ROBBIE’S LATEST ESCAPADE?

A lot is riding on 'Escapology'...

ROBBIE WILLIAMS

could “save the UK music industry” this winter with forthcoming new album ‘ESCAPOLOGY’, according to industry watchdogs.

The industry has been in the doldrums this year with sales down 15% on 2001, something a host of big albums, led by Williams , are expected to put right.

The upturn will be slowly led by big-hitting greatest hits albums by [a][/a]

and Rolling Stones through October, before ‘Super Monday’ on November 11 when a host of stars including U2, Westlife

and Craig David will unleash their albums. All this will be merely be a warm-up for Robbie‘s

November 18 arrival though, chart expert Gennaro Castaldo from HMV said.

“‘Super Monday’ is traditionally huge,” he explained. “This year there are major releases fromU2, Westlife, Shania Twain and, provisionally, Craig David. But Robbie Williams

especially is something people seem to respond to.

“His new album is a real bonus. It was already looking like being a bumper run-up to Christmas, but now with Robbie

it looks like being the biggest ever.”

Robbie”s previous album ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ bolstered album sales in 2001. It has to date sold just under two million in the UK alone.

However, his place as industry saviour comes at an odd time. As NME goes to press, Williams

was still without a record deal – an unprecedented position for such a major player.

A bidding war is presently ongoing with Williams ‘ previous guardians at EMI duking it out with Warners, Sony and Universal for his signature. A fee of £40 million was the asking price some months ago.

Williams

management company IE Music still hold all the cards. According to Music Week, distribution, promotions and marketing have been sorted independently, suggesting they may not go with a major label at all.

NME.COM understands that the cover for ‘Escapology’ features Williams

pictured suspended in a glass tank in the style of conceptual artist Damien Hirst. The album itself includes tracks ‘Something Beautiful’, ‘Monsoon’, ‘Sexed Up’, the Blur pastiche ‘Song 3’ and a heavy The Beatles nod in ‘Me & My Monkey’. While some tracks sound a little likeQueen

, forthcoming single ‘Feel’ is said to be a classic Williams ballad.

There were also suggestions in the Australian press, that in a bid to be taken more seriously, Robbie

wished to be called Robert Williams from now on. Castaldo denies this, saying that with less than two months to go until release, HMV buyers were still expecting to stock ‘Escapology’ byRobbie Williams .

Meanwhile, Robbie

will debut ‘Feel’ at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Barcelona on November 14. His live performance at the Palau Sant Jordi will be a world exclusive.