There was only one place for Take That to go after The Circus, it almost seems written in their destiny that the group would become whole, it would heal itself, and Robbie Williams would be welcomed back. The story has been told that way because that is how it looked. Beautiful World may have been something of an unknown step but the fact that it was a massive success almost automatically routed Take That’s internal GPS through The Circus and all of the content on that album, back to Robbie. Speaking to James Corden in 2014, Gary Barlow said getting Robbie back involved was something the boys “always knew” would happen. While it was always something the band may have wanted to happen, and there are examples on both previous albums where the boys had worn their hearts on their immaculately well-dressed sleeves, knowing that it would happen is something very different.
The Circus may have been therapeutic on some levels but there was going to have to be serious work done, if the boys were going to make Progress.
Before Beautiful World was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, they met up to see what would happen if the band got back together. The world certainly found out, If was not just possible, it was magical. In 2009, two months after the four boys had played and dazzled Wembley Stadium on the Circus tour, they met up in New York with Robbie Williams with much the same sense of wonder, and asked themselves the question once again; What would happen if?
In truth a large step forward had already been taken by the time everyone was in that room, because Gary and Robbie had their come to Jesus meeting, during the mixing of The Circus. In an interview given to Radio One and reported in The Daily Mail and The Telegraph (August 2010) they said the pair had a ‘big chat’ and importantly both said sorry to each other. Listening to each other give their own truths and hearing each other say sorry seemed nearly impossible when the five members sat and gave interviews to camera on ‘For The Record’ in 2006. Robbie said at that time that he would be fine in a room with everyone except Gary, doubting that he could find any closure there because Gary “couldn’t see how he was, what he did or how he acted”.
Writing in 2018, Gary said that Robbie’s contempt for him at that stage left him with a bad feeling and certainly a reunion had absolutely “no pulse”.
Certain things go through your head when you hear that a band is going to reform. Can they still do it? Do they still have it? Does anyone still want it?
It is very important, crucial you may say.
When you hear that a band are going to reunite your mind may find itself relaxing in many varied presumptuous locations.
You may think you know what is going to happen. If said band are reforming on stage, you’ll probably write it off as a smash and grab affair; the band will stand up there, sing the hits maybe in a lower key, bang a few of the songs that weren’t quite as good in a medley in the middle.
We really should thank our sweet Lord that the song writing partnership of Lennon and McCartney frustrated George Harrison in the later, troubled years of that band they were in. You know that band; you’ve heard of them, I’m sure. There was John, Paul, George and that guy who voiced Thomas the Tank Engine and doesn’t do autographs anymore (peace and love, peace and love). The Beatles.
To quote Lennon, he and Paul “carved up the empire” between themselves because at first George wrote one throwaway song for each Beatle album and by the time he got good, the group was losing interest in being ‘fab’. This frustration at being overlooked is something that Harrison turned to his advantage. When the time came to deliver the statement that was his debut solo album; All Things Must Pass (1970), he had a huge backlog of songs to include.
I’d Have You Anytime was written whilst hanging around Bob Dylan after the unhappy White Album sessions with those Beatles. Whilst Dylan wrote some of the lyrics it’s perfect musical representation of Harrison because it features George’s favourite chords, or in Tom Petty’s words ‘the naughty chords’; diminished and augmented that just drip from the song beautifully.