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Take That

  • Take That And Party,
  • Everything Changes,
  • Nobody Else,
  • Beautiful World,
  • The Circus,
  • Progress,
  • III,

  • Album Reviews |

    Take That

    beautiful world the circus everything changes never forget take that and party

    Take That And Party 5 ( 1992 )
    I Found Heaven / Once You've Tasted Love / It Only Takes A Minute / Million Love Songs / Satisfied / I Can Make It / Do What You Like / Promise / Why Can't I Wake Up With You / Never Want To Let You Go / Give Good Feeling / Could It Be Magic / Take That And Party

    The BBC described Take That as the most succesful British band since The Beatles. I'll let you think on that for a moment. The band originated in Manchester circa 1990 and were initially seen as the UKs answer to New Kids On The Block. Thankfully for everyone involved, that clearly wasn't the case. They have, for their crimes, spawned almost every British boy-band that's appeared since but there was one important difference with Take That. The difference was Gary Barlow, a slightly chubby uncool looking fella, but he could pen a tune or two. The likes of 'A Million Love Songs' would even gain credit from the more alternative and credible media, such as N.M.E. A good tune is a good tune and even in this day and age, can still win through. Gary apparently wrote it when he was a mere fifteen years old. A dance-pop band, and it's the dance tunes that have dated here. Still, more on that later. A word concerning Robbie Williams, i've taken this from Wikipedia. It reveals quite a lot about Robbie, even at this early stage in his career.... The mother of failed Manchester United trialee Robbie Williams read Martin-Smith's advert in Stoke on Trent, and so urged the recently failed salesman to try. Williams applied and annoyed Martin-Smith from his first audition, but Martin-Smith recognised the talent and signed Williams.... . Thanks then manager of Take That. I never knew he was the last to join the band, although I clearly knew he was the first to leave. Bye, bye Robbie, bye bye. Oh, Nigel Martin-Smith, impressiario, initially had the band work gay clubs up and down the land. None of the band were from stage-school, so whilst the former isn't at all surprising, the latter is quite different to these days of 100% manufactured bands with performers cherry picked, likely via a TV talent show.

    A list of album credits, briefly Gary Barlow - Vocals / Songwriting, Robbie Williams - Vocals, Jason Orange - Vocals, Mark Owen - Vocals, Howard Donald - Vocals, Duncan Bridgeman - Producer, Robin Sellars - Engineer, Nigel Stock - Arranger, Pete Hammond - DJ, Ian Levine - Co-Producer, Billy Griffin - Co-Producer. Is that the same Stock as in Stock Aitken and Waterman?? If so, good god. They didn't need a DJ and the only band member with writing credits outside of the covers was of course Gary Barlow. No surprises there. What is a surprise is not that this album is any kind of lost classic, it's not. It's mediocre pop. However, a few moments do shine through the mire. The singles are all decent. The Barry Manilow cover 'Could It Be Magic', a disco flavoured recording. The soul influenced 'I Found Heaven', another song to touch upon disco, actually. 'It Only Takes A Minute', a tune for which the dance-beats have dated very badly, but the pure pop spirit still wins through. So, three decent pop singles there, but if the band didn't have anything else in the locker, we'd have long forgotten them. So? Well, 'A Million Love Songs', of course. Surprisingly deep backing vocals, a stupendous arrangement opening with twirling trumpet. Gary opens his gob and cliched lyrics come out, but the song is almost about writing cliched lyrics. It's called 'A Million Love Songs', after all. These days, Simon Cowel and the like would find it hard to even buy a new song this good, let alone have a little chap in their boy-band capable of writing one. It's easy to imagine a great, big voiced soul singer covering the song, proper gospel style and letting rip. The rest of the album is pretty forgettable though, the dance tunes sounding especially trite and insipid, especially when an otherwise acceptable tune is ruined by some studio guy thinking he's The Prodigy. Not appropriate, leave that kind of thing at home please.

    PS : Oh, if you're a fan of the band and disliking my 5/10, i'm not going to rag on all the bands albums, although none will get more than around 8/10. More was to come though, you know that. Were they The Beatles? No. Yet, their comeback has charmed even a bitter old indie fellow like myself, so be patient my friends.

