[2] Take That, ‘Back For Good’

Well I never. There are two types of people: those who understand that this is a pop classic and those who reckon that Robbie Williams’ wrongheaded, legacy-pissing, smug “punk” cover is somehow better. That kind of thing narks me right off. They’re the same earnest Mojo readers who dislike ‘.. Baby One More Time’ and ‘Independent Women’ but fawn over Travis’ and Elbow’s respective versions. Bands who do this believe that they’re legitimising the song by stripping the pop nous and adding dreary rock chords. They’re not. It’s an in-joke that reveals their fear of what the boys might think.

You can possibly tell which side of the fence I occupy. I never had a problem with Take That, a blessed relief after New Kids On The Block. The songs were ordinary, inoffensive, with the odd one or two rising above the parapet. Then I saw them perform this on the Brits and was bowled over by the hooks and its near perfect form. The middle eight is weak, but nothing else is, and it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Hindsight shows it was a one-off for Gary Barlow, the awkward, rotund George Michael that never was.

Junior and I didn’t have time to discuss the record. She sat in the ring and chewed her foam pig while I puzzled over why the mixer was making everything sound fuzzy. I should dust more often. A flawed performance then, an ill-fitting tribute to this soppy dazzler.

Laura Nyro, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’/Kelis, ‘Milkshake’

I thought we could compare ’60s girl and ’00s girl, and I could have palpitations about how Junior was going to turn out. If you know Nyro’s song, it’s likely to be from a cover version. The Fifth Dimension, or something. A somewhat desperate lyric now I think about it, but the yearning for the wedding day is nicely old-fashioned. Kelis, of course, is dispensing with formalities.

‘Wedding Bell Blues’ swings by at skipping pace, and Junior can’t help but sing along. This involves a brief hum every couple of bars but it’s more than, say, Shaun Ryder can manage. For ‘Milkshake’, we’re occupied with dad’s patented Leg Seesaw. This is more of a challenge for the old man now that missy has passed six months and weighs in at over 17 and a half pounds. One should never disclose a lady’s statistics, naturally, but we’re proud of the little baby rice guzzler.

Kelis has never again hit the peaks of her first album, but this song is nagging enough to be impossible to ignore. I hadn’t heard any Laura Nyro records at all until a couple of years back. Always assumed that she was a bit Uncut/Mojo po-faced and dull. Taking the plunge, I found her records brimming with blue-eyed pop soul. Go get some.

Did Bill ever marry the girl in the song? It all sounds dashed uncertain, and I’m not sure he’s a chap you can hang your hat on. Come the 20s, I’m going to be the scourge of Bills everywhere.