Mar 13

TAKE THAT – “Sure”

Popular73 comments • 4,708 views

#711, 15th October 1994

Take-That-Sure-36711 A third album in as many years – for all that they were an honest phenomenon now, for all the still-spiralling popularity, Take That kept their workrate brutally high. Invisiblity is death in pop, and in the pre-net era visibility meant product. Commercially, said product would be as close to a cert as one could want, so even amidst the Stakhanovite grinning and flexing there might be room for experiment. Namely, a seven-minute video to show off the boys’ comedic talents (which proved feeble) and a chance for Gary to do an R&B number.

Alas! R&B and Barlow were uneasy bedfellows. For a few seconds “Sure” keeps its footing, sounds excitingly on-trend even – a confident whomp of a beat with producers Brothers In Rhythm doing a decent Teddy Riley impression. But then comes Gary, whose voice is all wrong for this – too bluff and needy, hectoring where it should plead, plodding where it should cajole. The backing vocalists (“Sure! So Sure!”) carry all the hook – Gary roams aimlessly in between, a street dancer in wellington boots, issuing his list of tedious requirements to a returning honey. “It’s gotta be social, compatible, sexual, irresistible” – is there a less sexual word than “social”, a more resistible one than “compatible”?

Perhaps they felt the need to act grown up – something their next singles would try more convincingly. By this time Take That no longer had the field to themselves – their rivalry, or rather brand differentiation, with East 17 added a necessary twist to the story. But maybe it irked that East 17 were the bad boys, the streetwise boys, the dirty ones. (Their “Deep” is preposterous, but still sexier than this.) Maybe Take That wanted to show they could still play that game, too. But they couldn’t. They made duller singles, but not worse ones.



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  1. 31
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Sex Pistols were a boy band [/whiskered old challops]

    Mark Owen’s appearance (and win) on an early Celebrity Big Brother also key here, I think. He came across as chilled and likeable.

  2. 32
    punctum on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Howard Donald’s distinct personality…um, he was the one who…or was that Jason, or…um…

  3. 33
    Izzy on 26 Mar 2013 #

    I think there was always an overtone of them being more-than-a-teen-phenomenon. The way I recall it, Lulu got them cachet with an older demographic, Pray was the start of Barlow-as-serious-artist, a theme which I revile; and Robbie turning into a different kind of teenager gave the others an unearned aura of maturity.

    I also recall their having Mercury nominations and Ivor Novello awards pressed onto them, which I can’t really begrudge – such things are just puff anyway. I do recall Tony Parsons sneering at their nomination during some feature, specifically Jason saying that people had told him that being around them was like being around the Beatles – I mean it’s obvious why that’s silly, but it’s also obvious why it’s not, so the sneer left me with goodwill towards them, and ill-will towards Parsons.

    Anyway, Sure’s better than I’d feared from reading the comments – at least the backing track is. As for Gary’s vocal, ‘dancer in wellington boots’ is about right. Like sewing wearing boxing gloves, or settling down into a concrete pillow. Alan Partridge singing it wouldn’t be massively dissimilar.

  4. 34
    Alex on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Just to say I had to read the entire post and think hard before I could remember the song.

  5. 35
    Tom on 26 Mar 2013 #

    From memory (with big not-paying-attention caveats!):

    Robbie – cheeky
    Mark – sweet
    Jason – slacker (the presence of this as a boyband archetype dates the band delightfully!)
    Gary – leader/artistic (it’s very hard indeed to scrape away now-Barlow to get at then-Barlow, he seems always to have been himself)
    Howard – kind of generic normal himbo type?? Marcello’s right, he’s tough to place if you were outside the fandom

  6. 36
    wichita lineman on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Re 31: Not to mention Mark’s “likeable” solo stabs at anaemic indie, much beloved by Pete Paphides.

    Re 32/35: Howard Donald – or ‘Oward – was beefy, hairy and seemingly dim. It was a distinct personality, distinct from the other Thats, at least.

    Put it this way, they could have had Spice Girls/Seven Dwarves-type nicknames.

    Re 33: Mercury nomination?! I’d completely forgotten that. It was 1994, so I suppose M People’s unlikely win overshadowed it.

    Then again, I’ve forgotten a lot about 1994. I watched a few Chart Show Indie Top Tens last night, sort of for research purposes, and was alarmed by how much I had forgotten (all that pointy finger stuff from Senser and Fun-da-Mental) or had no memory of: 8 Storey Window? Seaweed? Compulsion??

  7. 37
    Izzy on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Was it Seaweed doing Go Your Own Way? I can piece together my Fleetwood Mac adoration through half-remembered baby steps throughout the nineties, and that’s one of them.

  8. 38
    James BC on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Jason was The Dancer.

    Howard is harder to pin down but I’ve heard it said he was placed in the band specifically to appeal to older women. Not sure if that means twentysomethings or mums or what.

  9. 39
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Robbie – Josh That
    Mark – Gosh That
    Gary – Tosh That
    Jason – Bosh That
    Howard – Quosh™ That

  10. 40
    swanstep on 26 Mar 2013 #

    @Izzy. Hole covered Gold Dust Woman in 1995 (another possible baby step?). Courtney was one of the dominant presences of 1994 in the US (she got one of the Barbara Walters ‘Most Fascinating People of the Year’ interview slots for 1994 so she’d blown up well beyond indie rock pseudo-fame); too bad we’re not going to meet her either here or at TPL.

  11. 41
    Cumbrian on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Howard was harder to pin down until a bunny came along and lifted him out of obscurity. More on that later I guess.

