Part 242: The Ego Has Landed

RECORD STORE TALES Part 242: The Ego Has Landed

In the spring and summer of 1999, Robbie Williams suddenly got big in Canada.  Previously he was all but an unknown.  That is until they compiled the best songs from his first two solo albums (Life Thru A Lense and I’ve Been Expecting You) onto one CD and called it The Ego Has Landed.  This compilation went platinum in Canada, but before that I had never heard of Robbie Williams.

One of my staff guys Matty K started spinning The Ego Has Landed in-store.  It actually grew on me quite quickly.   I bought it and still own it today.  I don’t play it often, but I have three major memories of this album that still stick with me:

1.       Once I got into it, Matt and I would play this album almost every shift together.  He’d pull his sweater up over his nose and imitate the cover.  Then in horrible accent he’d recite the hidden poem at the end of the CD, “Hello Sir”.  Good times!

2.       When we first carried it, I wanted to find out who Robbie Williams was.  I knew nothing about him, except that people were asking for the CD.  I then discovered via the magical internets that he was ex-Take That.  I knew who they were, at least.  Also, Alex Dickson from Bruce Dickinson’s band was playing with him.  I had no idea!   I remember trying to tell one of my bosses these cool details, only to have them snap at me!

“Hey, did you know who this Robbie Williams is?” I asked.

“I don’t care!” they barked.  “You’re carrying it, whether you like it or not!”

“I was just going to tell you that he used to be with Take That,” I responded sheepishly.   Somebody needed to chill the fuck out.  Bad times!

3.       I’d been waiting patiently for a used copy to come in, so I could get it cheaper.  I had a big cottage weekend coming up, and my friend Shannon was coming with me.  I didn’t want to subject her to thrash metal in the car trip, and I really wanted Robbie for the journey.  The weekend was fast approaching, so I decided to spend the money on a brand new copy.  We had a great trip and a great weekend, but the following week, guess what came in used and much cheaper?  The Ego Has Landed!  Fuck me.

I was given a free copy of the followup album, Sing When You’re Winning, by Warren from Global Bass magazine.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like it nearly as much as The Ego Has Landed.  In fact I’ve never bought a Robbie album since!

14 comments

  1. As far as pop ballads go, I still quite enjoy his song Angels.
    He definitely did not lack confidence making the jump to solo artist, some strong singles (Rock DJ, Let Me Entertain You), and Life through a lens is on the 1001. I’ve never heard any of his album tracks, you’ve inspired me to explore it sooner rather than later!

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    1. Hey glad to see another appreciator here! To be honest I wasn’t sure how this one would be received so I knocked it back in the running order a bit.

      I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about Life Thru a Lens.

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      1. 11 months later, finally got to around to LTAL – just checked the running order to Ego, I agree with your assessment, they picked the strongest half from his debut!
        I believe the Hives did a similar move of releasing a couple albums before compiling them into one that eventually hit it big in North America

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  2. I know OF him, can’t claim to know a song by title. Stephen1001 mentioned a song, I can’t place it. Probably to hear it? I could go to the youtubes and find out, but… Anyway, my only memory of hearing this name was at an office where I was working in Montreal, and we had a group of people in from Ireland to ghost us for the day, see how we did things. The guy who was with me, who was in a wheelchair, could only talk about how they were going to see this Williams character in concert that night, and there was going to be special wheelchair seating and he’d have a great view of the show! I was really happy for him, for his excitement. I’m sure he had a blast.

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  3. I’m not sure I could name a Robbie Williams song off the top of my head, but I know I’d recognize them if I heard them. What I can clearly remember however are two of his videos, one in which he disrobes and de-fleshes himself in front of “adoring” fans — which I always took as indicating impressive self awareness for such a massive pop star/former boy band type — and an intimate pairing with Nicole Kidman that I recall as one of the sexiest videos of all time.

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    1. The “flesh” video was Rock DJ I believe from Sing When You’re Winning. The Kidman one was from Swing When You’re Winning. It was sexy alright, but musically that’s when I lost interest for good.

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  4. Got one: Millenium! It happens to be on our wedding CD we made for our bridal party, partly because of the year we got married, and because we were having a love affair with James Bond movies around that time too.

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    1. Was that in a James Bond movie? I have to be honest I was zoned out of Bond during the Brosnan years! (With the exception of Goldeneye for the N64. Not the Wii! The Wii version sucks.)

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