Today’s POP RESCUE from a potentially loveless future, is the 1993 second album Everything Changes by boy band Take That.
This 13 track album opens with title track and fifth single Everything Changes which sees Robbie Williams take the lead. He opens the song with some sultry reassurance before it opens out into a bouncy little pop song. At times, this song feels somewhat Stock/Aitken/Waterman, but it’s not. Even though it’s a bit weaker than some of the other singles here, the track did give them another #1 UK singles.
Next up is their huge hit Pray, which needs little to no explanation. Gary Barlow takes the helm here, and his soft soulful vocals make light work of this whilst the rest of the group put in some great vocal harmonies. The song is light and summery, thanks to the 90’s rent-a-beat which sounds similar to most of Eternal’s tracks. This song gave the group their very first UK #1 single.
This is followed by Wasting My Time which gives Gary another outing on the mic. This song is laced with a gentle percussive beat, laden with some keyboard brass and a some tinkling piano and guitar parts. The funky mid section gives the rest of the group (noticeably Robbie) some space to add backing vocals whilst saxophone honks over the top. This song feels like a bit of a ‘nice’ filler, as if it’s a gentle interlude in the middle of something greater.
.. and I’m right. That zooming whoosh turns up, and Gary is soon back and into their huge #1 UK cover of Relight My Fire. The strings, piano, disco beat and tempo are all wonderful. This version of course includes the belting vocals of 60’s starlet Lulu, who makes light work of the vocals and really shows off her powerful vocal range – a raw contrast against Gary’s softer voice. An perfect vocal combination, and unsurprisingly a springboard for Lulu’s renewed musical career. The original, which saw Dan Hartman‘s slightly higher vocals set against a full-on disco soundtrack, comes in as a decent second place.
Turn the lights down for Love Ain’t Here Anymore, with Gary singing his regrets out – ‘Love’s gone away to a town called Yesterday‘ he sings. Cheer up, Gary. This is a mid-tempo ballad, with soaring strings that fit perfectly with the vocal range of the group. This was the 6th and final UK single, giving them a #3 hit.
Up next is If This Is Love, which seems to have taken more of those rent-a-90s-beats previously used in Pray. Howard has the vocals here, and he is a welcome contrast from Gary. This has a nice downbeat feel to it, despite his high vocals and warm backing vocals.
There’s a sense of a lost era in Whatever You Do To Me, reminding me a bit of something you might find on the Blues Brothers soundtrack. There’s a ton of funky brass sections throughout that honk their way through alongside some ‘oohs’ from the rest of the group whilst Gary takes lead vocals again. Sadly, his high-pitched vocals from about 1m 45s feel like a mis-step that let it down.
Meaning Of Love sounds like it’s a missing Kym Sims track – aside from having Gary singing all over it. There’s a wonderful bouncy beat, plenty of synth strings, and a ton of house piano and the soft beat all feel borrowed from her hit Too Blind To See It. It’s a catchy song.
Next up is lead single Why Can’t I Wake Up With You? this has a great beat and synth line. Again, the 90’s beat and samples, along with the bedtime talk from a breathy Gary, ensured that this track became a hit, narrowly missing the top spot – and giving the group a #2 hit.
This is followed by You Are The One, which is quite a pumping 90s dance track with a thick bass line. The simple synths feel a bit wooden or at least dated. There’s a nice piano roll and a scattering of vocal effects. At times it reminds me of S/A/W act Big Fun. I wonder how this one would have sounded if Robbie had sung it. It feels like a filler, and should probably have been ditched.
The eleventh track is Another Crack In My Heart, opening with a tinkling of bells. This is a much stronger track despite it being a slow number with a fairly soft echoey beat. There’s some great wandering piano sections in this, and these dance lightly around Gary’s vocals and the boy’s backing vocals.
Penultimate track Broken Your Heart is oddly bouncy and cheery despite it being about breaking someone’s heart!?! Again, this definitely feels like Big Fun territory, and once you’ve spotted it, it’s hard to let that image go.
The album closes on what else, but the familiar dialling of little Mark Owen phoning a wrong number… Yes, it’s Babe, so you better get those tissues ready. This song has tear-jerking lyrics and vocals from Mark as he realises somehow that despite only being about 12yrs old, he’s also unknowingly a dad whose mother has tried escape from. The emotions soar here as much as the dramatic strings, giving this album a wonderful send off.
Over all, this is a great album, packed full of hits and some examples of the slickest contemporary 90s pop sounds (especially Meaning Of Love – this should have been a single). However, there’s a couple of fillers here (namely You Are The One and Wasting My Time), and the oddly cheerful Broken Your Heart, that may well have fared better in 1993 than they do now, where they feel a bit like packing. Trimming this album of those three tracks would make it a lighter load to bear.
Where are Take That now?
The success of this album saw them dominate the charts and arena tours.
Unsurprisingly, Gary and Mark all embarked on solo careers, with varying success, but it was Robbie who found the greatest success as a solo artist.
Ten years later in 2006, the group returned with album Beautiful World, and by 2010 Robbie had returned for their album Progress (2010). This also marked the final appearance of Jason Orange.
Take That have continued with sell-out tours, supporting their most recent album III, which sees the group as a trio for the first time.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1993 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified 4x Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: 99p from an Age UK store.