Robbie Williams is back with a new album on Monday, and to celebrate the occasion, we’ve had a look back at the musical past of the now twice former Take That man.
He broke millions of hearts when he announced that he’d be leaving Take That to pursue his solo career only for his fans to be left somewhat in the lurch when for a couple of years all he managed to do was have people question his motivation.
His time with Oasis worked out though, as when Life Thru A Lens finally appeared, it drew far more from the fresh and new sounds of Brit-pop than his boy band origins.
A fresh slice of pop that won over both the original Take That fans and a whole new audience who wouldn’t have touched Gary Barlow with a barge pole, it was a smash hit, netting him an instant number one hit and filled with singles like Angels and Let Me Entertain You that launched him into the highest stratospheres of UK music.
Next year’s follow up I’ve Been Expecting You absolutely cemented him at the top of the pop pyramid, refining and improving what had already been an exceptionally strong debut with Millenium and She’s The One he scored his first UK number one singles.
Robbie produced another three albums with writing partner Guy Chambers, scoring number one success with each and all of them selling over 2 million copies in the UK alone.
All was not well though, and by Escapology, the duo’s fifth album together, the magic was clearly gone. The songs felt flat and simply like both parties were simply spinning their wheels until a new bright spark occurred.
The writing was on the wall though, and the two parted ways soon after the albums launch. Unfortunately for Robbie, it all started slowing downhill when he stopped working with the expert lyricist.
While the sales figures for his next album Intensive Care were very strong, the album just didn’t have the same sparkle as his first three, feeling just as flat as the trouble Escapology and not really winning over fans or critics as he took to the writing duties this time with Duran Duran member Stephen Duffy.
Robbie fans didn’t have to wait long for something new though, with Rudebox popping up only a year later and promising something truly different as Robbie tried to break into a dirtier, more electronic style.
It may have gone to number one, but Rudebox was a massive sales failure compared to Robbie’s previous records, backed up by a poor first single in the shape of its title track and very differing reviews, it only just got past the 500,000 mark in the UK.
While Reality Killed The Radio Star tried to right the ship by returning to Robbie’s old trademark ballads, it had the unfortunate reality of being the first Robbie Williams album not to get in at number one on the charts. A dark day indeed when he was reduced to merely second spot in the pecking order.
It was to prove his un-doing though, as the re-birth of Take That had presented to him another chance of hitting the front pages.
While Robbie was brought back into the group with open arms, it wasn’t to last, with him deciding to leave the group again after the groups hideously successful Progress album. That album though was enough for fans, who finally got to hear the five piece band they remembered for the first time in nearly a decade.
It’s been three years since his last album’s release (seemingly the typical amount of time he likes to make everyone wait) and early word surrounding Take The Crown has been far more positive than in previous attempts.
Is it just a case that Robbie does his best work after leaving Take That? We shall have to wait and see if he pulls the same trick another couple of times.
Robbie Williams – Take The Crown is out on Monday November 5th.
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith