This is the greatest pop band that America’s never heard of. And what a story!
Picture It: 1990. A British gay club in the middle of nowhere hosting a boyband of five straight lads, absolutely adorable even though their lead singer, Gary Barlow, thinks he’s fat and a bad dancer. Their manager, Nigel Martin-Smith, feels their path to stardom for his manufactured group is through the gays; he’s right because Take That eventually becomes a British phenomenon, unique in singing mostly original material written by Barlow (although they have huge hits with some excellent covers such as “It Only Takes A Minute”, “Relight My Fire” and “Could It Be Magic”). However, after three albums and loads of hits, they finally pierce the American market with “Back For Good” and then…disintegrate. One of their members, Robbie Williams, feeling undervalued, parties with the likes of Oasis, and eventually leaves. Barlow, his head bloated with self-importance, decides to go solo. Things go okay at first, but then his career goes down the kip while Robbie becomes an unlikely megastar.
Barlow hides in his mansion, humiliated by the press, eating his sorrows away; slowly, he begins to write and produce for other artists. In 2006, ten years after the group broke up, Gary feels Take That is ready for a comeback (without Robbie, though). Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past, Gary makes sure that the remaining members – Mark Owen, Jason Orange, and Howard Donald – take part in the songwriting and decision-making, a move that proves not just magnanimous but also artistically fruitful, resulting in the best album of Take That’s career, “Beautiful World”.
The public loves their comeback story and champions their return, taking both their first single, “Patience” and their album to No. 1. Here’s that first, career-resurrecting, single.
Proving it’s no fluke, their second single, a stunning stomper called “Shine”, also hits number one. The album through and through is filled with hit-worthy songs.
To top it all off, they release what proves to be the second biggest hit of their career, “Rule The World” (the first biggest nrinh “Back For Good”). Written for the film “Stardust”, it stays on the U.K. Top 100 for a year and a half.
Finally having learned to appreciate and value his talents and stardom, Barlow kept his ego in check and built upon this re-found success, eventually reconciling with Robbie and welcoming him back into Take That for one album and tour, branching out into TV and generally becoming a national icon.
Peter and I are massive fans of Gary, Robbie and Take That. We’ve seen them in concert together and apart in various configurations a number of times, marveling at their talent and the good feelings they generate. Hopefully the world will return to normal and we’ll get to see them again!