They embraced a wonderful silliness that forerunners Bros (weren't they awful?) had spurned. They blended Stock Aiken and Waterman pop with a bit of RnB, and re-recorded some tinny takes on classics, as well as turning out albums featuring songs written by main boy Gary Barlow.
Like a pole dancing barbershop quintet, they were camp and their music was nothing much to listen to. But they were characterful and easy to mock, and oh, so very entertaining to watch on video. They weren't scared to look silly. Their let's just have fun attitude worked like a charm - apparently both teenage girls and gay men really do love a man who makes them laugh.
Best of all, they launched the career of Robbie Williams. Although he was never considered a starring member of the band at the time, he got plenty of column inches in the British press for having a bigger mouth than most of the band did. He also hit the headlines for being rather a naughty boy, and eventually got kicked out of the band for blackening their name with his sex, drugs, and much mocked attempts at Rock 'n Roll lifestyle.
Amusingly, he's the one that really made it. Big hope Gary Barlow released two albums, but has mostly been quiet. Since Robbie cleaned up, his star has only risen.
This compilation is a shorter one than the previous best of, however fans will be pleased to see three bonus offerings - "Once You've Tasted Love", a live version of "Pray" and a remix of their big hit with Lulu, "Relight My Fire". The big hits are all there too - "How Deep is Your Love", "Pray", "Could it Be Magic" and "Relight My Fire". Plus there's a previously unreleased track, "Today I've Lost You."
- Jean Barker
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