I can’t tell you how excited I am today for the release of Robbie Williams’ new album. I can’t tell you because you’ll laugh at this sad, pathetic excuse for a 41 year old man for being a Robbie fan. I can’t help it though, he’s just so good. I attended Knebworth years ago and he was the ultimate showman, his albums all differ in style and whether you like the more experimental stuff, the trashy pop tunes, or the Sinatra covers, he has a song for everyone. I was tasked with giving you my top 5 Robbie singles but I can’t. They vary on a daily basis depending on mood and situation, I could just list every track on Escapology, my favourite album of his, but that would just be cheating I guess. Instead I have gone off-brief and decided the only thing I can do whilst I wait for The Heavy Entertainment Show to drop through my letterbox is to select one track from each studio album. It’s a good excuse for me to get away with just listening to Robbie Williams all day, and also creates a tough task for me as I now have to narrow down Escapology to a single song. So here we go…
Life Thru a Lens (1997)
Life Thru a Lens saw Robbie Williams start to write more personal songs and he teamed up with Guy Chambers who produced the album to leave a glorious pop feel despite Williams’ departure from the manufactured sound of Take That. There is some top tunes on Life Thru a Lens, and some very famous ones. Angels and Let Me Entertain You are probably Robbie’s most played songs of all time but my own personal favourite from the album is the song written about Sam Beckinsale, Baby Girl Window.
I’ve Been Expecting You (1998)
1998’s studio release saw Robbie Williams get both critical and commercial success and lots of journalists who had slated Williams as a one album wonder riding the waves of Take That’s success had to eat much humble pie. It was again an album full of singles and some very well known songs but it is the controversial Jesus in a Camper Van that gets my vote for best song.
Sing When You’re Winning (2000)
The third studio release from Robbie Williams was a slight change in style and sound but lost none of his charm. Another singles heavy release and the first album that is making me actually pick one of those singles for my favourite album track. It’s a duet with a singer I don’t really like but Robbie and Kylie Minogue just seem right as an act and Kids was superb.
Swing When You’re Winning (2001)
In a total change of style Robbie Williams surprised a lot of people with the Sinatra inspired big band album. An album chocked full of duets and some of the best and classiest songs ever released makes picking one track quite a task but there is one stand out and it contains Frank Sinatra himself. It Was a Very Good Year was allowed by the Sinatra estate after one of Frank’s musicians who was recording with Williams played his vocals to the family. It’s a gorgeous song, and it’s a duet with the king of swing.
Here it is, the moment I’ve been dreading. How do you pick a favourite song from an album that you love and consider to not have a weak tune on it? Well, you pinch an idea from the Defective Inspector and put all the titles on a bit of paper, screw them up, and then pick one out of a hat. Turns out that this is my favourite song from Escapology…
Intensive Care (2005)
This release was completely different to anything Robbie had done before. Gone was the golden pen of Guy Chambers and in his place 80’s throwback Stephen ‘Tin Tin’ Duffy to help with writing and production. The first song they wrote together is quite the dance-y sound, and has Williams being God in the video, but Sin Sin Sin is superb.
Rudebox saw multiple producers getting involved in the mix including The Pet Shop Boys and Mark Ronson and, if I’m completely honest, I think it’s the weakest release for that very reason, too many cooks and all that. However there is still some great tunes available for me to pick from and I’m plumping for the Soul Mekanik produced title song.
Reality Killed the Video Star (2009)
I really enjoyed this album. I’m pretty sure it works for me as it has a single producer, Trevor Horn, and that single voice and message seems to work for me with albums. It was Trevor Horn’s past as a musician that lent itself to the title with Williams playing word games with Video Killed the Radio Star that Horn had been involved in. Gone was all the experimentation and back was a more solid and familiar pop style best encapsulated by my choice for song of the album, Bodies.
Take The Crown (2012)
Take the Crown sees Jacknife Lee on production duties and the hatchet buried with past bandmates from Take That. Candy became a huge hit and saw Williams and Gary Barlow sharing songwriting duties and whilst this historical moment is what the album is most remembered for it’s not my song pick. That honour goes to Different.
Swings Both Ways (2013)
The last studio release ahead of The Heavy Entertainment show sees Robbie back with Guy Chambers and with big band swing music. Another album full of duets but with half the tracks being actually penned by Williams rather than the amount of covers that Swing When You’re Winning had seen. There is some glorious compositions and beautiful duets on Swings Both Ways and whilst I don’t hold it in the same high regard as his previous swing album it is still really good. I have to pick one though and let’s be honest if Lily Allen is included you have to go for that one. Dream a Little Dream.
Image - Wikipedia.