Robert Peter Williams (born 13 February 1974) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He found fame as a member of the pop group Take That from 1990 to 1995, but has achieved greater commercial success with his solo career since 1996. His discography includes seven UK No. 1 singles, and all but one of his 12 studio albums have reached No. 1 in the UK. Six of his albums are among the top 100 biggest-selling albums in the UK, with two of them in the top 60, and he gained a Guinness World Record in 2006 for selling 1.6 million tickets in a single day during his Close Encounters Tour.
Williams has received a record 18 Brit Awards, winning Best British Male Artist four times, Outstanding Contribution to Music twice, an Icon Award for his lasting impact on British culture, eight German ECHO Awards, and three MTV European Music Awards. In 2004, he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame after being voted the Greatest Artist of the 1990s. According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), he has been certified for 19.9 million albums and 8.2 million singles in the UK as a solo artist. Five of his albums have also topped the Australian albums chart, and has sold 75 million records worldwide. He additionally topped the 2000–2010 UK airplay chart. His three concerts at Knebworth in 2003 drew over 375,000 people, the UK’s biggest music event to that point. In 2014, he was awarded the freedom of his home town of Stoke-on-Trent, as well as having a tourist trail created and streets named in his honour.
After a 15-year hiatus from Take That, Williams rejoined the group in 2010 to co-write and perform lead vocals on their album Progress, which became the second fastest-selling album in UK chart history and the fastest-selling record of the century at the time. The subsequent stadium tour, which featured seven songs from Williams’ solo career, became the biggest-selling concert in UK history when it sold 1.34 million tickets in less than 24 hours. In 2011, Take That frontman Gary Barlow confirmed that Williams had left the band for a second time to focus on his solo career, although he stated that the departure was amicable and that Williams was welcome to rejoin Take That in the future. Williams has since performed with Take That on three separate television appearances, and collaborated with Barlow on a number of projects such as the West End musical The Band.
I’ve Been Expecting You is the second studio album by English recording artist Robbie Williams. It was released on 25 August 1998 through Chrysalis Records. The album spawned five singles, including lead single “Millennium”, which became Williams’ first UK number-one hit.
A critical and major commercial success, it debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, marking Williams’ second consecutive chart-topper, and has been certified 10× Platinum.
John Bush of AllMusic rated the album four stars out of five, and stated that the album is both a “studied” and “more mature, calculated album” than its predecessor Life Thru a Lens (1997) “from a pop star who’s often gloried in being immature and spontaneous.” He noted the album “may suffer from comparisons to its excellent predecessor, but it also finds Robbie Williams weathering the sophomore storm quite well.” NME rated the album 8/10, saying “boy, what a record” and that Williams’ “writing skills have improved enormously”. The reviewer also noted the album’s “impressive diversity” and concluded that “sure, Robbie’s still more Michael Barrymore than Michael Stipe, and he’ll never be ‘cool’ by that constipated, soul-crushingly snobbish James Lavelle definition. But he’s a natural-born star and he wants you to love him. I’ve Been Expecting You provides 12 good reasons why you should.”
Williams and Chambers started the writing process of the album in Jamaica in the spring of 1998. I’ve Been Expecting You was released in October 1998. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, and went on to become the UK’s best selling album for that year. According to the Music Week, the album has sold 2,582,016 copies in the UK as of November 2016, and has been certified 10× Platinum for shipments of 3 million copies, making it Williams’ best-selling album in the country.
The album also received attention outside the United Kingdom, particularly in continental Europe and Latin America, and has sold a total of five million copies worldwide. Williams finished album promotion with an extensive European tour in the autumn of 1999. I’ve Been Expecting You was ranked 91st in a 2005 survey held by British television’s Channel 4 to determine the 100 greatest albums of all time.
“Millennium”, a song which was inspired by John Barry’s music from the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, became Williams’ first solo number-one single in the United Kingdom when it was released in September 1998, knocking All Saints from the top spot. Williams commented that “Someone had to be knocked off and it may as well be the wife” as Williams and Nicole Appleton were engaged at the time. The song went on to sell over 400,000 copies in the UK being certified Gold by the BPI in November 1998. The song also became a top twenty hit in many European countries as well as in Latin America and Australia.
