Category Archives: Take That

Take That – Everything Changes

Take That

Everything Changes

BMG/ Sony Music Entertainment

10-11-1993

So manufactured male vocal quintet Take That (Since four of the five rarely, if ever, played any instruments they were never a band of any sorts, so the term boy band would be wrong although, if I’m being honest Gary Barlow is, in fact, a musician) got to record a second album. It’s puzzling really if you know what their debut sounded like. I do because I reviewed it (It utterly and completely sounded like crap.) But it was inevitable because said debut miraculously sold enough copies to warrant a follow-up. But let’s keep things brief. It is 1993. Robbie Williams, who would later become Europe’s biggest rock star, is still with the group. They release their worldwide smash hit of a sophomore album and become the most succesful british group since the Beatles.

That last factoid is just fucked up isn’t it?

1. Everything Changes

During the first few seconds Robbie pretends he is a serious R&B singer and straight talks to Take That’s gang rape victim his love interest in a “romantic” manner. On the Take That greatest hits album they edited this intriguing bit of prose out which is definitely for the better but it doth not a good song make. This title track was in fact a hit single but, like everything the man did while in Take That, a complete misfit to Robbie’s style. I mean it’s cute and catchy and all, but one can’t help but think he himself would never himself have elected to record this out of all the songs that are out to be sung.  So yeah. I’m not sure how Robbie managed to get the first lead twice on the first song of one of these albums by a boy band of which he wasn’t the lead singer. Maybe he hit Gary K.O. in the head with a pool ball in a sock right after the studio guy pressed “record” and then hogged the mic. Maybe that was why he eventually couldn’t be in the band anymore. The instrumental? This was written and produced by Absolute, who would later on do half of the Spice Girls’ debut. This sounds like electronic faux post-disco except for that it isn’t funky in any way, shape or form. The electronic bit means as much as that the producers were actively trying to make post-disco but couldn’t be bothered to use actual instruments. Well, except for a Kenny G-ish sax that is. Gotta love those…

2. Pray

Overly breathy and too bland to be cheesy in a entertaining way. That’s all I got, sorry.

3. Wasting My Time

I am trying to find out whom it is the boys, or rather Absolute, who produce this one too, are trying to imitate here. It could be Barry White, I suppose, but Gary vocally being the polar opposite of the late walrus of love (Barry can make your subwoofer put cracks in your wall if the volume is cranked up a bit too high by just speaking on record.) keeps that from becoming clear entirely. The nod to Barry is appreciated. I been bumping the pillow prince for a while now and still can’t get enough of his love (no homo). As for this. Meh. The songwriting and music are neither here nor there. Perhaps an actual soul singer could’ve pulled it off but Barlow’s adolescent yelp of a voice just can’t seem to do the trick.

4. Relight My Fire (feat. Lulu)

Well, there‘s that glorious early 90’s, diet cheese-music I was looking for when originally starting to listen to Everything Changes or Take That and Party for that matter. Allegedly this is a cover of a song by some cat named Dan Hartman but I never heard the original and can’t be bothered to look it up right now. This is what Jamiroquai would be doing… if Jamiroquai was a manufactured boygroup rather than a skilled band, was  singing covers of cheesy old shit rather than perform their own class A nu-disco capm and had a less soulful, less charismatic lead singer, and if this doesn’t make you tap your foot, or some shit like that, you are likely to be either a corpse or Stephen Hawking. Barlow seems to have been put on the planet to sing material like this, and the guest vocal by British, white soul kitch-diva Lulu only adds to the fun.

5. Love Ain’t Here Anymore

Well this wouldn’t be an 90’s pop album without a sugar-coated, uselessly bombastic ballad, now would it? This one here could make even the Backstreet Boys cringe with lines such as “Love ain’t here anymore, It went away to a town called yesterday”.

6. If This Is Love

Howard Donald get to do some leads. Whom did he have fellate in order for that to happen!? Nigel Martin-Smith, probanly… He is technically proficient in singing but yeah, technically so is Justin Bieber…

7. Whatever You Do To Me

A Motown rip-off? Okay, why the fuck not? Despite it’s clichéd “What Goes Around Comes Around” theme  it’s pretty decent and even the use of a saxophone makes sense.

