This 19-song reminder of the biggest British boy band of all time is also a reminder of what Robbie Williams
was doing before he became hip. More than ten years divide the demise of the original band from the release of Never Forget
, a period during which many people have probably forgotten just how all-pervasive these songs once were. From the opening "Promises" in late 1991 to the farewell "How Deep Is Your Love" in 1996, Take That
racked up 16 hits, including that remarkable run in 1993-1994 that saw them become the first band since the Beatles
to score four consecutive British number ones. Twice! Add a live version of "Pray" (from 1994), a remix of "Relight My Fire," and one previously unreleased number (the closing "Today I've Lost You"), and the only serious problem here is the omission of the band's first-ever single, the non-charting "Do What You Like." So much for the statistics. More intriguing is to actually listen to the music for the first time, again, in more than ten years -- and realize just what perfectly wrought, exquisitely manufactured fluff it was. The Bee Gees
cover is superlative, the Lulu
collaboration is a riot, and -- even at their sappiest -- Take That
so readily eclipse every other boy band of the era (and there were a lot of them around in the 1990s) that it almost seems cruel to continue to refer to them as one. But they were and, for all their sins, a lot of "serious" music fans hated them for it. Now's our chance to find out what we were missing.