the chart:

  • 11. Brian Eno – Fractal Zoom
  • 13. Delerium feat. Michael Logen – Days Turn into Nights
  • 14. Josh Wink – Higher State of Consciousness
  • 17. Little Boots – Motorway
  • 22. Phildel – Storm Song
  • 24. Goldfrapp – Drew
  • 27. The Presets – Ghosts
  • 30. Vanessa Paradis – Love Song
  • 31. Crystal Castles – Affection
  • 33. Annie – A&R EP

Chart for stowaways – 21 September 2013

The singles and albums are both fun this week, so let’s do both. Here are the singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct
  2. Röyksopp – Ice Machine
  3. Goldfrapp – Drew
  4. Annie – A&R EP
  5. Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher

And the albums:

  1. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
  2. Various Artists – Late Night Tales: Röyksopp
  3. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – English Electric
  4. Bent – From the Vaults: 1998-2006
  5. Pet Shop Boys – Electric

That’s a new entry at number 1 for Goldfrapp, who have also invaded the lower reaches of the singles chart this week.

Chart for stowaways – 14 September 2013

We’ve got a new number one! Pet Shop Boys replace themselves at the top!

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct
  2. Röyksopp – Ice Machine
  3. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Future Will Be Silent
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Vocal
  5. Annie – A&R EP
  6. Little Boots – Strangers
  7. Goldfrapp – Drew
  8. Napoleon – It’s Not Good to Masturbate
  9. Front Line Assembly – Ghosts
  10. Moist – Far Beyond the Endless

More next week!

Chart for stowaways – 31 August 2013

Here are this week’s singles:

  1. Pet Shop Boys – Vocal
  2. Moist – Far Beyond the Endless
  3. Röyksopp – Ice Machine
  4. Little Boots – Strangers
  5. Front Line Assembly – Ghosts
  6. Little Boots – Broken Record
  7. Goldfrapp – Drew
  8. Napoleon – It’s Not Good to Masturbate
  9. Annie – A&R EP
  10. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Future WIll Be Silent

More next week!