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    Everything Changes( 1993 )
    Everything Changes / Pray / Wasting My Time / Relight My Fire / Love Aint Here Anymore / If This Is Love / Whatever You Do To Me / Meaning Of Love / Why Can't I Wake Up With You / You Are The One / Another Crack In My Heart / Broken Your Heart / Babe

    Gary Barlow wrote 11 of the 13 songs here. The exceptions were 'Relight My Fire', a cover duetted with Lulu and the Howard Donald ( he of the dirty looking hair ) co-penned 'If This Is Love' with the albums co-producer, one Dave James. Gary Barlow himself was the albums other producer. So, it's hard to squarely lay the blame at one or the other for the albums sterile, soul-pop apeing sound. Perhaps the only benefit of such shiny production is that Robbie Williams lead vocal on the title track is very nearly buried beneath the instrumention. Still, nice trumpet and all. Howard doesn't quite do himself justice on 'If This Is Love' and the two 'Heart' songs right next to each other are very nearly unlistenable. So far, so bad then? Luckily, the rest of the album shows signs of huge improvement in the band, notably from ( that man again ) Gary Barlow. Often voted least cool man on the planet in school-classrooms throughout the 90s, no one ever doubted his writing ability. Well, not until Robbie became president elect of the entire United Kingdom via a few weak Oasis rip-offs anyway. Still, I remember we all had to daily kiss posters of Robbie Williams laid out in bus-shelters the country over and then sing a rendition of 'Angels' 3pm Christmas Day.... Anyway, Mark Owen provides the best non-gary vocal with 'Babe'. It's a strange construction, actually. Genuinely great for the last minute or so. Backing vocals suddenly take on an innovative feel and a heavy metal guitar implausibly sits ( very ) quietly in the mix. It's there, nonetheless. 'Whatever You Do To Me' is an album gem those who merely invest in a Take That Best Of are missing out on. A sterling piece of pop music, laced with tasty motown-soul influences courtesy of Barlow. The grin-inducing Bronski Beat styled falsetto is entertaining too, even though it was clearly a sop at the groups gay following.

    Another highlight? Yeah, and this one was also a single release. 'Why Can't I Wake Up With You' is a dreamily rendered quiet soul ballad of the highest calibre. The music lacks any kind of organic or natural feel at all, but you can tell there's a strong beating heart within the song itself. Another fine single worthy of note is 'Love Aint Here Anymore', a typical Barlow by numbers teen tear-duct tugging ballad. Still, he'd gotten so confident with himself by now that Barlow by-numbers tunes were beating the professional boy-band writers hands down. Take That having such a writer in their own ranks was always going to be an advantage when the group tried to appeal beyond their set fan-base of teenage girls.

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    Nobody Else 6 ( 1995 )
    Sure / Back For Good / Every Guy / Sunday To Saturday / Nobody Else / Never Forget / Hanging Onto Your Love / Holding Back The Tears / Hate It / Lady Tonight / The Day After Tomorrow

    A Sgt Peppers apeing sleeve was a move intended to tell people, ‘hey, we’re selling Beatles-like quantities of records’. For all of this, ‘Nobody Else’ fails to be the intended slam dunk. Robbie had left and cracks were appearing in the public togetherness of Take That. The other four carried on to promote ‘Nobody Else’ and with the almost universal lauding of the Gary Barlow composition ‘Back For Good’, all appeared well. Within months, the band would officially announce they were to split, a greatest hits album appeared and a superb version of The Bee Gees ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ as a farewell single. Their harmonies had never sounded better. It’s a shame elements of ‘Nobody Else’ revert to boy-band type. It’s no stronger than any of their other albums bar the obvious quality of the two main singles, so we’ll discuss these for a moment.

    ‘Back For Good’ hit top ten in America, some mean feat for a British boy-band. The band debuted the song at that years Brit Awards and even people that didn’t like Take That had to admit ‘Back For Good’ was an excellent song. It’s superbly crafted in an old fashioned pop-song sense. It’s got a distinctive introduction, the chorus isn’t too long to wait for and the song has a proper finish. The words ‘Back For Good’ are repeated just often enough and the vocals are top-notch professionalism. Gary writes an excellent middle eight, too. ‘Never Forget’, childrens choir segments apart, is just a strong soulful uptempo single, Gary reaching into his Motown influences, perhaps? Howard sings the tune and sings it well.

    Those two songs are all I really want to discuss. Why? Well, for all the earnest ballads that make up the bulk of this album, none of them standout. The Backstreet Boys or N-Sync stylings of ‘Every Guy’ is hideous and certainly the worst moment here. That stands-out, but that’s unfortunate. The three singles ( ‘Sure’ included ) are the best things here. Oh, a final word for another song, ‘Day After Tomorrow’ I really shouldn’t like, it’s so dreary and wet, yet the vocal is genuinely affecting and it’s a moody song that tugs at the heartstrings.

