Ever since Benny Benassi made his unique dirty-electric bass sound the "in" thing with his 2002 hit "Satisfaction", there have been countless ripoffs that try to replicate and achieve the same success as Benassi himself. One such group is the Royal Gigolos, named after sexual deviants who...happen to be, um, royalty. Now, while just stealing the sound of Benny Benassi and making it their own is a cruel enough crime in its own right, they take it one step further by performing the ultimate cruel activity to music: taking a classic song, and LITERALLY chopping it up. While I'm usually tolerant of cheesy dance music, I simply cannot condone "the chop". Sometimes electronic music artists take old songs and "technify" them, and actually succeed in creating a decent product. Royal Gigolos is not one of them.
The album starts out with an introductory tune which sounds like some old 45 vinyl from the 1940s, with its whimsical nature and piano accompaniment. An unknown man sings of how he's just a gigolo and how he "ain't got nobody". This introduction would be great except that the style has nothing to do with the rest of the album... an inconsistency, I say! But I suppose it's forgivable... unlike the next track, No Milk Today, which is a very low-quality production which uses the now infamous commercial formula: take an old song (in this case, "No Milk Today" by Herman's Hermits), add a bassline that mirrors that of Benny Benassi's 2002 club hit "Satisfaction", and then chop a sample from the old song and place it over the bass to match the beat. There is very little creativity from the production team here, and it is shown both through the content of this song alone, and also by the fact that this is the EXACT same formula as their previous hit, "California Dreamin'" which I will attend to eventually. The two songs sound far too similar, and both are rubbish anyway.
The roots of Self Control are set squarely within the realm of 80s vocalist Laura Branigan, who sang on the international superhit "Self Control" in 1984. This song has a very strong italo-disco feel, gracefully doing away with the formula of "No Milk Today" in favour of a more house-style groove, and is a marked improvement for the Royal Gigolos' discography. An electric guitar sample also helps boost this song above its predecessor. It later became a Royal Gigolos single in 2005, as did the next track, which uses a sample of Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me (which, consequently, is the name of the song here as well). Sadly, they use the chop/Benassi formula here too, and so all I can say about this track is that it's an utter disappointment. Why must they chop samples? Do they think it makes them seem cool and edgy? I have news for you guys: it doesn't. But they didn't learn from their first mistake, which is the succeding song: California Dreamin', which yoinks a sample from the same song by The Mamas and the Papas. This was the first Royal Gigolos single, and the one that began their series of chopping and tastelessly excessive Benassi-bass usage. It's trash, plain and simple. How it became so popular is a mystery to me. The clubbing public must be given the shifty-eyed look! *does so* And the Royal Gigolos never give up -- Happy Song follows the same formula. Crap! This is NOT the happy song I was seeking; it's just the same chop'n'bass that I've come to loathe. Avoid this cheesefest at all costs.
The remainder of the album doesn't exact shout "creative juices were flowing like the gentle stream" either. Set Me Free is a cluttered track that sounds like a result of a clash between two new wave bands from the 80s -- in other words, Duran Duran and Falco's love child. And of course, 80s female vocals accompany it. It wouldn't be too out of place in a club a couple of decades ago, but now, it just doesn't hit any particular trend on the head. The next track, Screamin' Gigolos, also sounds partially outdated, though not as much. It's a slightly corny mix of any dance song from 1997 and the Benassi-bass that has already been beaten like a dead horse. Nothing spectacular, but nothing beyond horrific either. But the Benassi-bass never dies, as shown in I've Got, a track that, during its climactic chorus, is a bit more frantic than in previous displays. The vocals are reminiscent of mid-90s dance music (which I at one time adored, but have come to realize its unfortunate general hollow shortcomings), but at least they fit the jumpy mood of the song. But again, sound variety wouldn't kill these guys...
The DJ is very monotonous. That pretty much sums it up. Aside from a humorous sample somewhere around the 2:42 mark where some fellow says, "It's my house, and if you don't like it, get the f*** out!" ...then general monotony returns and I skip to some other song. In this case, it might be the next track. Live @ Brooklyn sounds very much like a live recording, with a subtle crowd backing it up. It ends up being a latin house track though, or perhaps just a fake saxophone sample being repeated over a house beat and mild crowd amalgamation. That's...wonderful, isn't it. And finally, there's Funky, which actually does keep my interest for no apparent reason. It's just an average dance track that can be used to get various body parts flopping around at a decent rate. The album closes with alternate versions of "No Milk Today" and "California Dreamin'", both of which are of similar caliber as the other versions -- which is not good.
All in all, this is a rather drab and unimpressive release. They seem to follow a distinct template when creating "hit" tracks, and when they try to stray even a little bit from that template, boring music is the unfortunate result. Their latest track, "Tell It To My Heart", released in 2006, has been pointing them farther away from the horrible song production formula that makes me cringe so things are indeed looking up. The Benassi-bass is still there, but not used in the same capacity as on this album, so all is not lost. There's also another album supposedly coming in 2007, but if it follows the same pattern as this one, they shall be doomed to obscurity, and with good reason.