Robbie Williams's Somebody Someday
takes fans behind the scenes of his 2001 tour, laying bare both the mechanics of the pop machine and a man who can undoubtedly claim to be one of the biggest stars in the business. Williams rose from the ashes of teeny boy band Take That, confounding critics who had housewives' favourite Gary Barlow down as the only member with a musical future. Robbie had a shaky start to his solo outing but the massive hit "Angels" sealed his position as Britain's Clown Prince of Pop. His 2001 Tour was the pinnacle of his career so far and writer Mark McCrum had unprecedented access. The result is not simply a diary of the energy and vibrancy of live performance and the backstage madness that helps keep the show going, but of a rather vulnerable and sensitive pop star who loves what he does. Robbie talks candidly about himself, revealing a far more mature individual than the egotistical womaniser image perpetrated by the tabloids. The photographs by Scarlet Page are wonderfully unintrusive but at the same time capture many sides of Robbie that are rarely caught on film. Yes, there is Robbie pulling his pants down (again) and weeing against a fence, but we also see Robbie relaxing in his hotel room, strumming away on his guitar and kicking a football about by himself in a stadium corridor. It's a far cry from the bright lights and over-the-top personality he lets emerge on stage. Robbie fans would buy this whatever the quality, but it's a genuinely well-written and enjoyable journey through a few whirlwind months of a true star. In one of his earlier hits Robbie sang "Let me Entertain You"--from the talent and star quality than shines through here, he shouldn't even need to ask. --Jonathan Weir
In a much-publicised recent poll, Robbie Williams was acclaimed as the singer of the century (against such puny competition as Frank Sinatra), and (on the strength of a few songs) even beat Gershwin and Cole Porter as the old millennium's greatest popular composer. Which shows that there is an audience out there for this remarkable personality. Co-written with Mark McCrum, this is an autobiography that conveys the strange mixture of self-mockery and self-aggrandisement that make up the singer's complex personality. There is clearly more to him than the clown who drops his trousers to moon at photographers, and the energy of the book's text (written on his 2001 European and UK tour) vividly conveys what it's like to be at the centre of the media storm that follows him about. In the countdown to Christmas, here's a sure-fire winner if ever there was one.