Review: Take That – Odyssey

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An exquisite album that evokes such strong feelings - it has to be Take That!

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Take That are, arguably, one of the nation’s favourite pop groups. The boy band – currently made up of Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen – have been in action since 1989, producing hits like ‘Rule the World’ and ‘The Flood’. The boys have achieved success both within the UK – with 28 top 40 singles – and on the international stage, garnering 56 number one singles. Despite a rocky journey together, with both Robbie Williams and Jason Orange leaving the band, Take That continue to deliver some brilliant songs as a threesome.

Odyssey is their fifth compilation album release and is a mix of some of the band’s greatest hits, with remastered versions of previous singles, such as ‘These Days’. The album is mixed by Grammy-winning English musician and songwriter Stuart Price as well featuring snippets of all five original band members. Sigma and Boyz II Men also contribute to the album.

The success of the originals is undeniable, so how do the Odyssey versions compare? How can Take That possibly top what they have already produced? With remixed versions of classics like ‘Patience’ and ‘A Million Love Songs’ the band prove how talented they are, and with the help of other exemplary artists as well as Price, this album is nothing short of fantastic.

Other remixed tracks include ‘Greatest Day’; Barlow in particular has described this as an anthem which makes set lists for gigs easier due to it being a killer opening tune. The remix on the Odyssey version is the opening song on the album and starts with lyrics from ‘Never Forget’, leaving fans slightly confused. The differences are quite noticeable between these two versions, however nearing the end of the song, Take That throw in a live clip of Barlow asking fans to put their hands in the air. That, right there, is the magic of the remix, the listeners really feel the emotion of the journey Take That have been on. The Bee Gees classic, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’, on the other hand, was originally covered by the band in the mid ’90s, and proved to be a hit with the fandom, “Thatters”. Odyssey’s version is an even more modern version of the song. A perhaps refreshing piece of music for the fans to hear. A classic sung in a way that generates both nostalgia as well as feelings of excitement for the rest of the album. Another key song on the album, and one that may have come as a shock to listeners, is ‘Everything Changes’. This song features previous member Robbie Williams on lead vocals, with fans often feeling the song was about the boys leaving their loved ones behind whilst they went on tour. The remixed version for this album, surprisingly, keeps Williams’ vocals, whilst it drops the upbeat-disco nature of the song. This rhythm is replaced by a more orchestral vibe.

The album also presents three new songs: ‘Out of Our Heads’, ‘Spin’ and ‘Everlasting’. Each song is important to a different member of the band, less of the Barlow show. Fans have particularly taken to Owen’s ‘Everlasting’ which is an upbeat anthem that Owen supposedly sings to his kids as an alternative to a traditional lullaby at bedtime.

Fans and critics have been quick to comment on the brilliance of the album, with many noting the subtle references to the band’s history. My friend, and fellow UoS student, Erinn Sturgess, is a Take That super fan. The minute the album was released, she was listening to it on repeat. Whilst discussing their latest work, Erinn was keen to comment on how loyal fans will notice that sections between songs involved other Take That hits, and that the spoken words at the end of many of the songs, such as ‘Everlasting’, truly resonate with the listeners. The album humanises the band, which makes them even more relatable to the public.

It is quite clear that the songs were placed in a specific order. Disc one opens with ‘Greatest Day’ whilst the whole album closes with ‘Rule the World’. The choice for the latter perhaps encompasses how the band members feel Take That has impacted their lives. Closing this greatest hit album with this exact song emphasises how iconic the band is to British music history, and leaves listeners feeling comfortably reminiscent.

The album is fittingly named Oydssey. The word itself essentially means a long and eventful adventure. Frankly, nothing could summarise the journey this band has been on in a better way. Take That has been through several break-ups, rifts and reunions and has always produced some powerful and emotive songs, that are almost always a hit with the public. The remastered versions of their previous hits clearly represent what the band was in the 90s and 00s as opposed to the band they are now; the people they have become. Odyssey is magical to listen to and will no doubt evoke bittersweet feelings in anyone who sits down and plays the whole album through – the way it should be.

Odyssey is now available now via Polydor Records. To celebrate the 30thanniversary of the band, Take That have confirmed a tour to commence in 2019.

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