Robbie followed the hugely successful Swing When You're Winning project with this Top 5 smash 'Feel'... It was his first release under his new multi-million pound deal with EMI - the 2nd single 'Come Undone' is due out in mid-April 2003.That deal was reported at the time to be worth as much as £80 million, although even if true that would be a total investment, rather than an amount in his back pocket. Still, it's a massive amount to sink into a pop star, even at 2002 levels of album sales and is testament to how unstoppable the Robbie phenomenon seemed at the time. Also, he'd been in a position to record an entire album at his own expense and shop it around to different labels so they knew they could get it into the shops for Christmas; in the even it probably suited both parties for him to return to his existing home at EMI, since they could use rights to his catalogue as a bargaining chip.
With hindsight though, it was pretty much the high point of his career. His productive songwriting partnership with Guy Chambers had run into trouble and as a result Escapology had to be padded with some songs composed in previous years. 'Feel' was apparently a warmed-over demo from 1999, with Williams retaining large parts of the demo vocal. This might be why his performance comes over as more natural and less sneery than he often seems even on his other self-pitying songs. In fact I have to admit this is actually a decent song as well, with an understated quality pretty much unique in his catalogue. It took me a couple of years to realise though. I didn't even start to until we went on holiday to Berlin and during a ride on the S-Bahn a young man got on with a guitar, performed this song in its entirety and got off at the next stop. Somehow because this was so unexpected the memory has stuck with me and opened my ears to this a little.
Also appearing on: Now 34, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51 (with Nicole Kidman), 52 (with 1 Giant Leap & Maxi Jazz), 55, 56, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 74, 75, 77 [with Gary Barlow], 83
Available on: Escapology [Explicit]