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    Beautiful World( 2006 )
    Reach Out / Patience / Beautiful World / Hold On / Like I Never Loved You At All / Shine / I'd Wait For Life / Ain't No Sense In Love / What You Believe In / Mancunian Way / Wooden Boat

    A stream of singles, some very good indeed ( eg, 'Back For Good' ) gave Take That their place in history. Now they're back, what do they have to offer? Gary Barlow, always the leader, allows the other now more mature yet still variable ( talent-wise ) members to have their say in this comeback from the lads. The steady stream of Pop Idol acts and Louis Walsh managed boy-bands haven't replaced the Take That guys. Well, since when did Westlife write a song? Not really the point, even assuming they have one, of their act. Take That were different in the fact they could barely play with the exception of Gary, have differing yet character filled voices, yet made the best of their modest gifts. Each of the band members have their Ringo moments and Gary contributes his usual mix of solid songwriting incorporating good singles and the odd moment of apparent dullness. Well, some things never change. The obvious omission of Robbie Williams from the ranks is nothing but welcome, his gurning features and hideous boorish vocals simply would have sounded out of place here, by the way. So, taking no chances, Take That enlist the services of producer John Shanks, who also gains quite a few co-writing credits to help shape the songs. When it works, it works surprisingly, spectactularly well. Let's take current number one, the Mark Owen penned 'Shine'. Full of ELO-isms, it demonstrates a new side to the band. Very rock flavoured and full of accomplished backing vocals, it's an excellent song and would be whoever it was by, so less of your snobbery, you at the back. Mark also gets to sing another ELO moment, more of a power ballad this one, yet 'What You Believe In' convinces through repeated-plays.

    Third single slated for release 'Reach Out' opens the album and is enough to please both long-term, now thirty-something fans and a potential new audience. Guitar driven power pop with a lucious, memorable stadium filling anthem of a chorus. It's so uplifting in its message some may reach for the sick bags or alternately the horror movies to get a little needed darkness in their lives after listening to it, but mostly it's superb. Comeback single 'Patience' is arguably even better than 'Back For Good', not bad for a comeback and also reason why the likes of All Saints have failed to make convincing comebacks. You need to return with the material of your lives to stand a chance. Take That have done just such a thing and it's good to hear. The title track is a mature take on the guys boy-band legacy with a surprisingly strong chorus. The album takes a lull then until 'Shine' gets it back on track. The typical Barlow ballad 'I'd Wait For Life' wont be to everybodies tastes, but it's undeniably strong actual material. A couple more bland moments, 'Mancuian Way' does nothing for me until we reach the debut lead vocal ever of Jason Orange. Oh, the horror! Well, actually not. A proper, acoustic folky song and his voice is absolutely fitting for it. Make of that what you will. It's a welcome change in sound and mood and closes the album sufficiently well.

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    From Chris Jones futureproof381@hotmail.com
    This album is basically comeback single Patience,several pale retreads of Patience and mad ELO-pastiche Shine.two good tracks isn't bad for someone like Take That is 'spose.
    From Jackie J Ireland
    Beautiful world is one of the best albums i have ever bought. There is a good mix of songs from the mellow Like I never Loved you to the bubbly Shine. On this album Gary takes the lead on Reach out, Patience, Like i never loved you, I'd wait for life, Aint no sense in love and the bonus track Butterfly. Mark Owen sings Hold on, a very beautiful song which can relate to his other solo Take That tunes 'Babe' He belts out the much loved Shine and is respnsable for What you believe in. Howard sings Beautiful World- the title track and Mancunian way- a tribute to the origins of Take That. Jay gets his first solo in the moving Wooden boat. He also plays guitar for it. This is a great album and is more approachable for new fans who like the more ballad type songs. It picks up from where the boys left of Back For good, How deep is your love?

    top of page The Circus 7 ( 2008 )
    The Garden / Greatest Day / Hello / Said It All / Julie / The Circus / How Did It Come To This / Up All Night / What Is Love / You / Hold Up A Light / Here

    Take That continue their remarkably succesful comeback with 'The Circus', which is very much a continuation of their newly mature sound. Nothing is quite as good as 'Patience' but we can forgive them. Who would have thought that the same band ( minus Robbie, of course ) that made 'Take That And Party' would be releasing sensible, Beatles-influenced pop/rock sixteen years down the line? Yes, sensible is the word as I find a Take That with co-producers, pro-tools and co-writers assembling a carefully calculated set designed to make even Howard and even the other one sound good. Gary inevitably pens the lead single, 'Greatest Day' which for all its earnesness somehow manages not to be as great as 'Rule The World', 'Shine', 'Pray', 'Back For Good', 'Patience', etc, etc. You get the point i'm making, this is rather too much Gary Barlow by numbers for my liking. Far, far better is the Mark Owen sung 'Up All Night', which like 'Shine' from 'Beautiful World' acts as the ELO/Beatles upbeat number. He tries this same trick twice during 'The Circus', with 'Hello' being another attempted 'Shine', only this time the long sentences during the verses come across a little clumsily.

    'You' gets my vote. What a great mid-tempo ballad and that's something i've probably never written anywhere else on this site. I like the guitar lines which remind me a little of George Harrison. The song has simple sentiments, is very well arranged and deserves a chance to be a less obvious kind of Take That hit single. Other than that, 'The Garden' probably will be a hit single, it's the kind of rousing Take That song that we all enjoy. All? Well, they've just broken records for both album and gig sales in the UK. Make of that what you will.

