There has been plenty of speculation about U.K. pop artist Robbie Williams reuniting with Take That in the last few years. It has not happened yet, but Williams has dueted with main songwriter and former bandmate Gary Barlow on a new single. It is their first collaboration since Williams left Take That 15 years ago.
Williams' single "Shame" (Virgin), a co-write and duet with Barlow, is released Oct. 4 and will feature on the 39-track greatest hits set, "In And Out Of Consciousness - The Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010," released a week later. It marks 20 years in the business for Williams, who left Take That in 1995 after apparently falling out with group members. He was later more critical of Take That's management and, although there was some media sniping over the years, Williams and the rest of Take That now appear to be on good terms.
"It's incredible to listen to the album and realize that it's already been 20 years of making music and playing gigs," said Williams in a statement. "And the great thing about the album is that it's not only a celebration of my past but also a bridge to the future. The fact that part of the future includes a name from my past makes it all the more poignant for me."
Take That split in 1996 and then reformed with the 1995-96 four-piece line-up 10 years later, with huge U.K. sales for their Polydor/Universal albums "Beautiful World" (2006) and "The Circus" (2008).
Williams has never rejoined the group. But with both acts' careers pretty much at parity - Williams has sold 1 million copies of current album "Reality Killed the Video Star" according to a statement - some sort of reunion seems possible at some stage.
Williams' career had wobbled before the current album - the more experimental "Rudebox" album was branded a flop - and regrouping with his old bandmates in 2007 or 2008 might have looked like panic. Now that neither side needs the other as a career boost, an on-stage or TV reunion seems that much more likely.
The Williams hits set looks set to be one of the major Q4 releases. If Take That can get a new album out in time for the Christmas sales period - "The Circus" benefited hugely from gifting sales in December 2008 - then both acts could drive sales with a high-profile reunion.