Robbie Williams is unquestionably the biggest male British popstar of the past ten years. Since his debut single released in 1996, he has consistently made top chart hits with six (including this) UK No.1 albums and six UK No.1 singles. His studio albums are guaranteed multi-million sellers whilst his live shows sell out in a matter of minutes. He is an entertainer in the traditional sense of the word, and America, boys and girls, is missing out big time! Mr. Williams has tried more than once to crack the States and failed, but luckily for us Brits he's returned again to reclaim his UK King of Pop crown. Basically, the man is a national treasure and after millions of column inches of tabloid-fodder, the music has always shone through.
Robbie's debut album "Life Thru A Lens" did nothing for months and months in the charts, and then it stormed up the charts in 1998 when one song was released: Angels. Robbie Williams owes his entire career to that song. It is a modern day classic and now highly regarded as one of the best songs ever composed, recently topping a poll of the best songs never to make No.1. When I first heard that Robbie was releasing a Greatest Hits album, it wasn't a question of if I would buy it, but more of a question of when! This is the ultimate pop Best Of album of the year for the British public. Most households should own a copy of this album, and you can bet your bottom dollar that by Christmas, most of them will. This will sell millions.
The Greatest Hits is arranged in chronological order, with all Robbie's biggest hits arranged in terms of release. Up first we have the four major singles from Robbie's aforementioned debut album. The first is "Old Before I Die," which peaked at No.2 in April 1997, followed by "Lazy Days," which was No.8 in July 1997. Then comes that classic "Angels," which peaked at a criminal No.4 in December 1997. The song has actually, however, spent a calculate total of 27 weeks on the UK chart! Then comes another pop rock classic, "Let Me Entertain You." The video to this song is just so sexy and the song was a No.3 hit in March 1998.
By this point in his career Robbie was a revived star. After quitting Take That, the UK's biggest-ever boyband, less that three years earlier, he was having bigger success as a solo star - something unheard of. He released his second solo album, "I've Been Expecting You," in September 1998, and it features 4 massive hits that are on this Greatest Hits album. The first is "Millennium," which was also Robbie's first UK No.1 single in September 1998. This Bond-inspired classic showed Robbie as the ultimate male entertainer, which he continued with "No Regrets," which peaked at No.4 in December 1998. This beautiful ballad speaks of a disastrous relationship, contrasted perfectly with the next song, "Strong," which was also a No.4 hit in March 1999. Robbie speaks here of how he's not an invincible human being, despite what his fans think. "She's The One" is up next and became Robbie's second UK No.1 in November 1999. This is a really beautiful ballad, trademark Robbie and rounded out his second album in style. Check the video too!
Robbie's third album, "Sing When You're Winning," was released in August 2000 and was yet another No.1 multi-million seller. The first single was called "Rock DJ," and is yet another classic pop song! The song was a massive, huge hit with such a controversial video. Apart from looking utterly gorgeous stripping in it, it was controversial when he takes his skin off in a room with women skating around him! As predicted, it was a No.1 hit, and his third in total. "Kids" was the next single, and peaked at No.2 in October 2000. This duet with Kylie Minogue (whose career had recently been revived also) was a pop-duo made in heaven! "Supreme" peaked at No.4 in December 2000, whilst the upbeat "Let Love Be Your Energy" was a No.10 hit in March 2001. "Eternity" was a Double A-Side with "The Road To Mandalay," both of which feature on this Greatest Hits. The songs went to No.1 in July 2001, becoming Robbie's fourth UK No.1 single. The former is a gorgeous and understated ballad, whilst the former is light pop fluff for a summer's day.
Robbie's fourth studio album, "Escapology" was released in November 2002, and was yet another UK No.1 album, and also the biggest selling album of 2002. To achieve that, with only around five weeks before the end of the year was amazing. It also helped that EMI had just paid him '80 million to stay with them! The album's first single, "Feel," was rather different to what Robbie had done previously, but equally as good, peaking at No.4 in December 2002. "Come Undone" was another big hit for Robbie with a controversial video, peaking at No.5 in April 2003 whilst the vicious "Sexed Up" charted at No.10 in November 2003.
OVERALL GRADE: 10/10
The Greatest Hits album also has two new songs, the funky "Radio," which became Robbie's sixth UK No.1 and the new single "Misunderstood," which will likely follow into similar success. This Greatest Hits album has left quite a few songs off, too, most notably "Freedom" and "South Of The Border" from Robbie's debut album, and his massive Christmas 2001 UK No.1, "Somethin' Stupid," which was a duet with the icon Nicole Kidman, taken from Robbie's Big Band album "Swing When You're Winning," which, yes, you guessed it, was another massive No.1 album! Guy Chambers was the mastermind behind the lyrics and melodies of Robbie's biggest hits, and now that he's left him, we'll see where Robbie stands in the future. In the meantime we can enjoy this essential Greatest Hits.