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    Progress( 2010 )
    The Flood / SOS / Wait / Kidz / Pretty Things / Happy Now / Underground Machine / What Do You Want From Me / Affirmation / Eight Letters

    Stuart Price has worked with New Order, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Missy Elliott, Scissor Sisters, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys, Brandon Flowers, Gwen Stefani, Seal, Keane and now Take That. Stuart Price therefore has been partly responsible for some of my very least favourite music, 'All The Lovers' by Kylie excepted, of course. Hailed as a brave new sound for the boys, 'Progress' is actually just three quarters Robbie Williams and one-quarter Take That. Well, 7 of the songs feature prominent Robbie Williams vocals although we presume Gary is still strongly involved in the song-writing, Robbie of course being merely a lyricist rather than an actual musician. Gary gets a couple of lead vocals, that's all and writes almost no ballads at all, a deliberate shift in emphasis for the group. The one out and out ballad here is 'Eight Letters' but Stuart Price sees fit to place effects on both the Piano and vocals and also includes faint electro beats - how excitingly modern! You know, if I listen to Take That I want a Take That album, not a Robbie Williams album produced and co-written (no doubt) by Stuart Price, featuring Jason, Mark and Howard on backing-vocals.

    We open with 'The Flood', the most traditional slice of Take That the album offers up therefore making more sense here than released as a single, 'SOS' meanwhile plunges us all straight into the new Take That sound. This is an electro party track with energetic vocals and, wait for it, pumping beats. Mark and Robbie share lead vocals, Mark getting the lions share. A possible future single, this is the upbeat Mark showcase we've become used to since Take That reformed back in 2006. Well, ignoring the dance beats etc, it is. As the album progresses onwards with few lows yet no real highs either one starts to become irritated by the constant electro/dance blanket Price tries to swap anything resembling a tune with. You start to think of Take That resembling a hetro-sexual Scissor Sisters, never a nice thought I would suggest. 'Happy Now' will probably be released as a single, Jason Orange singing the hidden bonus track probably won't which is a shame as I really like this spooky, melancholic slice of electro balladry.

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    From Peter Steward Norwich
    Take That should stick with what they are good at and what established them i.e tuneful pop and big ballads. This is a pale imitation - second rate cod Bee Gees style and highly disappointing.

    top of page III( 2014 )
    These Days / Let in the Sun / If You Want It / Lovelife / Portrait / Higher than Higher / I Like It / Give You My Love / Freeze / Into the Wild / Flaws / Get Ready for It / Shanks

    We have good news first of all, Robbie Williams doesn't appear on this new Take That album. The bad news however is the group are down to a trio (hence the album title) as Jason Orange has decided to sit this one out as well. Jason, often considered by practically everybody as the least important member of Take That, soon makes his absence felt as the opening couple of songs play out. Take That (not as a five piece, or now as a three piece, but as a four piece!) were capable of often quite stirring and impressive vocal harmonies. With only three band members, whether the absence of Orange is key or the lack of the extra band member, the harmonies often fall apart. They now sound ordinary and lacking in the ability to hit a listener in the heart, whether 'Back For Good', Bee Gees cover version, or yet another Barlow penned weepie. As for the musical sound of 'III', Take That continue to try to keep up with the modern chart trends, employing a number of electronic production tricks - so much so - I thought I was listening to 'Ghost Stories' by Coldplay for a moment. Pro-tools no doubt blinked away in the studio and auto-pitch correction on the vocals certainly did - all the lead vocals have that certain... what's the word... flatness and weird alieness about them.

    Apparently, Gary, Howard and Mark went into the studio and were feeling melancholy and downbeat. They left the studio and came back a few weeks later and embarked on the serious work towards putting together their seventh UK number one album, 'III'. The results are that we could have used a little melancholy here and there, an entire album of upbeat dance-pop hitters becomes more than trying after listening to three or four songs in a row. True, lead single and UK number one 'These Days' is largely upto the quality of the best Take That singles, but almost nothing else on the entire record is. I mentioned Colplay? 'Into The Wire' sang by Mark, at the tail-end of the song, even fits in a little stadium pleasing AOR guitar line. The entire rest of the song is, of course, upbeat, up-tempo, dance-pop. The penultimate song on the set 'Flaws' is an interesting composition and something of a power-ballad with a potential choir of gospel backing singers no doubt fleshing it out live. Although far too bombastic in sound, 'Flaws' at least songs heartfelt. Second track in 'Let In The Sun' again featuring vocals sounding very unatural with all the production flattening and pitch-correction. A shame, as this has as good a pop chorus as much of the best of what has been in the single chart 2014/2015.

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    this page last updated 20/09/15

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