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Title - 'In & Out of Consciousness: Greatest Hits'
Artist - Robbie Williams

The one thing you could probably never accuse Robbie Williams of is being boring. Certainly not musically anyway. Arguably the charisma of Take That, no amount of sub-Coldplay knock off's or women in their late 20's/early 30's screaming at Take That's recent comeback could change the fact that without Robbie, Take That lost the edge that made them such a fun proposition during the glory days.

It's also worth pointing out that it's debateable whether Take That's comeback outselling Robbie's Rudebox really made up for the YEARS of success Williams had without his former band mates. Still, now that Take That's comeback had run out of steam and Robbie (and this greatest hits compilation if we're being honest) needed a career boost they did the sensible thing and got back together.

This "backwards" compilation starts with William's new single with Gary Barlow and whilst it would be easy to be cynical about its lyrical content there's no denying that it's a great song. From there we go back in time all the way back to Take That's Everything Changes; it's a strange way to compile a greatest hits in some ways but in may ways it works.

The ubiquitous likes of Angels and Rock DJ may have lost some of their lustre over the years but are no less welcome on an occasional basis for all that and the less played-to-death hits like Millennium and Feel can be welcomed back like old school friends. She's Madonna and Lovelight show that Rudebox was by no means the disaster it was made out to be, whilst the fact that he could rope Nicole Kidman in for a duet of Something Stupid shows just how "big" Williams was at his peak, no matter how misguided you may feel that particular idea was.

If I was picking out what I considered to be his absolute finest hour musically, I would plump for the majestic No Regrets. Telling the story of his failed relationship with All Saints' Nicole Appleton it's a sweeping epic that (with the help of Neil Tennant and Neil Hannon) encapsulates the thoughtful and melancholy side to Williams character that was always there, even through the hedonistic "good" times.

For all the criticism Williams gets this set shows that he was never one to rest on his laurels. In many ways he's the unlikely star who many would have bet on to fade into obscurity. If it hadn't been for the surprise success of Angels that may well have been the case. He parlayed, however, that monster hit into a genuinely interesting career which may not have always "worked" in terms of great music but was rarely boring or straightforward.

Two discs leaves us with some mis-fires and you may find yourself editing down the good stuff to fit on one CD, but in many ways this set is a fitting tribute to the eccentricity of Williams and his willingness to follow his own path.

www.robbiewilliams.com





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