8. Meaning of Love

Now here the boys accomplish what they probably were trying to do for the entirety of their debut. Record a decent dance tune. It’s too bad they didn’t stick around for the UK Garage era because they sound perfectly at home on this melodic (relatively speaking) house beat. Well played, gentlemen.

9. Why Can’t I Wake Up With You?

I really liked the beat which consists of drums, strings and some hiphop breaks and little more. Okay, the entire song isn’t half bad. But don’t tell anyone I said that.

10. You Are The One

Whereas this dance tune is glorious in showing all that was wrong with this particular bit of the 90’s. The melodies are corny, The instrumental is overstuffed with sound effects and the drums… well there’s nothing wrong with the drums but yeah, this song fucking godawful still.

11. Crack In My Heart

Meh. No this isn’t about Robbie’s love affair with cocain… That’d be fucking epic.

12. Broken Your Heart

Any of my comments on Meaning of Love also apply here, positive comments, mind you. I could bitch on how this song is too similar to Meaning of Love but in stead I will congratulate the boys for having found a style that did in fact fit them.

13. Babe

Okay, this Mark Owen guy is also not a terrible singer and Babe is a not-too-awful male vocal group-ballad, even if, like most of the music in this genre, is much too dramatic for its own good. The fact that this contains every single cliché this type of songs could potentially offer would either be a criticism or the lion share of the trashy appeal this holds today.  And with that Everything Changes is over.

Best tracks

Relight My Fire, Whatever You Do To Me, Meaning of Love, Why Can’t I Wake Up With You, Broken Your Heart, Babe

Conclusions

So Everything Changes is a vast improvement over Take That and Party. But then again that‘s not any sort of accomplishment. If the boys would’ve farted into their microphones over these beats it still would’ve been a vast improvement over Take That and Party. So, what then? Well, the instrumentals sound a little less cold and dead on first listen, this time around. That doesn’t mean they do very well under close scrutiny. But at least most of the songs here are inoffensive enough that you won’t be too disturbed by them when your woman forces you to go to the mall with her to carry her bags of useless, expensive shit and you are forced to endure them because the mall staff seems to believe playing adult contemporary music and yesteryear’s hits encourages big spending. Also Everything Changes is about as close to a first class, all included time machine trip to 1993 as you can get. So that counts for something, if you’re into that. I am. But the fact that this never once manages to escape its epoch also means that today it will appeal to only a very small group of people, namely 90s nostalgics. Just like todays pop music in twenty years will probably only get any love by people who are young now. If you never cared for 90’s pop, even when you were under the age of ten when this came out off course this will do nothing for you. Go back to your dubstep tracks, quickly!, before it goes out of fashion! But on to the main reason I’m reviewing these guys in the first place, Robbie motherfucking Williams. Well he gets one song on the entire album,  and not a very good one at that, so fans of his solo career should pass on this.

Recommendations

Everything Changes is quite a lot of fun at times. But not so much fun overall that you should exchange money for it. That Crystal meth habit isn’t going to support itself, ya know? But if you were a fan of the group when it was popular and you might have a copy lying around you should dust it off and give it a spin. And if you are one of those people and you can’t seem to find it, a trip to the pirate bay may be in order.


Take That – Take That and Party

Take That

Take That and Party

BMG/ Sony Music Entertainment

17-8-1992

There’s a general consensus about the early 1990’s being a terrible time for popular music. I find that to be entirely unfair. Sure, an incredible amount of bullshit was released and eagerly consumed by the record buying audiences (You see kids, way back in the day one had to go to the store and exchange money for music. Isn’t it unfortunate that you cannot steal cigarettes off the interweb? Those ironically enough were a lot cheaper and easier to come by in that day and age. They were even advertised in magazines and on tv. But I’m getting off topic here.)  In any time in the history of humanity there’s bullshit music being made to be consumed by the absolute majority of people and to be despised by a small minority, just for being popular. I believe the first half of the ‘90s were no worse than any time after 1979 since today. Therefore I’m out to find some of that good stuff. I mean in the ’70s few thought of disco as good, serious music and while today still few people do take it seriously (I guess it’s just not that kind of musical genre) a lot of people today readily recognize the art and craft behind it. So, why not ’90s pop?