  12. 42
    Mark G on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #32 I read that as “Howard Devoto”, but don’t worry I’m going for the eye-test on Thursday…

  13. 43
    Patrick Mexico on 26 Mar 2013 #

    No. 3 watch for 15 October 1994.. don’t worry, I’m not turking any No. 2 watch’s jaaaahb [sic].. Bon Jovi, “Always.”

    Astonishing they’ve never had a UK number 1 – not even stable of ropey ’80s bars Livin’ On A Prayer! – considering, like TT, their (eventual) ubiquity with ladies of a certain age and years of survival despite almost never being a critics’ choice. But, also like TT, every now and then people come along and say, “Yeah, I always actually liked that kinda music, honest..”

  14. 44
    weej on 26 Mar 2013 #

    For “Millenials” Bon Jovi = classic rock.
    I’m hoping a few come along and disabuse me of this notion, but it’s been my unhappy experience so far.

  15. 45
    Steve Mannion on 26 Mar 2013 #

    There may not be a record I despised in 1994 more than ‘Always’ but half of this is due to the video and the two long-haired chumps vying for the girl’s affections. Give me Alicia Silverstone and Aerosmith then and for a bit.

  16. 46
    punctum on 26 Mar 2013 #

    don’t worry, I’m not turking any No. 2 watch’s jaaaahb

    Could you repeat that in English, please.

    Bon Jovi had a lot of number one albums, including 1994’s biggest seller.

  17. 47
    Patrick Mexico on 26 Mar 2013 #

    It’s “I’m not taking anyone’s job” in the South Park Colorado hick dialect.

    I’d link to an amusing clip, but it would sound too much like a terrifying bunny coming up very, very soon which makes Sure look like Love Will Tear Us Apart

  18. 48
    Steve Mannion on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #43 I predict only songs from 1994 will top the charts from now on, starting this Sunday, so perhaps T’ Jove will yet get their due.

  19. 49
    Patrick Mexico on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #48 HA! Well, this should mean good news for Corona – Rhythm of the Night.

    If it can cure Tom’s flu, it can cure anything.

  20. 50
    Alan Connor on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Re #28: Ah, but is it “sleeping with the sleepers”? I hear it as “sleep in with the sleepers”…

  21. 51
    anto on 26 Mar 2013 #

    re33: It was around this time (1993/94) that Tony Parsons appeared to be trying to outdo his former wife in terms of being a contrarian pain-in-the-bum. Certainly he was a constant presence on C4s Without Walls programme explaining why he thought the working classes ought to pull their socks up/women ought to get back to the kitchen etc, and of course why pop music was all downhill after The Beatles/Winifred Atwell/Bobby Crush or whoever.
    It was a blessed relief when he started writing novels and was seen on tv a bit less.

  22. 52
    tm on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #44 – ‘For “Millenials” Bon Jovi = classic rock’ – just asked a boy if he’d stand in with a school band doing Wonderwall and Boulevard of Broken Dreams. He replied “I’m not really into old music”. Made me feel like a proper dino it did.

  23. 53
    Cumbrian on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Is classic rock a distinct genre or is it just rock music that was popular x years prior to now (with x being a floating value but likely to be greater than 20)? If the latter, Bon Jovi are surely classic rock – it’s been something like 27 years since Livin’ On A Prayer was released.

  24. 54
    weej on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #53 – I have a feeling it was the former at some point, though it was inevitable that it would become the latter. I just meant that this “classic” label gives it an air of respectability / quality it doesn’t deserve – you might extend this to all “classic rock” though I probably wouldn’t go that far.

    I remember Tony Parsons interviewing Roy Chubby Brown around this time and trying to get him to say it was an ironic persona he adopted on stage – Royston was having none of it of course, but Tony kept trying to persuade himself that it was an act. You’d think he’d have checked before inviting him on.

  25. 55
    Tom on 26 Mar 2013 #

    #52 speaking of “the kids” I have started asking my 6 year old his opinion on new entries, beginning with the next one.

    I also showed him Slade, saying “this was No.1 forty years ago when Daddy was born”. He was, I’m afraid, not very impressed.

  26. 56
    Sarah on 26 Mar 2013 #

    Was it the six-year-old who contributed to the Adams-a-thon? His input was invaluable.

    I wasn’t into the That or E17, though I’m the age to have been. I remember two seconds of this song perfectly (the “sure, so sure” bit) and exactly nothing else. That’s some hook-to-song ratio.

  27. 57
    lonepilgrim on 26 Mar 2013 #

    various mentions of the Spoiler Bunny in this thread: I have found his picture

  28. 58
    Mark G on 27 Mar 2013 #

    So, it’s not “Sexually resistable”, right?

  29. 59
    Dan Quigley on 27 Mar 2013 #

    The backing track sounds like a mash-up of En Vogue’s ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Lies’ – no bad thing in my books. But those vocals (both Gary’s and they boys’) are almost parodically lacking in suppleness, not helped by their over-prominence in the mix.

    Going by TT’s number ones so far there’s a sloppiness about Barlow’s songwriting that goes beyond the lyrics – I adore unexpected chord changes, but what’s going on behind the ‘I need positive reactions’ in the pre-chorus sounds random and inconsequential rather than sophisticated or daring.

    Prior to a still-bunnyable hit, Take That’s presence in Australia was far eclipsed by that of East 17, whose ‘It’s Alright’ was a number one and almost as unanimously loved among my fellow year-sixers as Dennis Leary’s ‘Asshole’.

  30. 60
    wichita lineman on 27 Mar 2013 #

    Is 58 referring to 57??

    Re 59: E17 huge in Australia? I never knew that. Was it just It’s Alright or a string of hits?

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