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“In the twist of separation, you excelled at being free”

#31= Back For Good Take That

[719] Writer: Gary Barlow. Producers: Chris Porter & Gary Barlow
08 Apr 95 – 13 weeks on chart – #1 for 4 weeks from 08 Apr 95

Oh how I LOVED Take That. No, I mean REALLY loved them, especially cheeky Robbie (with Gary in second place) . I was onto them from the start, before they had any hits. The TV appearances in dodgy clubs on The Hitman & Her with the gay leather look. I took photos of each one of them individually as they had their hair done on the Vidal Sassoon stand at one of the first BBC Clothes Shows at the NEC. More pictures the same day as they performed on the Radio 1 stage with Jaki Brambles, wearing the latest fashion innovation; Global Hypercolour t-shirts. Oh how tempted I was to buy one just to look like Robbie. (He was always my favourite, while my friend Mark had a thing for Mark Owen, but I’ll let him tell you about that in the comments.) I must have every moment of their TV appearances recorded on video, from the Saturday morning appearances on Going Live! to the week they presented The Big Breakfast.

Before they hit the big time, Take That had worked the gay circuit like troopers, and it eventually paid off, setting a blueprint which many boybands were to follow later. This has now evolved into any pop act worth their salt making sure they play London’s G-A-Y club whenever they have a new single out.
It’s often forgotten now, but one of the group gave an interview in the early days to APN, northern England’s gay magazine, in which he made it pretty clear which side his bread was buttered, but oddly it never cropped up to haunt them later. (I still have it somewhere.)

They played our local haunt, the legendary (but small) Tin Tin’s club in Birmingham, twice before they hit the big time. They weren’t wearing very much, and what there was consisted mainly of black lycra and silver belt buckles. I took photos of one of these appearances, because I knew they were going to be big, and I’ve never done a thing with them. I really should be scanning them to accompany this…
What’s remarkable about those photos is not just how young they look, but how smooth Robbie is! He was the baby of the group, but either Nigel Martin-Smith was making them shave their chests or (as I suspect), he just hadn’t started sprouting yet. He’s certainly a long way from the hirsute popstar we know and love today. One of my clubbing friends swore blind to me that one of Take That had stayed in Birmingham with him that night, but I never had any proof. And it wasn’t the one who had almost come out in the interview either.

‘Back For Good’ was the sixth of Take That’s eight #1s, following their deodorant song, Sure, which had been at the top in October 1994. While I was taking tea with Crystaltipps on Saturday, this was playing in the background (because I’d put Take That’s Greatest Hits on her CD player, although she swears the album belongs to someone else). She pointed out that the lyric is completely inexcusable. “That’s just the typical thing that men say; ‘whatever I said, whatever I did, I didn’t mean it’; it’s when they can’t be bothered to think about what they’ve done wrong." Okay, she has a valid point, but I don’t think Gary Barlow wrote it for his fans to subject it to post-feminist analysis; that’s for us to do all these years later. At the time I just thought it was sweet.

Anyway there’s more to the song than that - it’s the song in which Gary declared his homosexual love for bandmate Mark Owen, revealing at the same time that Mr Owen wore make-up when round at Gary’s house for drinks; “Got your lipstick Mark still on your coffee cup” What? It wasn’t? Oh shit, all these years….

‘Back For Good’ was Take That’s only US hit. Thankfully, in the UK, it ensured that the Outhere Brothers and their dreadful ‘Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)’ was kicked off the #1 spot after only one week. It succumbed after four weeks to Some Might Say entering at the top, giving oasis their first #1. I’ve never quite forgiven them for that, but Robbie obviously did, as he boozed with them at Glasto, got fat and left the group, making this their last hit before he went solo.

Take That were just ten months and two more #1s away from the news conference that made the serious news programmes. The split that caused phone lines to be set up to help the grieving girlies, and the widespread predictions that Gary would go on to become the new Elton John, while the others would disappear into oblivion. Now then, who’s just secured an £80 million record deal? Step forward smooth boy…

Factette: In another of those strange coincidences that has affected this top 50 countdown, another version of 'Back For Good' was released in the UK only yesterday. It's on the '1 Love' album, where contemporary artists have covered past #1 singles. This one is by McAlmont & Butler, and Mike thinks it's pretty darn good - he's reviewed the whole album.

2nd factette: When you google for pictures of 'Take That', you inevitably get a picture of a boxing match.

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