Robbie's fifth studio album, Escapology, was released shortly after the announcement of his reported £80 million contract with EMI - the biggest music deal in British History. The album's famous artwork picture an upside down Robbie hanging precariously over a sun drenched LA.
After a year out from recording, the album heralded a new era for Robbie; he had taken a more active role in the making of Escapology, giving an indication of his growing confidence in the studio, and Nan's Song and Come Undone were the first songs to be written without the input of Guy Chambers.
"I've never enjoyed the process of recording," he said, "I've always found it very boring. But the Swing album changed all that because it was just amazing. And I thought it's just a shame that recording my own material can't be this much fun...then blow me, if this hasn't been as much fun as the Swing album. It's been amazing."
Produced by the dynamic forces of Guy Chambers and Steve Power, the album delivered something altogether different from previous offerings. Robbie wanted the sound to be raw, raunchy and honest, without over production.
Steve Power said: "He did dictate the whole tenor of the record really. He didn't want things to be made slick. You have to have some courage to do that and if anyone has to have the courage it's the artist. And we follow him."
The album was recorded mainly in Los Angeles, with many of the vocals sung naked...one song, which didn't make the album, was even sung in a Superman costume! The Escapology band featured Guy Chambers, Neil Taylor and Gary Nuttall on guitars, Phil Spalding on bass and Jeremy Stacey on drums.
In Robbie's words: "We had a good set of lads in and we rocked hard, man! I enjoyed it, it was a good vibe."
"Robbie has proven his detractors (and I have been among them) wrong the best way: by making pop that is fascinating, refreshing and suggests, despite his own apparent doubts, that he is worth every penny EMI have paid for him."
The Daily Telegraph, November ‘02
"Our favourite has to be the toe-tapping Something Beautiful. With its punchy beat and catchy melody, you'll pick up the tune on the first listen and it's guaranteed to have the Mr Williams wannabes reaching for the karaoke mic. He might have been away for a while, but there's no danger of his king of pop crown slipping. Welcome back, Rob."
Company, December ‘02
"...given a few listens Escapology reveals all the dark emotion, showmanship and tongue-in-cheek arrogance that gives Robbie his charm... Cynics may scorn at Robbie; he's got it all and he isn't afraid to acknowledge it. The thing to remember though is that we should forgive him, because he's Robbie and he's great."
BBC News, November ‘02
"Like Eminem, Williams is desperate to give his own spin on tabloid coverage and determined to prove himself as human as the rest of us, but incapable of letting us forget he's a star. Except Eminem is the voice of a generation while Robbie Williams is just the voice of Robbie Williams..."
NME, November ‘02
Me and My Monkey