I’ve Been Expecting You – Robbie Williams – 1998
First listen?: No
I promise that this is definitely the last time I’ll mention Robbie Williams or anyone else from Take That in this list. With 4 appearances in the Top 60 Biggest Selling albums, two with Gary and the boys and two solo, Robbie has the most appearances of any individual. I’ve Been Expecting You is by far his best album too, follow up to his hugely successful solo debut Life Thru A Lens, every single track here is a classic Robbie hit. When Guy Chambers and Robbie Williams get together it’s pop gold. Their partnership on this record, where the songwriting manages to be as thrilling as the vocal performance. No more evident than on album and probably career highlight No Regrets, which speaks frankly about his time with Take That, thundering drums and the line ‘I guess the love we once had is officially dead’ giving the song a tremendously abrupt ending. Somehow there’s loads of moments as exciting as No Regrets across I’ve Been Expecting You, his angelic vocal on the lilting Heaven From Here, the ‘Yahooooo!’ bit of Win Some, Lose Some, sampling James Bloody Bond on the outstanding Millennium, it’s shocking that just 4 years earlier Robbie was ‘the other one’ in the country’s biggest boyband. Even on the only cover here, She’s The One, the production and flawless vocal performance gives the song a timeless feel. With I’ve Been Expecting You Robbie captured the essence of 90s Brit-pop and removed everything that was terrible about the bland mess of an music industry that Oasis and Blur had long left behind. At the end of the decade a song like Strong was as inventive and irreverent as the best Brit-Pop hits, but without the pretentiousness that had developed in the genre. This is music by people who loved pop songs and by chance knew how to write 11 killer ones. It’s the moment that Robbie Williams outpaced everything that Take That had managed before him, and even if those lads would eventually catch up again, I’ve Been Expecting You is by far the best thing to emerge from the biggest band of my lifetime.
Will I listen again?: Of course.
Best Track: I could seriously make a case for every one of the 12 main tracks here, even infamous ‘deleted’ song Jesus In A Camper Van. For me though No Regrets is probably the best song that Robbie has ever released and here it’s a true gem.