Ah the irony, for an album cobbled together from large chunks of other people’s records Richard X‘s record company sure aren’t taking any chances that the filthy bootleggers could have their wicked way here. With copy protection stamped all over the CD it was only on the third attempt that could find a machine that would play the thing.
Since the first Girls on Top 7″ appeared a couple of years ago, with its at the time pretty unique blending of Whitney Houston, Kraftwerk, TLC and The Human League, Richard X has been strongly tipped to be the bootlegger most likely to cross over to the mainstream. When a re-worked version of the second ‘Girls on Top’ record, featuring the Sugababes wailing over an old Gary Numan instrumental gatecrashed the top end of the charts last year, the transition from renegade to pop star was almost complete.
A collaboration with Liberty X swiftly followed, a shotgun wedding between Chaka Khan and The Human League, and likewise soon made itself at home at the top end of the charts. From bedroom maverick to internationally fêted producer in the space of a year or two and just on the back of a few well chosen instrumentals and a capellas is quite some trick, even more so actually to go on to produce a great pop album.
The real trick here is the tightrope walk he maintains between leftfield underground credibility and outright pop, not easy when you’re working with a band that came second to Hear’say but when it works it’s great. The 31st century R’n’B of After All with Kelis, or You (Better Let Me Love You X4) Tonight with Electroclash icon Tiga, that could do serious damage to most right thinking dance floors and the gorgeous collaboration with Jarvis Cocker at the end of the album closes things off perfectly.
Not a perfect album by any means, those looking for rawer bootleg thrills would be better off spending a few hours downloading the myriad efforts available on most file sharing networks, but if you’re looking for an intelligent pure pop album then there won’t be many to beat X Factor this year.