Retro chart for stowaways – 9 September 2006

Here are the top albums from twelve years ago this week:

  1. Tiga – Sexor
  2. Hot Chip – The Warning
  3. Massive Attack – Collected
  4. Pet Shop Boys – Fundamental
  5. Röyksopp – The Understanding
  6. I Monster – Neveroddoreven
  7. Laurie Mayer – Black Lining
  8. Fatboy Slim – Why Try Harder: The Greatest Hits
  9. Vic Twenty – Electrostalinist
  10. Madonna – Confessions on a Dance Floor
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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 – 2 June 2018

Here’s the latest album chart:

  1. The Radiophonic Workshop – Burials in Several Earths
  2. The Human League – Secrets
  3. Tracey Thorn – Record
  4. Sparks – Hippopotamus
  5. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Punishment of Luxury
  6. Chvrches – Love Is Dead
  7. Kylie Minogue – Golden
  8. Jon Hopkins – Singularity
  9. David Bowie – Legacy
  10. Tiga – Sexor

Tiga – Sexor

There are times when reviewing things as they hit particular anniversaries can be a little depressing, and so it is with Tiga‘s debut album Sexor, which first appeared a decade ago this week.

After a short introduction with Welcome to Planet Sexor, proceedings kick off in fine form with the excellent single (Far from) Home. It’s short, sweet, and an entirely excellent song,  with a memorable video too. Every summer compilation should include it.

You Gonna Want Me brings a great backing vocal from Jake Shears, of Scissor Sisters fame, which given Tiga‘s track record up to this point makes for a slightly surprising collaboration, but the results are entirely brilliant, with the slightly acidic backing track and clever vocal play-offs.

High School is great too, with an enormous 1980s-style pad breakdown a minute or so in. I’ve no idea what he’s singing about here (something about running for miles and miles), but it’s catchy and inventive, and difficult to fault.

The spoken word interludes are the odd side of this album – on the first, Jamaican BoaTiga gets a call from a friend asking to accompany him on a trip to a pet shop to look at snakes. This leads us into Louder Than a Bomb, a remix of a 1988 Public Enemy track, which adds lots of harsh electronics and bleeps.

Pleasure from the Bass is next, also a single, in which Tiga plays his own vocals against acid bass sounds and crisp drums. There isn’t a lot else here, so if you’re looking for something soft and beautiful, this is the wrong place to look, but it’s compelling and pretty great nonetheless.

A curious little piece called Who’s That? follows, guiding us steadily towards the softer Down in It, a cover of a Nine Inch Nails song from 1989, presumably with rather more synth woodblock than the original. Tiga may not be the most amazing singer, but he’s more than good enough for this song, which works extremely well.

The Ballad of Sexor is an interesting piece of songwriting with some particularly odd lyrics, but in general it works pretty well. Tiga‘s obvious love of the 1980s has left him with strong melody writing abilities, and this is played off nicely here against the minimal dance synth sounds.

The longer Good as Gold follows, taking us into darker territory before another short interlude, Flexible Skulls, and then the Speed of Sexor reprise of (Far from) Home, a meatier version of the earlier song which unfortunately cuts out pretty much all of the melody, making it not quite as satisfying.

The acid house version of Burning Down the House which follows is much more like it. This song with this backing track make for an unlikely pairing, but it works really well. It leads into the lively 3 Weeks, and then another great song in the form of Brothers. Here, it sounds as though Tiga is singing about his own relationship with his brother, which leaves us with a sweet, catchy song. All the way through, the grimy electro noises in the background continue, making for a compelling combination.

Sir Sir Sir belongs very firmly in the late 1980s, but as we now know that definitely isn’t a bad thing. It’s an excellent song, which closes out a great album perfectly. Well, almost closes it out – there’s a little room right at the end for what I think is called 8455584 Mommy, an answerphone message from Tiga‘s mother, who if this message is to be believed, is particularly soppy.

Sexor was a very promising debut, which a couple of years ago would lead to the more consistent but ultimately less satisfying Ciao! (2009) and then a very long bout of silence on the album front. Hopefully he’ll be back soon, and hopefully whatever he delivers will be at least as good as this.

You can still find Sexor at regular retailers. Try to find the double CD version, if it’s available in your part of the world.

Retro chart for stowaways – 3 February 2007

The top ten singles from nine years ago:

  1. Client – Lights Go Out
  2. Eric Prydz vs. Floyd – Proper Education
  3. Depeche Mode – Martyr
  4. Sohodolls – No Regrets
  5. Girls Aloud – I Think We’re Alone Now
  6. Schmoof – Chocolate Boyfriend
  7. Pet Shop Boys – Numb
  8. Bent – To Be Loved
  9. Tiga – (Far from) Home
  10. Girls Aloud – Something Kinda Oooh

Retro chart for stowaways – 30 September 2006

While I’m on the road, here’s the chart from this week nine years ago:

  1. Goldfrapp – Satin Boys, Flaming Chic
  2. Conjure One – Face the Music
  3. X-Press 2 – Kill 100
  4. Hot Chip – Boy from School
  5. Tiga – (Far from) Home
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Minimal
  7. Röyksopp – Beautiful Day without You
  8. Hot Chip – Over and Over
  9. Basement Jaxx – Hush Boy
  10. Madonna – Get Together