Take That’s “reimagined” Greatest Hits album, Odyssey (Polydor), is released today (November 23) and is likely to become one of the year’s biggest-selling albums.
The album charts the group’s hits across three decades, from their early boyband days to their current, grown-up incarnation. Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen appear on the cover of the current issue of Music Week, looking back over their incredible career, but they’re not the only ones reminiscing.
Because if there’s one executive who been alongside the band every step of the way, it’s Universal Music UK & Ireland chairman & CEO, David Joseph. Joseph worked with the band in their first phase, when he was head of artist development at RCA, and was instrumental in the band’s hugely successful 2005 comeback as co-president of Polydor with Colin Barlow, under then Universal UK boss Lucian Grainge.
So Joseph sat down with Music Week to talk almost 30 years of hits and splits…
Why have Take That proved to be such an enduring success?
“I think there are three main factors: the songs, the chemistry between them, and the extraordinary live shows. Then add the band as relatable people and their story with many twists and turns, ups and downs, fallouts and reunions - but ultimately one of togetherness. And the way they’ve kept their fans so close as part of the journey. But it’s nothing without the music. The songs drive the story.”
What's your favourite memory of working with them over the years?
“For a band to have something, to have it taken away, to get it back bigger than ever. For all the right reasons.”
Not many people would have necessarily expected the original four-man Take That reunion to be a huge success – what made you want to back it?
“We’re here to back artists we believe in. Myself, Colin and Lucian backed them. Polydor believed in them. The only thing that may sound strange in hindsight was that we didn’t hear any music before the deal. The story was enough. We trusted them. It was instinctive and they delivered.”
The new compilation is an ambitious reinvention of the greatest hits – why was that an important thing to do?
“It just felt right creatively. A new take on songs that could have a new meaning today. It was an idea that they then creatively enjoyed and that’s why it worked. The creative led the process but we were also mindful that they’d been on a run of very successful studio albums and it just felt like the right moment to have a respectful look at the past. It’s a terrific record.”
After 30 years together, where can the band go next?
“Their music is going to be part of people’s lives forever. Take That occupy a special place in UK music history. So where can they go? As long as the songs keep coming, there are many chapters left in this story.”
* To read the full story of Take That’s incredible career, see this week’s print edition of Music Week or click here and here. To get your hands on the special issue, please email Rachael Hampton on firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.