Because after 15 years of bitching and moaning about one another’s personal flaws last year all members have finally regrouped, and clearly someone gives a shit because they are having a successful reunion album and tour I’m kicking this attempt off by reviewing British vocal quintet Take That’s somewhat self titled 1992 debut Take That and Party, the band was originally assembled by manager Nigel Martin-Smith who saw the stateside success of vocal boy band New Kids on the Block and thought a European, or more specifically a British equivalent would be a dandy idea. He started looking for possible members from in and around the city of Manchester.  He selected the soon-to-be members by holding auditions, not unlike those talent shows that make finding something worthwhile to watch on the telly on a Friday so goddamn difficult. Gary Barlow participated in one of these and impressed Martin-Smith so much with his singing and songwriting skills he made him the centre-piece of the group. After touring a few gay clubs and releasing a couple of ill received but mildly successful singles they started to get hugely popular among gay club-visitors and teen-aged girls alike. They were modeled, like any band containing five pretty boys singing and doing little in the instrumental department after New Edition which was itself an attempt to recreate the Jackson 5. However rather than making something retro Take That took cues from whatever artist and music genre was popular at the moment. From what I believe to be the late ’70s on there was an emergence of digital Music-making technology, kicking off with synthesizers which had to be played by actual people and today culminating in the Fruity loops generation, where everybody and their grandmother can claim to be a musician in any one of the electronic musical genres which nobody who doesn’t like to take lots of drugs at rave parties gives half a shit about (…). Take That and Party was released far beyond the point where you needed a lot of musicians in your studio to make music, all they had were a bunch of producers and Barlow, therefore minimizing the amount of people who could object against misguided and questionable ideas. Then they… O my fucking GOD why am I doing this? That title, that album cover and most importantly that story. This cannot be anything but a musical catastrophe. The music industry taking a dump on record buyers worldwide. Both actual fans and people whose children kept on bitching until they couldn’t do much but buy the fucking cd already… Oh right. Robbie Williams, the biggest rock star in Europe in the 2000s started off in this band, and singlehandedly tore it apart eventually by leaving, before rejoining it in 2010 after his solo-career went to shit. You can see half of him on the absolute right of the cover. Anyway, they released their debut album Take That and Party to decent enough success.

Let’s find out just how much torture it is listening to Take That and Party!

1. I Found Heaven

Robbie allegedly left Take That when he did because he was underexposed in the group but while Barlow is the undisputable alpha male in the group Rob does take the lead vocal on the first song of their first album. He is the best thing about I Found Heaven. The instrumental struggles to be soulful but turns out stillborn in stead. Allegedly the band hates this song with every inch of every band member’s respective body. Even though this is truly awful indeed and Gary indeed did not write it he did write some shit that is even worse than this, most of which is also on this album, so his incessant claims that this is the worst song of Take That’s or his own career (did he ever really have a career outside of the group?) is not wholly justified.

2. Once You’ve Tasted Love

This instrumental showcases the horrible, horrible, horrible electronic musical genre the primitive computers of the late 80’s and early ’90s blurred out, seemingly without human input, called eurodance. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin together could not have breathed life into it if ever they tried. Also, to add insult to even more insult those cheesy female backing vocals and those goddamn sound effects make this a lot worse than, let’s just say I Found Heaven… To make things the absolute worst, Take That seems to be an incredibly earnest band which isn’t even a bit ironic about their music. Fuck.

3. It Only Takes a Minute

What’s said about the previous two tracks mostly rings true for this one as well, but this works somewhat better because it more fun (fun is completely underrated in the process of music making), albeit in an incredibly cheesy way.

