Friday, November 03, 2006

Rudebox - Robbie Williams

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I doubt that even Robbie himself could have forseen when he started off in Take That that he'd be here in 2006 releasing his 9th solo album. Knowing Robbie's fraglile ego though, if he'd pondered that back in the day he probably would have expected the downright painful reviews that most critics have given Rudebox...but fear not Robbie, I'm not about to join the massed throngs lined up to give this album a good kicking.

For sure, there are some of the worst, or most embarassing, moments in Robbie's career but they sit alongside some of his most edgy and exciting work;

So whilst The 80's may be a wretched attempt at autobiography, The 90's is actually a genuinely affecting piece of work, and tells his story better than any number of Heat expose's ever could.

So whilst you could ponder the point of covering a song called "We're The Pet Shop Boys" and getting it produced by the boys themselves all day, you can also marvel at the icy detachment that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe bring to the superlative She's Madonna.

And whilst you may wonder why Williams had to cover the Human League's Louise (although he has long stated that it's one of his favourite ever tracks), the cover of Lewis Taylor's Lovelight works on every level and has to be his best single in a good few years.

Throw in what I thought was a great single (Rudebox) and some catchy and zeitgiest catching cameo's from Lily Allen (she even brings a certain charm to the ludicrous cover of King Of The Bongo) and you have a pretty great album indeed. Sadly, as suugested before the other half of the songs would make a pretty lame album.

It also amazes me the stick he gets for not sticking to his "hits" formula, but then I get that's the peril of being a "popstar" and whilst it may well be true that the housewives who adore him for Angels may not neccesarily like what they hear here you can sense that Williams is making the album that he want's to make and probably doesn't really care if it's not the huge success his record company is after.

So leave your preconceptions at the door, have a blank CD-R ready to burn the best tracks and you'll find mch to enjoy here. Half borderline genuis, half self-indulgent nonsense it may be, but it's also a telling reminder that there is only one Robbie Williams. And long may it stay that way.

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