Robbie Williams - Life Thru a Lens

NME.COM feature on Robbie Williams - Life Thru a Lens album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 28 August 2006

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Robbie Williams - Life Thru a Lens: Wikipedia Album Entry

Life thru a Lens was the first solo album by English pop singer Robbie Williams after his former band Take That split. After trying to find his own sound during a harrowing period for him, recordings for the album began at London's Maison Rouge studios in March of that year, shortly after his introduction to Guy Chambers.

The album was certified as 8x Platinum in the UK.

The album reached the number-one position on its 28th week inside the charts, the album remained forty weeks inside the British top ten albums and 218 weeks altogether, making the album the 58th best selling album in UK history with over 2.4 million sales. Despite the album's success in Williams' homeland, it failed to make a bigger impact in the international market, perhaps, the other territory where the album enjoyed similar success was Argentina, where the album reached the top ten in early 1998. It has sold over 4 million worldwide.

Writing for Melody Maker in October 1997, Robin Bresnark gave Life thru a Lens a very negative review; "There's nothing here... sure, Robbie Williams is as fascinating a hapless goon as we're ever likely to come across. But this album feels more like a press release than an album – and that's not what I call music."

Williams released what would be the first single taken from his debut album, "Old Before I Die", co-written by Williams, Eric Bazilian, and Desmond Child. The single was released in April 1997, hitting number-two of the UK Charts, but the song didn't make a real impact in other international charts. The second single, "Lazy Days", was released in the summer of 1997, amidst William's battle with addiction. He was allowed to check out from rehab to shoot the video for the song. The single charted at number-eight in the United Kingdom but, because promotion was nonexistent, struggled to reach the top forty of any other European chart.

Life thru a Lens was released in September 1997, not long after Williams's stint in rehab. The album launched with his first live solo gig at the Elysee Monmatre theatre in Paris, France.

At first, the album was slow to take off, debuting at number-eleven of the UK Album Charts, and the album passed to the bargain bin not long after its release, selling a little over 33,000 copies.

The third single of the album, "South of the Border", failed to make a significant impact on the UK Charts. When it was released in September 1997 it reached number-fourteen, and many considered this the end of Robbie Williams.

After Williams met the record company's concerns about his future, he released what would be the fourth single taken from his album, not knowing it would become his biggest single in the United Kingdom and so far, one of his best well known songs, "Angels",supposedly written by Williams and Chambers in just thirty minutes, it later emerged that Williams bought the song off Dublin songwriter Ray Heffernan for #7,500 on condition of a writing credit on the album, the credit was not given but a cryptic obscure message of thanks does appear on the sleeve, the single was released in December 1997, the song became Williams' best seller in the United Kingdom being certified 2x Platinum by the BPI. The song became a hit around Europe and Latin America and sold almost 2 million copies worldwide, rocketing sales of his album.

The fifth and last single taken from the album, "Let Me Entertain You", when it was released in March 1998 reached number-three in the UK Charts, becoming one of Williams' signature songs and being the opener of most Williams' tours throughout his career.

The title track "Life thru a Lens" was written about Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, "Ego A Go Go" is about Gary Barlow, "South of the Border" about Kate Moss and "Baby Girl Window" was inspired by Samantha Beckinsale and her late father actor Richard Beckinsale

Both "One of God's Better People" and "Angels" were inspired by Williams mother Jan.

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