4. A Million Love Songs

Wow, even more cheesy… Oh wait I’m listening to a British boy band album recorded and released in the early ‘90s. I must keep that in mind before making more such comments. Anyway, this song, like most of this album, was written by lead vocalist/ main songwriter Gary Barlow he and this was actually pretty decent. Rather than robotic piano keys sprinkled over robotic beats like disco dip on an shit-flavored ice cream cone we get an actual sax over some drums you won’t mind, even without the aid of mdma. Just for sounding more organic than the three tracks preceding it A Million Love Songs automatically sound better but it’s also a decent love song in and by itself, with semi-clever, heartfelt lyrics soulfully and sincerely sung by Gary. Not the best song ever recorded or anything but passable nonetheless.

5. Satisfied

More outdated euro-trash but this time with a more obvious disco influence. Unlike disco I don’t think the majority dance music from this particular genre and time will ever appeal to anyone who wasn’t a young or very very high when it came out. I suppose Bieber fans should check this out if they want to understand how I feel about their hero with music from the future not being available, and all.

6. I Can Make It

That doesn’t mean all or even most of the ballads fare any better. It should be noted that this type of song is oft imitated and often done better by ‘bands’ or their greedy management and production crew who found it necessary to be influenced by this album’s sound.

7. Do What You Like

Any comment I could give about Do What You Like I have already wasted on earlier Take That and Party’s earlier epic failures. I can warn you about its video. That shit is way too disturbing for what is supposed to be a band aimed at young teenagers, although since Take That was also there for the gay clubs it does make some sense. Alas, what’s seen cannot be unseen, dear readers.

8. Promises

I’m beginning to think most of the synths used in the creation of this album were used solely utilized because they were available, not because of any underlying musical idea. When I started listening to Take that and Party I hoped for a hilarious and somewhat intriguing look into the world of pop music around twenty years ago. Alas, most of this album is rather a boring-as-fuck look into the world of pop music of around twenty years ago. For some strange reason I found that Barlow sounds a bit like David Bowie at the beginning of this song. Not that that should be seen as any sort of comparison between Barlow and Bowie as artists, because if I did that my house would be shelled by Bowie fanatics.

9. Why Can’t I Wake Up With You

While I like the hiphop influence this track shows it is more likely bandwagon-jumping than anything else. Also this song sucks, blows, is not good. At all.

10. Never Want to Let You Go

The guitars or crappy 1992 synths pretending to be guitars give this an extremely mild reggae vibe. Unfortunately Barlow doesn’t appear to have the balls to attempt to piss off everyone of Caribbean descent hearing this by adopting a faux Jamaican accent…

11. Give Good Feeling

This song is the audio equivalent of the car breaking down and smoke coming out of the engine… before the whole thing blows to bits off course. This is that kind of party.

12. Could It Be Magic

A Barry Manilow cover. I guess nobody should surprised about this, especially me since at this point I’ve almost heard the entirety of this album. At least hearing the few Williams-led tracks, of which Could It Be Magic is one, are interesting to see what this boy band led to or conversely where Williams started his career. Not that that makes this a good song or some impossible shit like that… Apparently this has won a BRIT award in 1993. Don’t want to fucking know what kind songs lost to this.

13. Take that and Party

And this album is over, oh and for those of you who give half a shit, surprise surprise! The title tracks is just as boring and bloodless as the rest of it.

Best track

A Million Love Songs

Conclusions

There may have been some good music made in the early ‘90s but Take That and Party contains very little of it. By trying to be really, really hip in and using the latest technology of 1992 Take That and Party sounds dated beyond belief. Basically the production sounds like Thake That’s producers intended them to be a Milli Vanilli rip-off. There is one song that still barely works today. That song is listed above. The other 12 tracks are one long suckfest. Whilst I am against the term ‘commercial music’ because that describes any music by an artist or band who would like to sell a lot of records I believe Take That and Party is definitely over-commercial because attempts at creating anything with any artistic merit is thrown overboard without anything to help it stay afloat. This album was solely made for separating as many people from their money as possible. Still, Barlow and Williams in particular aren’t bad singers and they recorded two more albums before breaking up in 1996, with different producers than they utilized here. Therefore I may someday review their sophomore Everything Changes if I am so inclined.

Recommendations

The only song that’s worth checking out is A Million Love Songs, but people with a cheese allergy should avoid that one too as it may very well mean the death of ‘em. The rest of it needs not, nay.. may not be revisited, even for nostalgia reasons!

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