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Richard X presents his X Factor (Volume One)


Review: Jack Foley

RICHARD X is the producing supremo who really helped to put The Sugababes and Liberty X on the pop map.

Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing is probably a mute point; but the X Factor certainly helped to bring Sugababes to the XFM crowd (it made the alternative radio station's playlist), while also serving to deliver the girl band one of their biggest, and most universally-friendly hits to date.

And yet the formula for success seems fairly simple - take an 80s classic, especially if it contains the electro-pop sound of the moment, add some R'n'B (another popular music genre at the moment) and bring in an emerging pop star to lend it a contemporary feel.

Stripped bare, Freak Like Me is nothing more than a Gary Numan sample, spliced with an Adina Howard tune, made all the more sassy with the honeysweet vocals of the Sugababes, while Being Nobody repeated the trick, this time using Liberty X and fusing the Human League with Chaka Khan.

The result is most certainly mainstream-based, but nowhere near as cheesy, or as depressing, as the thought of it might seem.

Take his latest single, Finest Dreams, which uses the R&B vocals of Kelis to suitably sultry effect, or the equally lively You Used To, featuring Javine, which actually makes pop worth listening to, for a change.

Maybe it's the fusion of current chart trends with something the more discerning listener can have fun with picking out that makes the X Factor so compulsive, but there is an undeniable allure to it, which transcends the genre it could so easily have been discarded in.

Other highlights on the long-player include the forceful Just Friends, which pokes fun at the current state of the dating game, featuring Norwegian chanteuse Annie, or the simple but effective Walk On By makeover, which features Flying Lizards singer, Deborah Evans-Stickland performing a droll spoken cover of the lyrics.

In concept, it really shouldn't work; but it does.

Hell, even Jarvis Cocker sounds terrific, while lending his trademark offbeat vocals to Mazzy Star's memorable Fade Into You.

Of course, by opting to hang out in the cash-friendly sanctuary of the pop world, Richard X never comes close to the brilliance of, say, William Orbit or Fatboy Slim, but, as the new kid on the block, he certainly makes you sit up and take notice - and you won't mind if you find yourself dancing to it.

For now, X most definitely marks the spot.

Track listing:
1. Start
2. Being Nobody
3. Rock Jacket
4. You Used To
5. Just Friends
6. IX
7. Lonely
8. Walk On By
9. Lemon/Lime
10. Finest Dreams
11. You (Better Let Me Love You X 4) Tonight
12. Mark One
13. Freak Like Me (We Don't Give A Damn Mix)
14. Into You
15. End

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