“No Regrets”, a collaboration with Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant and The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, was released as the album’s second single in November 1998, reaching number four in the UK Singles Chart, backed with the cover of Adam and the Ants 1981 hit “Antmusic”. The song became a substantial hit around the world and went on to sell over 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom, where it was certified Silver in October 2004, almost six years after its original release.
“Strong”, a song written in a hotel in Cologne, Germany, inspired by some of Williams’ more manic admirers whom he admitted “scared the living daylights” out of him, was released as the album’s third single. The song debuted at number four in the United Kingdom and number nine in New Zealand. The track became a hit, peaking within the top forty around Europe and many other countries around the world.
“She’s the One”, a cover of the Karl Wallinger track from the album Egyptology, was a favourite song of Williams’ after his time in rehab. The song was released as the album’s fourth single, becoming his second number-one hit in the United Kingdom. The song went on to win a number of awards around the world, including a BRIT Award for ‘Single of the Year’ and a Capital Radio Award for ‘Best Single’. The single was released as a double A-side with “It’s Only Us”, the official theme for EA Sports’ video game FIFA 2000. The single sold over 400,000 copies in the UK alone and was certified Gold by the BPI in early 2000.
“Win Some Lose Some” was released as the album’s fifth and final single in March 2000, with an exclusive release in Australia and New Zealand. The song achieved some success there, and the physical copy of the single has since become a very sought-after item amongst fans.
In 1998, Williams was sued by Ludlow Publishing over the song “Jesus in a Camper Van” because it lifted lyrics from the Loudon Wainwright III song “I Am the Way”, from his album Attempted Mustache. The lyric to “I Am the Way” is as follows: “Every son of God has a little hard luck sometime, especially when he goes around saying he’s the way.” The lyric to “Jesus in a Camper Van” in question is: “Even the son of God gets it hard sometimes, especially when he goes around, saying I am the way.”
Williams claimed that he had heard a young man say the line whilst in rehab, and only found that it was a line from Wainwright’s song after he had already recorded it. Williams’ agents called Wainwright to notify him about this, but Wainwright had little say in the matter; “I Am the Way” was a parody of the Woody Guthrie song “New York Town”; Ludlow Publishing owned the line’s copyright. In 2002, Ludlow Publishing won the lawsuit, receiving 25% of the income that “Jesus in a Camper Van” garnered, and subsequently, the album was re-issued replacing “Jesus in a Camper Van” with “It’s Only Us”.
During a show at the Roundhouse London in October 2019, Williams performed the song and also revealed, “That lyric cost me £2.5 million! Truth to God!” (wikipedia)
Guy Chambers (keyboards, vibraphone, synthesizer, guitar, bass synth)
Alex Dickson (guitar, vocals)
Fil Eisler (bass, guitar, vocals)
Gary Nuttall (guitar, vocals)
Chris Sharrock (drums)
Robbie Williams (vocals)
“Planet” Claire Worrall (guitar, vocals, keyboards)
Nicole Appleton (telephone voice)
André Barreau (guitar, background vocals)
David Catlin-Birch (guitar, bass guitar, background vocals)
Andy Duncan (percussion, loops)
Steve McEwan (guitar, background vocals)
DJ Slice (scratching)
Jeremy Stacey (drums)
Steve McEwan (guitar, background vocals)
Neil Hannon – Claudia Fontaine – Bevereley Skeet – Neil Tennant – Nicole Patterson
London Session Orchestra conducted by Gavin Wright
01. Strong (Williams/Chambers) 4.39
02. No Regrets (Williams/Chambers) 5.10
03. Millennium (Williams/Chambers/Bricusse/Barry) 4.07
04. Phoenix From The Flames (Williams/Chambers) 4.02
05. Win Some Lose Some (Williams/Chambers) 4.18
06. Grace (Williams/Chambers) 3.13
07. Jesus In A Camper Van (Williams/Chambers/Wainwright III) 3.39
08. Heaven From Here (Williams/Chambers) 3.05
09. Karma Killer (Williams/Chambers) 4.28
10. She’s The One (Wallinger) 4.18
11. Man Machine (Williams/Chambers) 3.35
12. These Dreams / Stand Your Ground (hidden track) (Williams/Chambers) / Stalker’s Day Off (I’ve Been Hanging Around) (hidden track) (Williams/Chambers/Eisler) 31.23
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