Friday, 2 November 2012

Eight letters, three words, one Robbie

When Take That's Progress was released this time two years ago, everybody was raving over the bold new electro route that the group had gone down. It was felt to be the influence of the returning Robbie Williams. Robbie famously quit the band in 1995 and rejoined them four years after Gary, Mark, Howard and Jason had carved out a niche as Britian's biggest pop manband, releasing modern classics such as Patience, Shine and Rule The World. Quite unrecognisable from the cheesy boyband that they used to be, but no less successful. Robbie rejoined them, presumably because he had some unfinished business, and perhaps because his own career had been slowly dwindling since his solo heydey and utter chart domination of the late 90s/early 00s. He was slowly reintroduced to the fold via his Gary Barlow duet Shame, the lead single from his hits album In And Out Of Consciousness. That was a #2 hit and was duly followed a few weeks later by another #2 smash, Take That's The Flood. The Flood was quite unlike the rest of Progress, very anthemic and radio ready and sounding much like the output that the second incarnation of Take That had been putting out for the preceding few years. 

The only other song on Progress that sounded even vaguely like the Take That responsible for Beautiful World and The Circus was the gorgeous album closer Eight Letters, which later went on to close the Progress Live tour. Robbie was apparently the driving force behind the album version of Eight Letters, even though writing credits show all five band members names. Gary sings the album version with the rest of the band on harmonies but Robbie has taken the song back for himself as his solo version of the track features on the deluxe edition of his new album Take The Crown. He sounds just as good on the track as Gary did and for my money it's a timeless song which deserves to be a modern classic in the vein of the aformentioned Take That singles. 

As for the Barlow/Williams partnership, it looks set to be almost as fruitful as the famous songwriting partnership that Robbie used to have with Guy Chambers. The album's lead single, the catchy and cheeky Candy, is set to give the star his first UK #1 single since 2004's Radio. With a projected sale of around 120k, this to go along with his 80k+ opening for 2009 single Bodies and 230k opening for his last studio album, Reality Killed The Video Star, it seems that even a Robbie Williams 'flop' is more successful than any output from 95% of other artists!

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